PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION
Private Collection, Germany;
Private Collection, Paris;
With Raffaello Amati, London;
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2000.
Taddeo Gaddi was Giotto's favourite pupil and took on the mantle as Florence's leading painter upon his master's death in 1337. According to Cennino Cennini he worked as Giotto's assistant for twenty-four years, including on the Baroncelli Polyptych in Santa Croce in Florence. His work and that of his sons, especially Agnolo Gaddi, ensured that the Giottesque tradition and approach to painting were dominant in Florence until the latter's death in 1396.
Despite his close association with Giotto, Taddeo is known to have worked independently on several important projects, most notably the fresco cycle of the Life of the Virgin in the Baroncelli chapel in Santa Croce which dates from 1328 and for which he is arguably best known today. Though still heavily dependent on Giotto's idiom, he introduced a new approach to narrative development, foeshortening and a more sculptural approach to composition.
Taddeo also worked on small-scale panels for private devotion such as the present work, which can be compared to other works given to the artist, including a portable triptych formerly with Moretti, Florence, in which the figures of Saints John the Baptist and Zenobius are in almost identical poses.1 The work should also be compared to the ex-Gould Madonna and Child enthroned with Saints.2 That painting is datable to the 1330s and a similar date of execution for the present work should be assumed.3 The panels share several features, among them the delicate marble-coloured decoration of the throne, the carefully placed attendant saints, the intimate expressiveness in the features of the faces and the modelling of the bodies, as well as the embroidered edges of the cloaks of the Madonna and, in the present panel, of Zenobius. Perhaps the most notable similarity is the inclusion of the two kneeling donors - discrete in size but hard to miss due to their prominent position in the design - who would most likely have been wealthy merchants. The panel would have been commissioned directly by the donors but the lack of coat-of arms means that any proposed identification cannot be but speculation. The as-yet unidentified object that lies between them could provide a clue to their family business.
The bishop shown lower right is likely to be Saint Zenobius who along with Saint John the Baptist is the patron saint of Florence. The presence of both patron saints strongly suggests that the patron was also Florentine.
The attribution has been endorsed by Professor Miklós Boskovits on the basis of a photograph (written communication with the present owner).
1. See A. Tartuferi in Da Ambrogio Lorenzetti a Sandro Botticelli, Moretti Gallery, exh. cat., Florence 2003, pp. 30-37, reproduced in colour p. 31.
2. Sold New York, Christie's, 6 April 2006, lot 29.
3. See A. Ladis, Taddeo Gaddi, Critical Reappraisal and Catalogue Raisonné, Columbia and London 1982, p. 208, cat. no. 39, reproduced.
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