Master Paintings & Sculpture Part I

Master Paintings & Sculpture Part I

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 20. Saint Francis of Assisi; Saint William of Maleval.

Taddeo di Bartolo

Saint Francis of Assisi; Saint William of Maleval

Auction Closed

January 28, 04:44 PM GMT


100,000 - 150,000 USD

Lot Details


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.

Private collection, Milan.
G.E. Solberg, Taddeo di Bartolo, exhibition catalogue, Cinisello Balsamo 2020, pp. 168 - 69, no. 10, reproduced in color p. 169.

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.