Master of the Latin Bible 18, possibly identifiable as Jacopino da Reggio, painted circa 1285
- Master of the Latin Bible 18, possibly identifiable as Jacopino da Reggio, painted circa 1285
- The Crucifixion with Saint Francis
- tempera on panel, gold ground
- 10 by 7 1/8 in.; 25.3 by 18.1 cm.
Mondadori Collection, Milan;
There purchased through an agent by the present collector in 2003.
E.B. Garrison, Italian Romanesque Panel Painting, An Illustrated Index, Florence 1949, p. 101, cat. no. 259a (as an anonymous Venetian master painting in the second quarter of the 14th century);
R. Longhi, "Postilla all'apertura sugli Umbri", in Paragone, 195, 1966, pp. 3 - 8, reproduced fig. 3 (detail) and 4;
R. Longhi, Giudizio sul Duecento e Ricerche sul Trecento nell'Italia Centrale, 1939 - 1970, Florence 1974, p. 161, reproduced fig. 61 (as Master of the Lat. 18 Bible, possibly identifiable as Franco Bolognese);
D. Benati, "La città sacra. Pittura murale e su tavola nel Duecento Bolognese", in Duecento, Forme e Colori del Medioevo a Bologna, exhibition catalogue, M. Medica ed., Bologna 2000, pp. 97, 99 - 100, reproduced p. 101;
M. Medica, "La città dei libri e dei miniatori", in Duecento, Forme e Colori del Medioevo a Bologna, exhibition catalogue, M. Medica ed., Bologna 2000, pp. 132 - 135, reproduced p. 101;
M. Medica, "Jacopino da Reggio", in Treccani: Dizionario biografico degli italiani, vol. 62, 2004, online edition.
The present Crucifixion is a rare example of panel painting from this period in Bologna. As Longhi recognized, this was not the work of a Byzantine master inspired by Western painting, but rather a Bolognese artist enthralled by influences of the Orient. As Massimo Medica asserts, this Crucifixion is an exceptionally rare example of the pictorial productivity of the Master of the Bible Lat. 18 who, alongside the Master of the Gerona Bible, pioneered the so-called “second style” of Bolognese manuscript decoration in the latter part of the 1200s. Much like in Venice and Siena, the circulation of Byzantine devotional images would have been diffuse in Bologna at this time. Byzantine tendencies therefore bled into traditional Bolognese painting, with local artists creating a hybrid style visible in literary illuminations, devotional pictures and even monumental decoration. The result was a rich and intricate synthesis of highly decorative oriental models with the pathos and complexity injected by the Florentine and Bolognese masters. Here, the Greek inscription on the lateral bar of the cross is an overt reference to the Eastern world. The sharp, geometricized folds in the drapery, the elongated, stylized limbs, all recall Byzantine paradigms. Yet the treatment of the Christ figure is testament to the influence of Cimabue and Duccio and, similarly, the poignancy of Saint Francis’ emotion as he clings to the base of the cross is entirely Emilian.
In the same 1966 Paragone article, Longhi further ventured that this artist, whom he referred to as Maestro della Bibbia Parigina (Master of the Paris Bible, or Master of the Bible Lat. 18 for our purposes), may be identifiable as Franco Bolognese, a miniaturist in service to the pope. In his epic poem, The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri describes meeting Franco in Purgatory, though amusingly the artist was still very much alive at the time of Dante’s writing.
In 1951, however, Pietro Toesca proposed an alternative identification of the Master of the Bible Lat. 18, considering him to be the Bolognese painter Jacopino da Reggio (not to be confused with the author of lot 13, who was active in Reggio Emilia with his brother, Bartolomeo, later in the century). Toesca suggested that the artist’s output was not merely restricted to panel and fresco painting but, in fact, extended further to manuscript illumination.1 This hypothesis was based on an inscription reading, Ut rosa flos florum sic liber iste librorum/ quem Jacobinus depinxit manu Reginus (As the rose is the flower of flowers so is this of books / which is painted by the hand of Jacopino da Reggio) in a copy of the Decretum Gratiani decorated by the same hand, now in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vatican City (Vat. lat., 1375). Toesca’s identification was later backed by Alessandro Conti in 1979.2
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this painting will be given to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, European Paintings department, to be used for future acquisitions.
1. P. Toesca, “Il Trecento”, in Storia dell’Arte Italiana, vol. II, Turin 1951, p. 838.
2. A. Conti, “Problemi di miniatura bolognese”, in Bollettino d'arte, VI, 64, 1979, pp. 1-28.