PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION
With Durlacher Brothers, London;
With Bacri Frères (no. 1027), Paris, by the 1930s;
From whom acquired by Sepp Angerer for the collection of Hermann Goering, Carinhall, July 1940;
At the Munich Central Collecting Point (card no. 6365);
Restituted to the owners, 25 March 1947;
Thence by descent in the family to the present owners.
This panel must have at one time formed the central element of a portable triptych, small enough to have been easily moved by its patron for private devotion. The choice of the saints depicted suggests that it was painted for a member of the order of the Poor Clares; the founder Saint Clare is depicted on the bottom register at right, while at the left another Franciscan nun saint is depicted and is identified as "Elizabeth", almost certainly meant to be Elizabeth of Hungary, who though never a full member of the order, became a tertiary. On the reverse, two donor figures, a Franciscan monk and nun, are shown adoring a depiction of the Imago Pietatis.
Although Federico Zeri considered it by an anonymous Riminese artist, subsequent scholars have suggested different origins for the present panel. From images, Keith Christiansen has suggested that it might be by the so-called "Maestro Espressionista di Santa Chiara", a painter who appears to have been a collaborator of Giotto at Assisi, working in the early years of the 14th Century, or by an artist closely associated with him. Certainly, this would place the picture in a very "Franciscan" ambient, thus neatly dovetailing with the panel's iconography. Filippo Todini also considers it to be Umbrian, and notes its affinities with the work of Marino da Perugia, in particular the figures of the saints which are stylistically similar to the figure of an angel in an anconetta in the Museo Civico di Gubbio by Marino. Andrea de Marchi, on the other hand, has suggested that the picture might be Lombard, and based on photographs has suggested the name of the "Primo Maestro di Chiaravalle". This anonymous painter worked circa 1320-30, centered around Milan and Bergamo. His entire known output is fresco painting (for example, the Convent of Matris Domini, Bergamo and naturally his eponymous works in the Abbey of Chiaravalle, Milan), and the discovery of a panel painting would be an interesting addition to his corpus. Whatever further study may suggest, it is clear that this painting was created by one of the first generation of artists conversant with Giotto's style and innovations, working in the first few decades of the trecento.
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