Lot 1
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Master of the San Bartolomeo Triptych

70,000 - 90,000 USD
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  • Master of the San Bartolomeo Triptych
  • The betrayal of Christ
  • tempera on panel, gold ground


Acquired from a private collection by the present owner in the 1970s.


The following condition report has been provided by Karen Thomas of Thomas Art Conservation LLC., 336 West 37th Street, Suite 830, New York, NY 10018, 212-564-4024, info@thomasartconservation.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. The paint layers are generally in very good condition although coated with a discolored varnish which suppresses the color range and does not sufficiently saturate the paint; note the minute facial features and varied details in the drapery of the garments which remain intact. Scattered losses in the paint film are minor, with larger, partially repaired losses along top likely due to removal from original setting. The back of the panel retains a preparation including a red-orange wash. Careful cleaning would brighten the picture and a precise restoration would bring the intricate iconography back into focus.
"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

This rare, Marchigian master takes his name from an unusual Late Gothic triptych dating to 1408, removed from San Bartolo (or rather, San Bartolomeo), Urbino, in 1864 and now in the Galleria Nazionale  delle Marche, Urbino.1  Working in the last decade of the trecento and early into the following century, the Master of the San Bartolomeo Triptych was the most active painter in Urbino of the period, yet his oeuvre had been misunderstood and largely ignored until becoming the focus of a conference lecture and resulting article by Andrea De Marchi in 2007.2   The painter’s work had been initially difficult to classify, as his paintings emerged from an amalgam of influences from the beginning of the fourteenth century, transcending a variety of cities, from Spinello and Andrea di Nerio in Arezzo to Matteo di Ser and Cola Petruccioli in Perugia, and Giovanni di Corraduccio in Foligno.3  The corporality of the Master’s figures, the like of which were so prevalent in the Tuscan Neogiottesque movement of the late 1300s, was combined with a retardataire fascination for volume and architecture which typically occupied artists earlier in the century.

The rectangular scenes in the predella and lateral panels of the Master’s eponymous triptych bear marked parallels with this hitherto unpublished depiction of the Betrayal of Christ.  Like those in the triptych, the scene has a delightful sense of anecdotal narrative.  Christ is depicted frontally at the center of the composition, on one side embraced by Judas, while on the other, a soldier springs to apprehend him, already grasping his arm.  The Sanhedrin priests talk among themselves, depicted in exotic robes, and in the background, the remaining apostles can be seen fleeing beyond the hills, only their heads visible in a charmingly naïve representation of perspective.  The gilded ornamentation of the soldiers’ armor,  the decoratively bordered fabric of the robes and the soft, round-cheeked faces all recall elements of the Urbino triptych.  However this newly discovered panel dates earlier than the eponymous triptych, toward the end of the 14th century.

As Andrea De Marchi indicates, a long predella panel would have a horizontal grain and its reverse, which would not be on display, would not have a prepared surface but would more likely be rough wood.5   Here, however, the vertical grain of the wood and red gesso preparation on the reverse suggest the panel formed part of the closeable wing of a triptych, rather than a predella. 

We are grateful to Andrea De Marchi for recognizing this panel as the work of the Master of the San Bartolomeo Triptych and dating to the end of the 14th century.


1.  A. De Marchi, “Due ignoti pittori tardogotici a Urbino e a Rimini”, in Nuovi studi sulla pittura tardogotica.  Intorno a Gentile da Fabriano, Livorno 2007, p. 133, reproduced fig. 1.
2.  Ibid., pp. 133 – 141.
3.  Ibid., p. 136.
4.  A. De Marchi, private communication dated 31 August 2013.
5.  Ibid.