Coronation of the Virgin

Center panel of an altarpiece, cut down at the top; companion panels are in the Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome (353), and the Kisters collection, Kreuzlingen, Switzerland

Master of the Terni Dormition, Italian (active Umbria), active c. 1380 - 1412

Geography:
Made in Umbria, Italy, Europe

Date:
c. 1415

Medium:
Tempera and tooled gold on panel with vertical grain

Dimensions:
23 1/16 x 19 1/4 inches (58.6 x 48.9 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 211, European Art 1100-1500, second floor

Accession Number:
Cat. 123

Credit Line:
John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

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Additional information:
  • PublicationItalian Paintings 1250-1450

    Seated on a bench throne covered by a cloth of honor, Christ crowns the Virgin while angels look on. The panel would originally have had a gabled top and presumably more angels. The figures of three angels playing musical instruments have been partially cut off.

    Federico Zeri (1963) recognized that the picture was the center section of a triptych whose side panels showed the full-length enthroned figures of Saint Bartholomew (see Rome, Pinacoteca Capitolina, no. 353) and Saint Louis of Toulouse (see private collection). He made the triptych an important component of his analysis of the Master of the Terni Dormition. But his attribution has not been universally accepted: Francesco Rossi (1977), Bruno Toscano (in Pazzelli and Sensi 1984), and Corrado Fratini (in Pittura 1986) did not include it in the master's oeuvre. Their arguments are, however, unconvincing.

    The prototype for the Coronation of the Virgin was Ugolino di Prete Ilario's mural in the tribune of the cathedral of Orvieto.1 This dependency seems to confirm Zeri's initial theory that the Master of the Terni Dormition assisted Ugolino di Prete Ilario there.

    There is no evidence about the triptych's early provenance. The presence of Saint Louis of Toulouse in the painting suggests that it may have come from a Franciscan church. Toscano (in Pazzelli and Sensi 1984, p. 328) noted that the inclusion of the apostle Bartholomew might identify its original location as the Franciscan Observant church of San Bartolomeo a Marano, outside Foligno. In 1390 Marano, a fortress belonging to the ruling family of Foligno, was given by Ugolino II Trinci to his cousin Paolo Trinci, known as Paoluccio, to make into a Franciscan Observant convent.2

    Paoluccio had long been a leader in a Franciscan reform movement dedicated to following Saint Francis's rule to live "simply and without gloss." Whether strict adherence to this principle was possible was then a topic of much debate, as the rule imposed absolute poverty, a prospect that the official church found threatening and sometimes heretical. However, Paoluccio's wish to become an Observant Franciscan was granted at a chapter of the Franciscans held in Foligno in 1368, when the general of the order, Tommaso da Frignano, saw fit to concede him the Franciscan convent of San Bartolomeo a Brogliano at the Castello di Colfiorito.3 And Paoluccio did not stop there: by 1370 he had eleven Observant convents in Umbria and the Marches, and by 1390 they numbered twenty-three.

    The Marano convent was rebuilt by Giovanni da Stroncone after Paoluccio's death in 1391 and dedicated in 1415. Such a date would fit stylistically with the Johnson painting, which also has parallels with the Master of the Terni Dormition's dated mural of 1412 in the ex-convent of San Niccolò in Spoleto.4 That the convent at Marano was richly decorated seems to be confirmed by a comment made in 1467 by the Blessed Giovanni Bonvisi da Lucca, who called it the most beautiful and richest of the province.5

    The presence of Saint Louis of Toulouse in the triptych specifically supports its Franciscan Observant and Trinci connections.6 In 1340 Saint Louis's brother, Robert of Anjou, king of Naples, appointed Bishop Paolo Trinci, an uncle of Paoluccio, to be his ambassador to Pope Benedict XII Fournier. His assignment was to persuade the pope to grant Robert's brother-in-law Fra Felipe of Majorca the right to live according to the primitive Franciscan rule.7 The mission, which failed, was a delicate one, as the papacy had sought to suppress Franciscans who wished to adhere strictly to Francis's own ideal of poverty. Later the Trinci themselves became supporters of the church-approved Observant movement. Carl Brandon Strehlke, from Italian paintings, 1250-1450, in the John G. Johnson Collection and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2004, pp. 315-318.

    Notes:

    1. Florence, Kunsthistorisches Institut, Fototeca, no. 452283 (pre-restoration).
    2. On this convent, see Ludovico Iacobilli. Vite de' santi e beati dell'Umbria. vol. 1. Foligno, 1647, Reprint, Bologna, 1971, pp. 474, 541; Giuseppe Bragazzi. Compendio della storia di Foligno. Foligno, 1858, p. 89; Michele Faloci Pulignani. Guida illustrata di Foligno e dintorni. Foligno, 1909, p. 99; Michele Faloci Pulignani. "Il beato Paoluccio Trinci e i minori osservanti, studio." Miscellanea francescana (Assisi), vol. 21 (1920), p. 78; and Angelo Messini. Foligno, Bevagna, Montefalco, Spello, Trevi. Revised and updated by Giovanni Cecchini. Guide Moneta. Milan, n.d. [1960s], p. 79.
    3. On Paoluccio, see Mario Sensi in Istituto Giovanni XXIII della Pontifica Università Lateranese. Bibliotheca sanctorum. vol. 12. Rome, 1969, cols. 660-63 (with bibliography); and in particular, Faloci Pulignani 1920; and Ludovico Iacobilli. Vita del beato Paolo detto Paoluccio de' Trinci da Foligno. Foligno, 1627. On Brogliano, see Nicola Cavanna. L'Umbria francescana illustrata. Perugia, 1910, pp. 352-55. The convent was largely destroyed in 1707.
    4. Filippo Todini. La pittura umbra dal duecento al primo cinquecento. 2 vols. "I marmi," 151. Milan, 1989, figs. 532-533.
    5. Iacobilli 1647-61, vol. 1, 1647, p. 474.
    6. The presence of Saint Louis of Toulouse in the lateral wing of another lost altarpiece by the Master of the Terni Dormition suggests that it was also for a convent of Paolo Trinci (Todini 1989, figs. 519-20). The center is lost or unidentified.
    7. Faloci Pulignani 1920, p. 67.

    Bibliography:

    Bernhard Berenson. Catalogue of a Collection of Paintings and Some Art Objects. Vol. 1, Italian Paintings. Philadelphia, 1913, p. 71, repro. p. 310 (Ottaviano Nelli);
    Helen Comstock. "Umbrian Paintings in American Collections." International Studio. (New York), vol. 86, no. 356 (January 1927), p. 30;
    Raimond van Marle. The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. vol. 8. The Hague, 1927, p. 345 and n. 1;
    Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: A List of the Principal Artists and Their Works with an Index of Places. Oxford, 1932, p. 385;
    John G. Johnson Collection: Catalogue of Paintings. Foreword by Henri Marceau. Philadelphia, 1941, p. 11 (Ottaviano Nelli);
    Federico Zeri. "Tre argomenti umbri." Bollettino d'arte (Rome), 4th ser., vol. 48, nos. 1-2 (January-June 1963), pp. 33-34, fig. 1b (Federico Zeri. Giorno per giorno nella pittura: scritti sull'arte dell'Italia centrale e meridionale dal trecento al primo cinquecento. Archivi di arte antica. Turin, 1992, pp. 46-47, fig. 43);
    [Barbara Sweeny]. John G. Johnson Collection: Catalogue of Italian Paintings. Foreword by Henri Marceau. Philadelphia, 1966, p. 52, repro. p. 99;
    Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: A List of the Principal Artists and Their Works with an Index of Places. Central Italian and North Italian Schools. 3 vols. Rev. and enlarged ed. London, 1968, p. 290;
    Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, 1972, p. 137;
    Pietro Scarpellini. Giovanni di Corraduccio. Studi umbri, 1. Foligno, 1976, p. 24, fig. 7;
    Francesco Rossi. "Lo 'stile feltresco': arte tra Gubbio e Urbino nella prima metà del '400." In Rapporti artistici tra le Marche e l'Umbria. Convegno interregionale di studio, Fabriano-Gubbio, 8-9 Giugno 1974 (pp. 55-68). Deputazione di storia patria per l'Umbria: Appendici al Bollettino, 13. Perugia, 1977, pp. 58-59, esp. n. 19;
    Bruno Toscano in Raffaele Pazzelli and Mario Sensi, eds. La beata Angelina da Montegiove e il movimento del terz'ordine regolare francescano femminile. Atti del convegno di studi francescani, Foligno, September 22-24, 1983. Analecta Tertii Ordinis Regularis Sancti Francisci. Rome, 1984;
    Corrado Fratini in La pittura in Italia: il duecento e il trecento. Edited by Enrico Castelnuovo. 2 vols. Rev. and enlarged ed. Milan, 1986, pp. 606-7;
    Filippo Todini. La pittura umbra dal duecento al primo cinquecento. 2 vols. "I marmi," 151. Milan, 1989, vol. 1, p. 130; vol. 2, fig. 527;
    Philadelphia Museum of Art. Paintings from Europe and the Americas in the Philadelphia Museum of Art: A Concise Catalogue. Philadelphia, 1994, repro. p. 218;
    Mojmír Frinta. Punched Decoration on Late Medieval Panel and Miniature Painting. Pt. 1, Catalogue Raisonné of All Punch Shapes. Prague, 1998, p. 115

    Companion Panels for Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection cat. 123
    A. Lateral panel of an altarpiece: Saint Bartholomew. Rome, Pinacoteca Capitolina, no. 353
    B. Lateral panel of an altarpiece: Saint Louis of Toulouse. Private collection.


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