he 17 paintings that follow, offered without reserve in the 22 May Master Paintings auction, illustrate the diversity of religious art in the Italian Renaissance, including works by well-known artists as well as anonymous masters about whom we still have much to learn. Several regions of Italy and 500 years of art history are represented, beginning with a Florentine dossal dating to 1280 and spanning to a Venetian depiction of a saint from the 1730s. While styles changed drastically from early gold ground paintings to the Rococo, the recurrence of Catholic subject matter and iconography speaks to its lasting importance for Italian audiences in the early modern period.
- Circa 1280–85
- Circa 1320
- Circa 1363
- Circa 1370–1374
- Circa 1375–1400
- Circa 1380–90
- Circa 1425–1475
- Circa 1440
- Circa 1499
- Circa 1475–1500
- Circa 1500
- Circa 1506–09
- Circa 1520–1530
- Circa 1520s
- Circa 1530
- Circa 1730–35
This anonymous master was one of the main producers of horizontal dossals like the present example; however, this composition appears to be unique in his extant oeuvre. The two distinct scenes of nearly equal size could be inspired by two leaves of an open diptych, and the master’s expressionism can be seen in the exaggerated pose of Christ and the surreal elongated hands of the figures, particularly the Madonna.
This panel, decorated on both sides and small enough to carry, most likely formed the central section of a portable triptych used for private devotion by a patron affiliated with the order of the Poor Clares. The master depicted the angels' wings here in a schematic, colorful way that situates the painting in Emilia circa 1320, and suggests the influence of Giotto combined with a slightly archaic style.
These half-length saints once likely formed part of the second register of a now dismembered polyptych completed by Giusto de’ Menabuoi in Milan in 1363 for the Terzaghi, an important Milanese family. Though small in size, these panels are a testament to the formative years of the Florentine-born artist's early career in Lombardy, where he was active until around 1370, when he moved to Padua.
This small panel was painted in the early-1370s by the Florentine artist Matteo di Pacino, formerly known as the Master of the Rinuccini Chapel, whose distinct artistic personality arose from the influences of Bernardo Daddi and the Cione brothers. The horizontal format of the composition and the matching wood grain suggest this panel once formed part of a predella for a polyptych.
This small, remarkably well preserved fragment likely formed the central pinnacle of a portable triptych for private devotion. Active in the late 14th and possibly the early 15th century, the Master of the Richardson Triptych worked in the circle of Francesco di Vannuccio (c. 1356 - 1389) and was later influenced by Paolo di Giovanni Fei (1345 - 1411).
Active in the late trecento, the Master of the Lazzaroni Madonna is known for painting the allegorical figures for the fresco in the Palazzo Comunale di San Miniato in 1393. This Vir dolorum displays stylistic affinities with the Master of the Lazzaroni’s mature works.
Arezzo—these probably made for monastery altarpiece in Siena
This pair of narrow panels representing St. Agnes and St. Peter have often been proposed as lateral pilaster panels for the high altar of the Benedictine monastery at Monte Oliveto Maggiore, near Siena. Commissioned in 1384 and finished the following year, the altarpiece received special praise from Giorgio Vasari.
These two small panels of Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Andrew once formed part of a long predella, with Christ Blessing at the center and half-length depictions of twelve apostles on either side. The gentle eyes and the small, delicate hands of the two figures here are stylistically consistent with the Lombard style of the Zavattari workshop, active in the second and third quarters of the fifteenth century.
Bologna and the Marches
Although once ascribed to the Bolognese artist Giovanni da Modena, this painting is consistent with the youthful output of his student, Giovanni Antonio da Pesaro. It visually compares to a tradition that arose during the late Gothic period in Bologna, and it should be dated to to circa 1440, before the young artist's return to the Marches.
This early independent painting by Bernardino is roughly contemporary with his first known collaboration his brother Francesco, which is signed and dated 1499. The intimate scale and subject matter can be compared to a Madonna and Chid with St. Mary Magdalene and St. Christina formerly in the Kress Collection, New York, as well as a panel depicting the same subject as the present work in an Italian private collection.
Although the author of this small and expressive panel has yet to be identified, it closely compares to works painted in the Marche in the late 15th century such as a predella of circa1475-1480 by the Marchigian artist Nicola di Maestro Antonio d'Ancona in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum.
Bernardino de' Conti painted this tender depiction of the Madonna and Child around 1500. Clearly drawing on elements found in works by Leonardo and his contemporaries, De Conti conveyed a degree of stillness and serenity to the scene, set against a dark background.
The present tondo likely dates to 1506-09, the period just before Albertinelli resumed his collaboration with Fra Bartolommeo. The Madonna reveals Albertinelli’s move toward monumental forms while the cherubim holding banners demonstrate the lingering influence of surface details from his master Cosimo Rosselli.
Battista Dossi, the younger brother of Dosso, was primarily active in Ferrara, where he served alongside his brother in the Court of Alfonso I d’Este and Ercole II d’Este. Likely datable to the 1520s or 1530s, this tender rendition of the Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine illustrates the impact of Raphael on Battista.
Long thought to be an early work by Titian, the present landscape and figure types are more consistent with Bonifazio's works of the 1520s. Comparisons include the Sacra Conversazione in the National Gallery, London, and The Holy Family in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg, in which the Christ child appears especially close to this one.
This beautiful and softly lit scene of the Madonna warmly embracing her son and the young Saint John the Baptist is consistent with the mature output of Bartolomeo Ramenghi, named Bagnacavallo after his native town, and likely dates to circa 1530. Bagnacavallo trained as a young artist in Bologna in the thriving workshop of Francesco Francia, whose influence is apparent throughout much of the younger artist's career.
This depiction of St. Francis of Paola dates to the first half of the 1730s, and relates to two other half-length saints from the same period: St. Vincent Ferrer (formerly Venier collection, Milan) and St. Cajetan (Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro). In the early 1730s, Tiepolo had established his reputation in Venice with the recent completion of the large Roman history canvases for the Ca'Dolfin, and he garnered many religious and secular commissions as a result.