The Florentine painter Giotto was credited with "liberating" Italian art from the style of painting influenced by Byzantine icons.
This artificial, flat style characterizes earlier Italian works, such as the Berlinghieri-circle Madonna and Child on the opposite wall.
By endowing his figures with realistic mass and expressive gestures and features, Giotto helped to establish the more natural style that ushered in the Italian Renaissance.
The inclusion of St John the Evangelist, St. John the Baptist, and St. Francis of Assisi has led to the hypothesis that the altarpiece was painted for the Peruzzi family chapel, which was dedicated to SS John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, in the Franciscan church of Santa Croce in Florence.
Sometime around 1310-15, Giotto and his pupils painted two series of frescoes in the Peruzzi chapel depicting scenes from the lives of the two saints.
In the middle of the fifteenth century, the sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti recorded four paintings and four chapels painted by Giotto in this church, but it cannot be determined whether the Museum's altarpiece was one of the paintings to which he referred.