Master of the Madonna del Ponterosso, possibly identifiable as Giovanni di Papino Calderini
- Master of the Madonna del Ponterosso, possibly identifiable as Giovanni di Papino Calderini
- The Madonna and Child with Saints John the Baptist and Anthony Abate and two angels
- oil on panel, a tondo
- diameter: 35 5/8 in.; 90.5 cm.
The design for the Virgin and Child, used for both the present painting and the master’s eponymous fresco, relates to Pietro Perugino’s celebrated Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints John the Baptist and Sebastiano in the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence (fig. 2).1 Perugino’s Madonna was commissioned by Cornelia Martini, widow of the Florentine merchant, Giovanni Martini, and dates to 1493. It must be assumed that the cartoon remained in Perugino’s workshop from that date onwards and the master himself reprised the design for the central figures of his Madonna and Child with Saints in the church of Sant’Agostino, Cremona.2 The treatment of the angels in the present painting, meanwhile, is not at all Umbrian and seems much more northern in style, diverging from figures in the master's corpus.
The eponymous fresco was housed in a tabernacle near the Ponterosso or "red bridge" which traversed the local river in Figline Valdarno.3 Documents pertaining to the commission of the tabernacle, discovered through the studies of Nicoletta Baldini, have shed light on a possible identification of the fresco’s author.4 According to the documents, at some point between 14 March 1496 and 3 April 1499, the Florentine nobleman, Antonio Parigi, engaged a builder, a blacksmith and a painter for the construction and decoration of the tabernacle on his land at the edge of the river.5 The local painter, Giovanni di Papino Calderini, was charged with the tabernacle’s decoration and Baldini proposes the artist was the author of the Madonna and Child Enthroned, thus tentatively identifies him as the elusive Master of the Madonna del Ponterosso.6 When the river running beside the tabernacle burst its banks in 1557, the fresco was removed from its original position due to the resulting flooding and placed on the high altar of the new church, built in 1570, where it remains today.7
We are grateful to Professor Filippo Todini for reconfirming the attribution to his Master of the Madonna del Ponterosso on the basis of photographs.
1. For the Perugino altarpiece see P. Scarpellini, Perugino, Milan 1984, p. 87, reproduced p. 179, fig. 84.
2. Ibid., p. 88, cat. no. 61, reproduced p. 183, fig. 91.
3. N. Baldini, Nella bottega fiorentina di Pietro Perugino. Un’identità per il Maestro della Madonna del Ponterosso: Giovanni di Papino Calderini pittore di Figline, Figline Vadarno 2010, p. 5.
4. Ibid., pp. 5-10.
5. Ibid., p. 8.
7. Ibid., p. 5.