PUCCIO DI SIMONE | SAINT JAMES THE LESSER; SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

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PUCCIO DI SIMONE
Active in Florence circa 1345-1365
SAINT JAMES THE LESSER; SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST
a pair, both tempera on panel, gold ground
each: 99.7 by 34.6 cm.; 39¼ by 13⅝ in.
Price Available Upon Request

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PROVENANCE
London, Christie’s, 10 July 1987, lots 95 and 96;
Private collection, UK;
By whom sold, London, Sotheby’s, 5 December 2013, lot 157;
Where acquired by the present owner.

EXHIBITED
Seattle, Seattle Art Museum, Renaissance Art in Focus: Neri di Bicci and Devotional Painting in Italy, 25 March-13 June 1994, no. 60.

LITERATURE
M. Natale, Pittura italiana dal ‘300 al ‘500, Milan 1991, p. 223, reproduced (as probably executed in the 1340s under the direct influence of Bernardo Daddi);
E.S. Skaug, Punch Marks from Giotto to Fra Angelico: Attribution, Chronology and Workshop Relationships in Tuscan Panel Painting, With Particular Consideration to Florence, c. 1330- 1430, Oslo 1994, vol. I, p. 137 and note 12, and vol. II, unpaginated, chart no. 6.1;
R. Offner, A Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting, section III, vol. V, M. Boskovits (ed.) The Fourteenth Century: Bernardo Daddi and His Circle, Florence 2001, pp. 14, 18, 36, 489-91, 496 and 499 note 3, reproduced pp. 489, plates LIII,491, plate LIII1,3 (as datable to the 1340s);
E. Darrow and N. Dorman, Renaissance Art in Focus: Neri di Bicci and Devotional Painting in Italy, exhibition catalogue, Seattle 2004, pp. 57-60, cat. no. 60, reproduced in colour p. 58, figs. 1 and 2;
A. Labriola in M. Boskovits (ed.), The Alana Collection, Newark, Delaware, USA;
Italian Paintings from the 13th to 15th Century, Florence 2009, p. 176, note 9 and under cat. no. 30.

P uccio di Simone was active in Florence around the middle of the fourteenth century and was heavily influenced both by Maso di Banco and Bernardo Daddi. One of his early works, an Annunciation with two saints in the church of San Lorenzo in Florence, also betrays the influence of Giovanni da Milano. Puccio is first recorded as a painter in 1346 when his name was included in the records of the Arte dei Medici de Speziali, the guild of doctors, druggists and painters but he is known to have been active before then since his damaged frescoes in the Strozzi Chapel in Santa Maria Novella in Florence once bore the date of 1340.

These youthful works, probably datable to the late 1340s, formed part of the same dismembered polyptych as the Saint James the Greater in the Seattle Art Museum.1 Boskovits associated the latter with a Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine last recorded in Berlin with Paul Bottenweiser. In the original configuration, the Mystic Marriage would have formed the central component; along the left would have stood the present Saint James the Lesser and a fifth, as-yet unknown panel; on the right flank would have stood the Seattle Saint James the Greater and the present Saint John the Baptist (see Fig. 1). All the extant panels except the Saint John the Baptist stand out for their lavish use of the same decorative arabesque motif which is also present in several late works by Bernardo Daddi and his shop and it is likely that the two artists were collaborating regularly by the early 1340s.2

In 1959 Puccio’s oeuvre was significantly expanded when Roberto Longhi – to general acceptance from other scholars - identified him as the Master of the Fabriano Altarpiece, a sobriquet coined by Richard Offner after the Saint Anthony Abbot altarpiece in the Pinacoteca Civica in Fabriano which is dated 1353.3

Several of Puccio’s works are dated but only two are signed: a Madonna of Humility between four saints in the Accademia in Florence (inv. no. 8569), and a Madonna and Child in the Alana collection which is also dated 1360.4

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1. See Offner, under Literature, pp 497-99, plate LIII4, where the Seattle panel is given to a follower of Daddi.
2. See B. Klesse, Seidenstoffe in der italienischen Malerei des 14 Jahrhunderts, Bern 1967, pp. 234-35, cat. no. 121.
3. See R. Longhi, ‘Qualità e industria in Taddeo Gaddi ed altri – II’, in Paragone, no. 111, March 1959, p. 9.
4. See respectively R. Freemantle, Florentine Gothic Painters, London 1975, p. 90, reproduced fig. 175; and Boskovits, under Literature, p. 172-76, cat. no. 30, reproduced.

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