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THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN

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
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12

THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN

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
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Details & Cataloguing

Old Masters Evening Sale

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Mariotto di Nardo
ACTIVE IN FLORENCE 1394 - 1424
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
painted surface: 86 x 47 cm.; 33 7/8  x 18 1/2  in.
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Provenance

J.H. Weitzner, New York;

Private collection, Germany;

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

Thence by inheritance.

Literature

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.

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.

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