Probably intended for a small chapel, this triptych shows the Virgin Mary in the center flanked by Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Paul. On the left panel Saint Thomas Aquinas wears the Dominican habit and holds a book of his writings. On the right panel, Saint Paul turns toward the Virgin and holds his symbol of martyrdom, the sword. In the center, the Virgin Mary wears a deep rich blue cloak made from ultramarine or lapis lazuli, a very precious and expensive pigment. A pattern of intricate marks called tooling, punched into the gold, defines the halo around her head. The background of the panels is covered with a thin layer of gold leaf, but the impression is of solid gold, meant to honor the holy figures depicted.
As if she is extending into our space, the Virgin Mary reaches over the marble parapet with her right hand. This gesture symbolizes the holy Mother's power and mercy, and her unique position to serve for man as a compassionate link to God.
During the 1500s, a reclining Christ Child was added in oil at the bottom, in front of the parapet. The child differed in style from the rest of the tempera painting. After the Museum acquired Bernardo Daddi's painting, conservators realized that the child was a later addition.