PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION
In the collection of the father of the present owner by 1963;
Thence by descent.
John G. Johnson Collection: Catalogue of Italian Paintings, Philadelphia 1966, p. 52;
F. Rossi, ‘Lo 'stile feltresco': arte tra Gubbio e Urbino nella prima metà del '400’, in Rapporti artistici fra le Marche e l’Umbria, Convegno interregionale di Studio, Fabriano–Gubbio, 8–9 giugno 1974, Perugia 1977, pp. 58–59; n. 19 (as by the same hand as the painter of the Johnson Coronation, probably from Fabriano);
La pittura in Italia: il Duecento e il Trecento, E. Castelnuovo (ed.), Milan 1986, vol. II, p. 606 (as Master of the Terni Dormition);
F. Todini, La pittura umbra del duecento al primo cinquecento, Milan 1989, vol. I, p. 130, vol. II, reproduced p. 238, fig. 526 (as Master of the Terni Dormition);
F. Zeri, Giorno per giorno nella pittura: scritti sull’arte dell’Italia centrale e meridionale dal trecento al primo cinquecento, Archivi di arte antica, vol. 3, Turin, 1992, p. 46–47, reproduced fig. 44 (as Master of the Terni Dormition);
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Paintings from Europe and the Americas in the Philadelphia Museum of art: A Concise Catalogue, Philadelphia 1994, p. 218 (as Master of the Terni Dormition, c. 1390–1400);
C.B. Strehlke, Italian paintings 1250–1450 in the John G. Johnson Collection and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia 2004, pp. 317–18, Companion Panel B, reproduced fig. 56.3 (as Master of the Terni Dormition, c. 1415).
In 1913 The Coronation of the Virgin was attributed by Bernard Berenson to Nelli Ottaviano. Zeri later recognised it as a work by the Master of the Terni Dormition, an attribution upheld by Strehlke in his recent catalogue of the Johnson collection. Zeri’s attribution to the Master of the Terni Dormition for the Saint Louis of Toulouse is first recorded in 1957; so too for the Saint Bartholomew, formerly in the Sterbini collection and since 1936 in the Pinacoteca Capitolina.2 His discussion of the three panels as part of the same triptych (or conceivably a polyptych, though no other panels have yet come to light) was published in 1963 and forms an important basis for his analysis of the Master of the Terni Dormition.
The gabled top of this panel – same in form to that of Saint Bartholomew – would originally have matched the centre panel of the Coronation. The latter, in spite of being cut and missing some figures of music-making angels, as well as having suffered from over-cleaning, nevertheless still retains much of the brocade cloth of honour, described by Strehlke as a superb example of sgraffito. The overall effect of the triptych would have been sumptuous. The tooling of the gold is particularly elaborate, deployed to achieve a range of different effects that in the Saint Louis are especially well preserved. The punch marks on Saint Louis’ halo correspond with those on the halo of Christ in the altarpiece’s centre panel.3 His cope is embellished with golden fleurs-de-lys, denoting his family ties to the French crown. Louis (1274–1297) was the second son of Charles II, king of Naples, and nephew of Louis IX of France; he renounced the throne in favour of his brother Robert and entered the Franciscan Order. In 1297 he was consecrated Bishop of Toulouse but died later that year. Like Bartholomew he is shown seated on a throne raised on an elaborate plinth. Louis’ youthful features contrast with those of the dark-haired and bearded middle-aged companion saint.
The triptych’s early provenance is not known. The inclusion of Saint Bartholomew on the left wing prompted the suggestion that the original location might be the Franciscan Observant Church of San Bartolomeo a Marano, outside Foligno. Paolo Trinci, known as Paoluccio, was the founder of the Franciscan Observant convent there. Strehlke has pointed out connections between Saint Louis of Toulouse, his brother Robert of Anjou, King of Naples and Bishop Paolo Trinci, an uncle of Paoluccio’s and their shared Franciscan objectives. The presence in the painting of Saint Louis of Toulouse may indeed link it to a convent of Paolo Trinci. Saint Louis features also in one of two lateral wings of a lost altarpiece by the Master of the Terni Dormition perhaps also intended for the same patron.4
1 John G. Johnson Collection, cat. 123; tempera and tooled gold on panel, 58.5 x 50.8 cm. In the Johnson collection by 1913, though there is no record of Johnson’s purchase of it.
2 Fototeca Zeri, nos 17583 and 17582; the latter: Pinacoteca Capitolina, no. 353; tempera and tooled gold on panel, 67 x 32 cm.
3 Strehlke 2004, p. 478.
4 Todini 1989, p. 236, vol. II, fig. 519.
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