Cortona circa 1450 - 1523
SAINT FRANCIS; SAINT ANTHONY ABBOT
a pair, each oil on panel
each: 9⅞ by 10 in.; 25.1 by 25.4 cm.
The following condition report has been provided by Karen Thomas of Thomas Art Conservation LLC., 336 West 37th Street, Suite 830, New York, NY 10018, 212-564-4024, firstname.lastname@example.org, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's.
This pair of small panels appear to have undergone more than one campaign of restoration, all of which is carefully applied and not noticeable in normal light. Ultra-violet illumination reveals the most recent retouches which were applied to visually suppress select drying cracks. A mottled fluorescence in the varnish impedes confirming the presence of previous restorations, however, earlier retouching seems to knit together overall wear and reinforce folds in the garments. Each saint is painted on a thick, vertically grained wood panel; an exposed border of unpainted wood is visible around the painted image area, and a raised barbe of paint suggests that now-missing framing elements were attached to the boards before the images were painted. A series of fine grain-oriented cracks in the upper half of the picture of St. Francis display slight tenting. A vertical crack in the painting of St. Anthony Abbot is found left of center and displays lifting in the upper half. Both paintings are coated with a thick, slightly cloudy varnish and a layer of dirt. Cleaning to remove the dirt may be considered to brighten the pictures; the extent of past retouching should be noted when making any decision to take cleaning further.
"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."
Luca Signorelli, along with Piero della Francesca (circa 1415 - 1492) and Pietro Perugino (circa 1450 - 1523), was one of the most prominent Umbrian painters of the 15th and early 16th century. Born around 1445 in Cortona, Signorelli was a pupil of Piero, whose style had great influence on the young artist's work. Signorelli is regarded as one of the most important precursors of the High Renaissance and is said to have inspired Michelangelo's compositions from the early 1500s.
The size, composition and typology of the Saints presented here suggest they were pilaster bases in the predella of a large, single-panel altarpiece. The loose modelling of the forms, along with the conventional rendering of the heads and drawing of the folds place these panels within Signorelli’s mature oeuvre. The proportions of the figures, the physiognomy of the faces, and the fall of the draperies bear a strong resemblance to Signorelli's Saint Roch1 and Saint Sebastian2 from 1515-20 in Accademia Carrara, Bergamo.
We are grateful to Professor Laurence B. Kanter for endorsing the attribution to Luca Signorelli after first-hand inspection.
1. Tempera on panel, 29.6 by 16.3 cm. See http://catalogo.fondazionezeri.unibo.it/entry/work/20784/
2. Tempera on panel, 29.6 by 16.3 cm. See http://catalogo.fondazionezeri.unibo.it/entry/work/20785/