Lot 104
  • 104

MASTER OF THE CHRIST CHURCH CORONATION | The Madonna and Child enthroned between Saints John the Baptist and Clement, with two Angels, in the pinnacle above the figure of Christ

50,000 - 70,000 GBP
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  • Master of the Christ Church Coronation
  • The Madonna and Child enthroned between Saints John the Baptist and Clement, with two Angels, in the pinnacle above the figure of Christ
  • tempera on panel, gold ground, arched top
  • main panel, painted surface: 127 x 72 cm.; 50 x 28 1/4  in.overall (with frame): 173.5 x 81.5 cm.; 68 1/4  x 32 1/8  in.


Probably commisioned from the artist by one of the Capitani of the Church of Orsanmichele in Florence (see note below);
Purchased in 1872 or 1873 in Edinburgh by James Reddie Anderson (b. 1854) of Keswick, Cumberland;
Upon whose death sold by order of his daughter, London, Sotheby's, 4 April 1948, lot 123, where offered as 'Florentine School, about 1360', as a triptych, the two dispersed wings depicting Saints Catherine and Lucy, and Saints Lawrence and James the Greater;
Private collection, Italy;
Acquired by the father of the present owner;
Thence by descent.


M. Boskovits, Pittura Fiorentina alla vigilia del Rinascimento 1370–1400, Florence 1975, p. 212, reproduced fig. 156;
C. Scalella, 'Contributi alla pittura fiorentina del secondo Trecento: il "Maestro dell'Incoronazione della Christ Church Gallery"', in Arte cristiana, 2001, 89, p. 121, reproduced p. 128, pl. 15b.


The following condition report is provided by Sarah Walden who is an external expert and not an employee of Sotheby's. This altarpiece is on a large poplar panel, which has had quite extensive worm damage behind in the distant past but appears to remain quite strong, and also to have stabilised over time, with evidence of past flaking losses or damage but no recent sign of movement in the wood or raised paint. A small recent loss in the centre is from within an old plaster repair. The Christ at the top is very well preserved generally, with a little retouching in the neck. The face of the Madonna has been retouched down the left side of the cheek and neck long ago in broad strokes, with a little more on the right of the neck, perhaps partly over underlying paint, but the main centre of the face is finely undisturbed. There is similar old retouching down the side of the Child's cheek and an old damage in the drapery near His elbow, from where the small loss mentioned above has fallen. The head of St John the Baptist is intact and complete, but his drapery has old repaint reinforcing various areas. St Clement also has some repaint across his drapery. The central area with the brocaded inner drapery of the Madonna, and her finely intact hand, has been well preserved, but her azurite drapery has become blackened, as is frequently the case, long ago and has old heavy repaint patchily lower down and in the veiling over her head. The gilding has suffered from washing presumably, exposing the underlying red bole, with an old damage at the top of the central halo. The arms of the angels have also been worn, but the head of the angel on the right especially remains well intact. There has been little intrusion for many decades and the overall condition seems to retain much of the quality such works may have had as they left Italy in the nineteenth century. 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

The Master takes his name from a Coronation of the Virgin in the Christ Church Picture Gallery, Oxford.1 A catalogue of his œuvre was first proposed by Offner, subsequently enlarged by Federico Zeri and further expanded by Boskovits.2 A triptych inscribed on the frame by the artist and dated 1373 was formerly at the Musée de la Bénédictine in Fécamp. It was the only known dated work but removal of the old frame after the work was offered at auction in 1995 has meant this is no longer visible.3 Scalella proposes a similar date of execution for the present work (see Literature).

Boskovits lists the Master as a satellite of Andrea di Cione, known as Orcagna, and suggests that he may well have collaborated with him on occasions. Certainly the spatial arrangement looks back to the work of the Cione brothers, as does the interest in the different decoration which lines the curtain held up by the two angels, as well as the details of the lining of Saint Clement's red cloak. A similarly wide range of decoration can be found in another Coronation of the Virgin, in the Kress Collection, Philbrook Art Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma.4

The initials OSM appear twice in the pinnacle of the frame. They refer to the church of Orsanmichele in Florence, suggesting that the work was commissioned for that church, probably by one of the Capitani. When sold in 1948 the panel was the central section of a triptych (see Provenance). The side panels, which Scalella records as already being dismembered by 1952, were sold Milan, Finarte, 27 October 1987, lot 78, and are now in a private collection, Italy.

1 See J. Byam Shaw, Paintings by Old Masters at Christ Church, Oxford, Oxford 1967, pp. 3334, cat. no. 7, reproduced pl. 9 (as Florentine School, circa 1360).
2 See Boskovits 1975 for a list of the works given to the artist by Zeri as well as his own attributions. Scalella offers the most up-to-date list of his works (Scalella 2001). A report by Roberto Longhi from 1952, filed in the archives of the Corpus of Florentine Painting, attributes the work to Puccio di Simone and dates it to the 1340s or 1350s.
3 See Scalella 2001, p. 117, reproduced p. 119, figs 2 and 3.
4 F. Rusk Shapley, Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection, London 1966, pp. 3233, cat. no. 64, reproduced fig. 72, where listed as a follower of Orcagna, but subsequently attributed to the Master of the Christ Church Coronation by Boskovits.