PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION
Very little is known of the life and career of Jacopo del Casentino, but his reputation amongst his peers is reflected by the fact that he was elected as the first consigliere of the newly founded Painters' Guild, the Compagnia di San Luca, in 1339. The only evidence as to his origins is his name, de Casentino, which appears on his one and only signed work, the Cagnola triptych, a portable tabernacle similar to the present work and which is today in the Uffizi in Florence. This is signed and inscribed: JACOBUS. DE. CASENTINO. ME .FECIT and probably dates to the 1320s.1 Vasari devoted a chapter of his Lives to him, and mistakenly claimed that he was a pupil of Taddeo Gaddi, and it was not until 1923 that Richard Offner first published a basis for his oeuvre.2 Jacopo is traditionally said to have run a large and prolific workshop, but the relatively limited number of extant works by his hand does not support this assertion. Any chronology for his work must remain uncertain, for only two of his surviving works are dated: these are a Presentation in the Temple in the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, which is dated to 1330 on its frame, and a damaged Madonna and Child of 1342 in the church of Santa Maria in Crespino sul Lamone.
This well preserved triptych is a very early example of the type of portable tabernacle intended for private devotion that was produced in Florence in the 1330s. It is one of a small number of similar small-scale works which Jacopo produced which clearly reflect the prevailing so-called 'miniaturist tendency' among Florentine painters moving away from the monumentality of the style of Giotto. Although in these Jacopo perhaps sought to follow the lead established by Bernardo Daddi and his shop, his large-scale works suggest that he was perhaps equally if not more comfortable on a grander scale. The lack of any chronology for Jacopo's career makes any date very speculative but the present panel most probably dates from the end of the 1330s. The punchmarks appear to be those which, in Skaug's analysis, were used by Jacopo and his shop in the period from around 1339-1342, and their relationship to those used in the Daddi workshop suggest that Jacopo had a close relationship with Daddi and may even have worked in his shop. Similar triptychs which also incorporate the Nativity and The Crucifixion in the wings include that in the Palazzo Barberini in Rome and those formerly in the Guggenheim and Goldschmidt collections.3 The uneven quality evident in these pictures suggests that they were, as Offner suggests, painted with at least partial assistance from the Casentino workshop.
For the collecting activities of Fritz von Goldammer (1866-1927) please see the note to lot 2 in this catalogue.
1. Inv. no. P815. For which see L. Bellosi, in Gli Uffizi. Catalogo Generale, Florence 1979, p. 319, and B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Florentine School, London 1963, vol. I, fig. 102.
2. 'Jacopo del Casentino, integrazione della sua opera', in Bolletino d'Arte, III, 1923-4, pp. 264-282.
3. Sold New York, Christie's, 11 January 1995, lot 119 ($426,000). See, for example, R. Offner, A Citical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting. The Fourteenth Century, III/II ed. M. Boskovits, Florence 1987, pp. 502-3.
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