Taddeo di Bartolo
Saint Francis of Assisi; Saint William of Maleval
Taddeo di Bartolo
Siena 1362/3 (?) - after 1422
Saint Francis of Assisi;
Saint William of Maleval
a pair, both tempera on panel, gold ground
each, diameter: 12 ¼ in.; 33.5 cm.
The following condition report has been provided by Matt Hayes of Pietro Edwards Society of Art Conservation, 336 West 37th Street, Suite 1580, New York, NY 10018, 212-457-8956, firstname.lastname@example.org, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's.
St. William of Maleval
Much of the paint film is in quite good condition, with details such as the white hairs of the beard well preserved. Earlier vertical cracks to the panel (through the beard and garment on the proper left side), since repaired, have resulted in some paint loss. This and discrete lacunae have been beautifully retouched. The gilded background is in good condition, with a fine craquelure and only slight abrasion at the high points. A spot at the top of the halo has been repaired. The originally silvered passages—the cuffs and headpiece—are somewhat worn and tarnished. The varnish is clear and even, with a medium gloss.
The roundel preserves its original format, with a raised barbe of gesso at the edges of the paint. The panel has also maintained its original thickness and remains in plane. It is perhaps slightly trimmed at the edges, and some compensation has been applied to the reverse.
Like its pendant, much of this small tondo is in good condition, with delicately limned details. Vertical cracks following the wood grain have resulted in some losses, though bypassing important areas (running from the cheek to the sleeve). These and discrete lacunae throughout have been mitigated by skillful retouching. A more recent, minute recent loss is present at the opening of the saint's hood. The gilding is in relatively good state; it is slightly thinned, especially at high points, and shows some mending at the top and edges.
This roundel has also maintained its original format and thickness, and is in plane. The earlier cracks slightly interrupt the planarity of the surface.
Both panels have modern frames that are in good condition and slightly patinated.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE.
This pair of roundels, both with vertical wood grain, likely originated as parts of an altarpiece painted by Taddeo di Bartolo at the end of the trecento or beginning of the quattrocento. The two saints depicted, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Guglielmo da Malavalle (William of Maleval) both led exemplary lives as founders of religious orders in Italy. While devotion to Francis is widespread across Europe, William is more obscure and his presence suggests that the roundels came from an altarpiece for a church in southern Tuscany, where the saint retired at the end of his life. Two altarpieces by Taddeo include similar saints on roundels with vertical wood grain: one for the Cassasi of Pisa completed in 1395 and one for the Confraternity of San Francesco in Volterra finished in 1411. A Madonna dating to 1403 in Perugia also includes an untreated section of wood on which lines are traced indicating that roundels were originally intended to surround the main figure.
In 1401, Taddeo completed a commission in Montieri in the Maremma, which was under Sienese rule. It seems likely that the commission was for frescoes in the local church of St. Giacomo, and it is possible that for the church he also made a polyptych which would have included these two roundels. Federico Zeri proposed that this pair originated from the predella of a Franciscan altarpiece, but the vertical wood grain makes this hypothesis unlikely. If, as is suggested by both Gail Solberg and Zeri, these roundels date from circa 1400, they were painted at the beginning of Taddeo’s mature period, during which time he was employed at the Palazzo Pubblica in Siena. In 1401 he painted the impressive altarpiece of the Assumption of the Virgin with scenes from the Passion in the Duomo of Santa Maria dell’Assunta in Montepulciano.
The twelfth-century saint William of Maleval was a soldier who later converted and went on pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela and Jerusalem as penance for his sins. After a few years he returned to Italy and lived as a hermit on Monte Pruna near Pisa, and then in a desert valley later called Maleval in the territory of Castiglione della Pescaia, where he died in 1157. He founded the branch of the Hermits of Augustine called the Williamites and was beatified in 1202. Both William and Francis led monastic orders and symbolized a contemplative, ascetic form of piety.