Lot 12
  • 12

Mariotto di Nardo

200,000 - 300,000 GBP
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  • Mariotto di Nardo
  • The Madonna and Child enthroned, with Saint Peter, Saint John the Baptist, Saint Catherine of Alexandria and one other female saint and angels
  • tempera and gold on panel, pointed top


J.H. Weitzner, New York;

Private collection, Germany;

In the collection of the father of the present owner by 1965;

Thence by inheritance.


M. Boskovits, 'Mariotto di Nardo e la formazione del linguaggio tardo-gotico a Firenze negli anni intorno al 1400', Antichità viva, 1968, VII, 6, pp. 2122, reproduced in black and white on p. 24, fig. 3;

M. Boskovits, Pittura fiorentina alla vigilia del Rinascimento 1370–1400, 1975, pp. 395–96.


The following condition report is provided by Sarah Walden who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's: Mariotto di Nardo. The Madonna and Child with Saints. This painting is on a thick poplar panel with one central joint and two minor side joints. It has been quite worm ridden in the past but remains strong with past movement long ago stabilised and small recent butterfly inserts behind to secure the joints. A narrow curving strip protects the edges all round. The central joint runs through the head of the Madonna, but this has caused only a little more than a single narrow line of retouching, and her head is finely preserved otherwise, as is that of the Child. Her robe, which may be in lapis lazuli, has had rather widespread old retouching. Many areas in the figures have been cleaned quite recently, but older retouching and older varnish has been left untouched in various places. For instance the varnish on the complex richly brocaded hanging behind the Madonna's throne has largely been left untouched as the deep madder red appears likely to have been vulnerable and was perhaps strengthened in the past after wear. Fragile yellow pigments in the angel's drapery also seem in places to have been reinforced in the past. Many beautifully intact areas remain throughout however, including the fine Apostle at lower left. The head of St John the Baptist on the right is perhaps fractionally less perfectly preserved, and the lamb in his arms has prudently been left untouched in the recent cleaning, but every detail in his furred drapery is immaculately intact, as are many details of the angels. This report was not done under laboratory conditions.
"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

In this delicately painted work Mariotto di Nardo, a leading late Gothic painter active in Florence during the final decade of the fourteenth century and into the first quarter of the fifteenth century, represents a holy conversation against a backdrop of plummeting angels. Miklós Boskovits, who identified the panel as a work by Mariotto, dates it to 1405–10.    

The work of Mariotto di Nardo, son of the stone-cutter Nardo di Cione (fl. c. 1380), is well attested by numerous surviving documents and paintings, many of which are dated. Demand for his work was high; he was employed on public and private commissions at Florence Cathedral and at some of the city’s most prestigious churches, foremost among them Santa Maria Maggiore and Orsanmichele. Later his services were sought beyond his native Tuscany.

An altarpiece of 1394–95 of the Virgin and Child with Saints for the church of San Donnino at Villamagna, Bagno a Ripoli, still in situ, is among Mariotto’s earliest securely attributed works.1 As in this painting, the Virgin and Child are flanked on the left by Saint Peter and on the right by Saint John the Baptist. Also considered to have been painted early is an altarpiece by Mariotto at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Of comparable dimensions to the Virgin and Child enthroned with Saints and Angels, it depicts The Coronation of the Virgin. Boskovits assigns the latter a date of 1385–90.2 The saints in the present panel possess similar facial traits to those in the works mentioned above. Furthermore in its chromatic range – notably the pinks blended with yellows, purples and reds – this painting shares some of the same vibrant colour harmonies found in earlier works.

A striking degree of invention is present here in the conceit of the angels: four celestial beings swoop down from the starry heavens to hold up the fronds of the richly patterned cloth. The depiction of the Virgin's throne under a baldachin supported by angels is a highly unusual idea. While the presence of standing angels holding the cloth of honour is a recurrent motif in Mariotto’s work, adopted for instance for the design of a later panel at the Museo Civico in Pistoia,3 the angels in this image of the Virgin and Child enthroned are without precedent. Furthermore, as Boskovits has pointed out, the placement of the lamb in the arms of the Baptist also demonstrates the painter's originality. The arrangement of the saints, here shown kneeling around the Madonna and Child, is characteristic of Mariotto's compositions, comparable for instance to the music-making angels in the central part of the large triptych by Mariotto in the Serristori collection, Florence, of 1424, his latest datable work.4


1. Boskovits 1975, plate 152/a.

2. No. M.28; tempera and gold on panel, 80.7 x 52.1 cm.; J. W. Goodison and G.H. Robertson, Catalogue of Paintings in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge,Volume II: Italian Schools, Cambridge 1967, pp. 99–100, plate 17; Boskovits 1975, p. 390.

3. Boskovits 1975, p. 400 (as 1415–20). Photo in the Witt Library, London.

4. Reproduced in R. Freemantle, Florentine Gothic Painters, London 1975, p. 453, fig. 938.