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Property from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Giovanni di Francesco Toscani

Madonna and Child with Angels

Auction Closed

May 25, 03:13 PM GMT


100,000 - 150,000 USD

Lot Details


Property from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Giovanni di Francesco Toscani

Florence 1372-1430

Madonna and Child with Angels

tempera on panel, gold ground

painted surface: 35 by 21 in.; 88.9 by 53.3 cm.

with engaged frame: 45½ by 23½ in.; 115.6 by 59.7 cm.

Please note there is a Guarantee and an Irrevocable Bid on this lot.
Achillito Chiesa, Milan, until 1927;
His sale, New York, American Art Association, 23 November 1927, lot 121 (as Florentine 14th-15th century; for $900);
There acquired with funds from the James H. Madison Fund for the Fine Arts Academy, Buffalo (thereafter Albright Art Gallery).

R. Offner, "The mostra del Tesoro di Firenze sacra - II", in The Burlington Magazine 63, no. 367 (Oct. 1933): p. 173, note 17 (as Master of the Griggs Crucifixion);
A.C. Ritchie, Albright Art Gallery: Catalogue of the Paintings and Sculpture in the Permanent Collection, Buffalo 1949, pp. 116-117 (as Master of the Griggs Crucifixion);
B.B. Fredericksen and F. Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections, Cambridge, MA 1972, p. 204 (as Toscani, tentatively dated to 1423).

Since the early twentieth century, a stylistically uniform group of paintings has been attributed, by Offner and others, to the anonymous Master of the Griggs Crucifixion, a name derived from the altarpiece at the Metropolitan Museum, New York. The artist was identified with the discovery of a 1423 document recording payment to Giovanni Francesco Toscani for a pair of frescoes clearly belonging to the same oeuvre in the Ardinghelli chapel in Santa Trinità, Florence. Toscani’s primary influence was the sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti, but he also worked in the International Gothic style and is therefore close to Arcangelo di Cola da Camerino and Rossello di Jacopo Franchi. Offner noted Toscani’s “raw, vigorous personality” and listed his defining characteristics as pale green and pink flesh tones, uniform curly blonde hair, tight mouths, and the nimbus-shaped halo with a pattern resembling Kufic script against a cross-hatched ground.1 All of these features are on display in the Albright-Knox panel, in addition to the charming iconographic additions of the trio of musician angels floating at upper right and the coral necklace worn by the infant Christ, intended as both a protective amulet and possibly a teething toy.

The Madonna is seated on the ground in a position of humility, with an elaborately brocaded red cushion just visible behind her. She holds Jesus on her lap, who sits up and faces the viewer, offering a blessing gesture. His delicate necklace with a red coral pendant was a typical accessory for young children in the Renaissance as it was believed to offer protection. Coral, which is durable but yields slightly to pressure, also served as teething material for babies in this period, though certainly not today. At the upper right a trio of diminutive angels floats toward the Madonna on a cloud, playing, respectively from left, a lute, pipes, and a harp. The angels share the same elongated eyes, tight-lipped mouths and blonde curly hair as the Holy Family and their faces are modeled with the same light green tones in the shadows.

1. See R. Offner, "The mostra del Tesoro di Firenze sacra - II", in The Burlington Magazine 63, no. 367 (Oct. 1933), p. 173.