E. Merciai, "Il probabile Giovanni di Tano Fei: un interprete bizzarro del gotico internazionale a Firenze", in Arte Cristiana, XCI, 815, March - April 2003, pp. 81-82, reproduced p. 83, fig. 8 (as Giovanni di Tano Fei (?)).
Nota a catalogo
Giovanni di Tano Fei, a satellite of Agnolo Gaddi, was formerly known as the Master of 1399, a name coined by Miklós Boskovits, as well as the Metropolitan Master of 1394, a name used by Richard Offner.1 Both nomenclatures derive from his only two dated paintings, one in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the other in the Ospedale Serristori in Figline Valdarno. It was Boskovits who first identified the artist as Giovanni di Tano Fei, a proposal which has generally been accepted by scholars.
Dated to the 1390s by Merciai (see Literature), the panel should be compared stylistically to another Madonna dell'Umiltà in the Acton Collection, Florence.2 The presence of a tentative question mark in Merciai's text does not cast doubt on the attribution so much as point out that there is still some uncertainty over the identification of the artist as Giovanni di Tano Fei.
The attribution of the panel was first proposed by Everett Fahy.
1. See M. Boskovits, Pittura fiorentina alla vigilia dle Rinascimento, 1375-1400, Florence 1975, p. 359-62, reproduced figs. 426-438; and R. Offner, A Legacy of Attributions, in Corpus of Florentine Painting - Supplement, New York 1981, pp. 58-59. 2. See Boskovits, op. cit., p. 360, reproduced fig. 430.
The catalogue illustration is too red in tone. The painting has recently been cleaned and restored.
The panel has a series of old splits which are now held by metal and wood braces on the reverse and inset butterfly battens. The only split visible on the front of the panel is on the right hand side, running down from the top edge through the head of the Christ child. The paint surface is in reasonably good overall condition. The blues of the Madonna's robes have now oxidised and been heavily repainted. The original gold brocade on the hem of the robe has mostly worn away. The pastiglia of the haloes is largely intact but has also been restored. The tempera is much better preserved: the faces and other drapery have only minor repairs, notably a series of six small (50 mm) touched out losses on the nose, neck and hands of the Madonna and the cheek of the Christ child. The Christ Child's sleeve has been repainted. The background has suffered a little from wear but is quite reasonably preserved, without too much intervention except on the lower left hand side. The varnish remains clear and even and the painting should not require any further attention.
The tabernacle frame is well presented and appears in good overall condition. "In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."