While a complete reconstruction of the original polyptych for which this panel was created remains elusive, two works from the same predella have been identified: the aforementioned Saint John the Evangelist (sold in these rooms this past January 2018 for $975,000; fig. 1), and a slightly wider (21.6 by 36.5 cm) panel depicting Saint Donatus of Arezzo encountering and taming the Dragon (sold Christie’s London, 23 June 1967, Lot 69). In each of these works, along with others by the artist from the 1450's, the halos are patterned using punched dots to create a repeated oval-shaped design. Their upper and lower edges are gilded in oxidized silver, tooled with a row of round hole punches.
An entry written by Andrea De Marchi endorsing the attribution to the Master of the Osservanza accompanies this work.
1. K. Christiansen in Painting in Renaissance Siena 1420–1500, exhibition catalogue, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 20 December 1988 – 19 March 1989, p. 99.
2. Reproduced in C. Alessi and P. Scapecchi, ‘Il Maestro dell’Osservanza: Sano di Pietro o Francesco di Bartolomeo?’, Prospettiva, vol. 42, 1985, p. 18, fig. 9, and a detail on p. 24, fig. 16. The predella is in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena.
3. R. Longhi, ‘Fatti di Masolino e di Masaccio’, in La Critica d’Arte, vol. 5, nos 3–4, 1940, pp. 188–89.
4. C. Brandi, Quattrocentisti senesi, Milan 1949, pp. 69–87.
5. Alessi and Scapecchi 1985, pp. 13–37; Alessi and Scapecchi substantially postdate his activity.
6. Graziani 1948, pp. 75– 88. Christiansen tentatively agreed with the identification put forward by Graziani, seeing it as the most likely solution (see Christiansen in New York 1988–89, p. 100) but Machtelt Isräels has more recently noted that Vico is an unlikely candidate on the basis of documentary evidence (see M. Isräels, Sassetta’s Madonna della Neve. An Image of Patronage, Leiden 2003, p. 29, note 75).
7. M. Falcone, ‘La giovinezza dorata di Sano di Pietro: un nuovo documento per la Natività della Vergine di Asciano’, in Prospettiva, 138.2010, 2011, pp. 28–48.
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