PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION
R. Longhi, 'Tracciato Orvietano', in Paragone, May 1962, no. 149, pp. 9–11, reproduced fig. 7, and in colour plate I and II;
F. Todini, La Pittura Umbra dal Duecento al primo Cinquecento, Milan 1989, vol. I, p. 281, reproduced vol. II, p. 214, reproduced fig. 452 (in reverse).
As with the Spello panels, the present work has a decorated gable featuring a small depiction of The Crucifixion contained within a roundel supported by three angels; Cola acknowledges the predestined scene of Christ’s suffering in his representation of a small bird flying away from the Christ Child, yet tethered to his finger by a fine thread. Since pagan antiquity the motif of the bird has signified the soul of a man that flies away at his death – a meaning that is retained in Christian iconography. The little–known Saint Mustiola was first identified in this painting by Roberto Longhi in 1962.6 Saint Mustiola was the patron saint of Chiusi, an Umbrian town only fifty kilometres from Orvieto and Perugia. Her cult is strongly linked with the cult of the Santo Anello (the holy quartz ring that Saint Joesph is said to have given the Virgin Mary upon their marriage) which had been kept at different locations in Chiusi, at one time alongside the remains of the Saint. Longhi speculates that the inclusion of Saint Mustiola in the present work might indicate that it was commissioned by a patron from Chiusi.
1. R. van Marle, The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting, New York 1970, vol. V, p. 101, reproduced fig. 60.
2. Van Marle 1970, p. 100.
3. B. Berenson, ‘A Sienese little master in New York and elsewhere’, in Essays in the study of Sienese painting, New York 1918, pp. 43–51.
4. See F. Todini, La Pittura Umbra dal Duecento al primo Cinquecento, Milan 1989, vol. II, p. 212, reproduced fig. 446.
5. Berenson 1918, p. 45.
6. Longhi 1962, p. 10.
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