Lot 4
  • 4

TADDEO GADDI | Saint Anthony Abbot

800,000 - 1,200,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Taddeo Gaddi
  • Saint Anthony Abbot
  • tempera on panel, gold ground
  • 24 1/2  by 13 1/2  in.; 62.2 by 34.3 cm.


Probably the Church of Santa Maria delle Croce al Tempio, Florence, from circa 1343-until at least 1755;
Private collection, Germany;
Anonymous sale, Berlin, Rudolph Lepke, 6-7 March 1928, lot 74 (as Holy Monk, Florentine School, circa 1450);
Alexander Rudigier, Munich;
With Fabrizio Moretti, by 2005;
From whom acquired by a private collector, New York.


Florence, Uffizi Gallery, L'eredità di Giotto: arte a Firenze 1340-1375, 10 June - 2 November 2008, no. 14.


R. Offner, A Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting, Supplement, New York 1981, p. 71 (as whereabouts unknown);
E.S. Skaug, Punch Marks from Giotto to Fra Angelico, Oslo 1994, vol. I, p. 93, vol. II, no. 387;
E.S. Skaug, "The Santa Felicita Altarpiece and Some Observations on Taddeo Gaddi's Punchwork and Halo Style c. 1345–1355," in Il polittico di Taddeo Gaddi in Santa Felicita a Firenze: restauro, studi e ricerche, Florence 2008, pp. 53–54;
A. Tartuferi, in L'eredità di Giotto: arte a Firenze 1340-1375, exhibition catalogue, Florence 2008, pp. 120-123, reproduced p. 123.  


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. A recent piece of wood has been added to the reverse of this work. The panel is flat, and the paint layer is stable with an attractive surface. There is a loss that has been retouched in the traditional Italian way in the lower left corner of the work; the restoration is visible but complementary to the remainder of the picture. This area measures about 7-8 inches by 2 ½ inches. Retouches are otherwise scarce within the figure, and can be seen under ultraviolet light in six or eight spots in the light colored mauve on the right side. The face and the beard are in beautiful condition. While the frame has been re-gilded, the gilding around the figure seems to be considerably older and possibly original. Aside from the area of restoration in the lower left, the work is in extremely good condition.
"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 finely rendered gold ground panel of Saint Anthony Abbot is by Taddeo Gaddi, Giotto's favorite and most successful pupil.  A mature work of high quality and confidence, it dates to circa 1345-1350 and presumably once formed part of a polyptych in the Florentine Church of Santa Maria Vergine della Croce al Tempio, along with two other panels found today in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museo Bandini in Fiesole.  In this panel, Saint Anthony Abbot (circa 251-356), a hermit saint and the founder of monasticism,  is visible in three-quarter length as an aged man wearing a plain monk's cloak and cowl with remnants of his staff and its tau-shaped handle, he faces to the viewer's left, with a downward gaze.  He is expressively rendered with exquisite detail and sophistication so as to wholly capture the noble simplicity that defines his character.  Taddeo worked with Giotto for over twenty-four years, during which time he is known to have carried out several important and independent projects, most notably the fresco cycle of the Life of the Virgin in the Baroncelli chapel in the Florentine church of Santa Croce which dates from 1328 and for which he is arguably best known today.1  After the death of his master in 1337, Taddeo took on the mantle as Florence’s leading painter, and though he individualized his own style, his output remained deeply influenced by Giotto’s idiom throughout his career.  His work, and that of his sons, particularly Agnolo Gaddi, ensured that the Giottesque tradition and approach to painting were the dominant force in Florence until Agnolo’s death in 1396.

Although the attribution of the present panel is certain, it largely escaped the attention of art historians throughout the 20th century, even overlooked by Andrew Ladis in his 1982 monograph on the artist.  In 1981, however, Offner first recognized the hand of this work, sold in 1928 with an attribution of "Florentine School" and an incorrect date of circa 1450, as that of Taddeo Gaddi.  He further observed its relationship in both size and format with the Saint Julian formerly in the Rudolf Heinemann collection, but today in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (fig. 1).2  Like Saint Julian, the present work was originally cropped at the same points along the upper edge—the gable above the halo of Saint Anthony Abbot is reconstructed—and has been cut down at the lower edge.  Such details suggest that both panels were once of a larger dimensions and originally depicted full-length saints. 

In 1959, Roberto Longhi was the first to note the relationship between the Metropolitan Saint Julian and Gaddi's panel of the Annunciation today in the Museo Bandini in Fiesole (fig. 2), a connection that now also extends to include to the present work.3  Today it seems unquestionable that these two saints once formed the outer components of a polyptych, with the Annunciation in Fiesole at center (fig. 3), and they were likely topped by pinnacles with smaller paintings in the upper register and predella scenes along the lower.  All three works share the same punchwork and an undulating vine around their borders as well as an identical punched trefoliated shape in the halos of the figures.  Some of this punchwork is used frequently by Taddeo, but the trefoliated shape is rare, and appears only on these three works, making their original intended relationship all the more certain.  The punchwork also helps to more securely date the panels, for according to Skaug, the stippled texture surrounding the decorative details made of simple points from a stylus, rather than a ring punch that Taddeo used prior, further points to a date of circa 1345-1350.4  

This polyptych once likely formed the high altar in the Church of Santa Maria delle Croce al Tempio in Florence.  Even though the Annunciation is today in Fiesole, a recent restoration on that work revealed two medallions in the upper corners of its original frame emblazoned with the symbols of this church's confraternity, founded in 1343, further solidifying initial location of that panel as well as the altarpiece as a whole.5  As a result, it seems that this was the altarpiece seen on the high altar of this church by Father Giuseppe Richa in 1755, which he described as una Nunziata assai antica,6 evidence that all three panels likely remained intact and together until at least the 18th century. 


1.  See A. Ladis, Taddeo Gaddi: A Critical Reappraisal and Catalogue Raisonné, Columbia, Missouri 1982, pp. 88-112, cat. no. 4, with all details of the chapel reproduced.
2.  See Offner, in Literature.
3. See R. Longhi, "Qualità a industria in Taddeo Gaddi-I," in Paragone, X, no. 109, 1959, p. 39.  Longhi also tentatively suggested a date of the early 1340s and linked it to the now-lost Santissima Annunziata altarpiece.  The altarpiece connection was further supported by Parronchi in 1964, but he recognized it as a pinnacle and dated it to circa 1332.
4. See Skaug 2008, in Literature. 
5. See M. Scudieri, ll museo Bandini a Fiesoli, Florence 1993, p. 82.
6. G. Riccha, Notizie istoriche delle chiese fiorentine divise ne' suoi quartieri, vol. II, 1755, p. 132.