Sold Without Reserve | MASTER OF THE MAGDALEN | ST. MARGARET, THE MADONNA AND CHILD, AND THE CRUCIFIXION WITH MOURNING SAINTS
Estimate: 300,000 - 500,000 USD
Property from a Distinguished Private Collection, Sold Without Reserve
MASTER OF THE MAGDALEN
(active in Florence, circa 1262 - 1290)
ST. MARGARET, THE MADONNA AND CHILD, AND THE CRUCIFIXION WITH MOURNING SAINTS
tempera on panel, gold ground
19½ by 28¼ in.; 49.5 by 71.8 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, email@example.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's.
This painting is in sound condition overall with a straightforward appearance, having little retouching on the surface. The paint layers display wear that is not surprising given the age of the painting and its having been removed from its original liturgical setting. The schematic technique holds together well despite obvious losses which, rather than having been reconstructed, have been restored to a neutral hue to match the tonality of aged gesso. The exception to this is in the garments of the diminutive saints at the foot of the cross, where retouching has been carried out to ensure the figures remain legible. Gaps in contours of bodies and facial details have been bridged to maintain the solidity of the forms. The background would originally have been fully gilded, and small hollows in the Madonna's crown would have been set with some type of jewels or stones. A glossy varnish coats the surface of the painting. The horizontally-grained wood panel support is structurally sound, with three old, grain-oriented cracks originating at the left and right edges. Although a more extensive restoration could be undertaken, the painting has a striking appearance in its current state and shows no need of any conservation intervention.
"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."
Private collection, Rome, 1988;
With Marco Grassi, New York, 1994-5;
Silvano Lodi Collection, Milan, by 2000;
Anonymous sale, London, Christie's, 7 December 2006, lot 40;
A. Tartuferi, "Un libro e alcune considerazioni intorno alla pittura del Duecento in Italia centrale", in Arte Cristiana, LXXVI, (November-December 1988): p. 442;
A. Tartuferi, La pittura a Firenze nel Duecento, Florence 1990, p. 94;
A. Tartuferi, "La decorazione miniata del Codice Riccardiano 453 e la Leggenda di Santa Margherita di Antiochia nella pittura italiana fra Due e Trecento: alcune osservazioni," in G. Lazzi, Le Leggende di Santa Margherita e Sant'Agnese, Castelvetro 2009, pp. 16-18, reproduced fig. 13;
A. Tartuferi, in S. Chiodo and S. Padovani, The Alana Collection, Italian Paintings from the 14th to 16th century, vol. III, Florence 2014, pp. 180-3, no. 25, reproduced p. 181.
First christened by Osvald Sirén, the Master of the Magdalen supervised a large workshop in Florence circa 1265-90 whose diverse output included dossals, altarpieces, crucifixes, painted coffers, and small devotional images. The anonymous master was one of the main producers of horizontal dossals like the present example; however, this composition appears to be unique in his extant oeuvre. Angelo Tartuferi proposes that the two distinct scenes of nearly equal size are inspired by two leaves of an open diptych, which often include a Madonna and patron saint on the left with a Crucifixion on the right, as seen here.
The saint at left, previously identified as a personification of "Ecclesia," is more likely St. Margaret of Antioch with her crown and crucifix. Beside her a large Madonna with a crown once adorned by cut glass jewels gazes directly at the viewer and holds a flower, associating her with the bride in the Song of Songs 2:1. The presence of St. Francis and probably St. Clare at the foot of the cross indicate that the original patron had Franciscan ties. The Master of the Magdalen's expressionism can be seen in the exaggerated pose of Christ and the surreal elongated hands of the figures, particularly the Madonna.
Tartuferi dates the present panel to circa 1280-85 based on stylistic comparisons with other known works. A Madonna and Child Enthroned with Angels and Saints typically dated to the mid-1270s in the Acton Collection, Florence, seems to be the source for the present panel's Madonna. A Madonna from a collaborative work with Grifo di Tancedi dated circa 1290 in the Timken Art Gallery, San Diego repeats the present Madonna's pose but includes more innovative iconographic details. Namely, the present panel features the archaic motif of Christ nailed to the cross with four nails, while the later collaborative work introduces a crucifixion with three nails, pioneered by Giotto in 1290 and not otherwise found in the Master of the Magdalen's works. This unusual dossal therefore comes from the artist's mature period and is representative of duecento Florentine painting before the influence of trecento painters.