Lot 9
  • 9

Master of the Medici Chapel Polyptych, circa 1315/20

Estimate
400,000 - 600,000 USD
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Description

  • Master of the Medici Chapel Polyptych, circa 1315/20
  • Triptych with the Madonna and Child Enthroned with Angels and Saints; Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata; The Crucifixion
  • gold ground, tempera on panel with a triangular top

Provenance

On the Florentine Art Market, 1930s (according to a stamp on the reverse which reads Ufficio Esportazione di Firenze, 193?);
Art Market, New York (according to A. Tartuferi's entry on the painting in the 1999 exhibition catalogue, see Literature).

Exhibited

Florence, Moretti Gallery, Da Bernardo Daddi a Giorgio Vasari, September 1999 (no cat. nos.).

Literature

B. Berenson, "Quadri senza casa -- Il Trecento fiorentino, I," in Dedalo, XI, 1930-31, pp. 972-973;
B. Berenson, Homeless Paintings of the Renaissance, H. Kiel, ed., London 1969, p. 82, reproduced (as an Umbrian? Follower of Giotto);
A. Tartuferi, in Da Bernardo Daddi a Giorgio Vasari, exhibition catalogue, Florence 1999, pp. 18-23, reproduced. 

Condition

The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This charming triptych has been recently restored and should be hung as is. There are some obvious yet well applied repairs to the frame. The lower shelf beneath the central panel and the moldings on the top of the wings are not period. The gilding seems to be the original and what retouching there is has been very well handled. There is a slightly open crack in the lower center, yet this does not appear to be unstable. There are a few spots of retouching in Christ's red gown, but the other retouches are few and far between. No further restoration is necessary
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

The present triptych, with its depiction of the enthroned Madonna and Child and its moving renditions of the stigmatization of Saint Francis and the Crucifixion in the two wings, was first attributed to the Master of the Medici Chapel Polyptych by Angelo Tartuferi in his entry on the altarpiece for the 1999 Florence exhibition catalogue (see Literature).  The Master's eponymous work is a large polyptych depicting the Madonna and Child that was originally commissioned for the Medici Chapel in the church of Santa Croce.1  The Master of the Medici Chapel Polyptych was clearly familiar with the figurative style of Giotto, to which he remained faithful throughout his career, while at the same time adapting that language to his own interpretive manner. 

Tartuferi dates the present triptych to the phase of the Master's activity between 1315-1320 and notes the similarities of handling and style between it and a triptych in the Horne Museum in Florence depicting The Crucifixion of Christ with Saints John the Baptist, Francis of Assisi and Philip the Apostle (inv. no. 44).  Of particular interest is the comparison between the figures of Saint Francis in each altarpiece, whose pose and expression are highly reminiscent of one another, as are the apparitions of Christ that appear and deliver the stigmata.  Additionally, the depiction of the Crucifixion in the right wing of the present work can be compared to the wing of a diptych now in the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (inv. no. 17122), which reveals a very similar disposition of the body of Christ and similar arrangement of angels ministering to him.   

Although Bernard Berenson was familiar with the work and published it as by an Umbrian follower of Giotto in the early 1930s, he knew the work only in its previous, highly overpainted state.  Subsequent cleaning removed many of the confusing elements and revealed a work that was both highly moving and characteristic of the Master's style, which is fully entrenched in the modes and manners of early 14th century Florentine painting. 

1.  For a more complete discussion of the Master of the Medici Chapel Polyptych, see R. Offner, A Corpus of Florentine Painting, Sec. III, vol. II, part II, New York 1930, pp. 73-84, who was the first to identify this Master and to begin a reconstruction of his oeuvre.  For more recent discussions, see also L. Bellosi, Buffalmacco e il Trionfo della morte, Turin 1974, p. 61, no. 72 and p. 72 no. 96; A. Ladis, "An Early Trecento Madonna Uncovered," in Antichit√† Viva, XXII, 1983, pp. 5-10; M. Boskovits, A Corpus of Florentine Painting, Sec. III, vol. IX, Florence 1984, pp. 54-55; R. Offner, Corpus, Miklos Boskovits, ed., Sec. III, vol. II:  Elder Contemporaries of Bernardo Daddi, Florence 1987, pp. 355-380.