Saint Anthony Abbot, Saint Andrew, the Mourning Virgin, the Man of Sorrows, the Mourning Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Raphael Archangel, and Saint Lawrence

Predella from an altarpiece once in San Paolo, Collegarli (Pisa)

Taddeo di Bartolo, Italian (active Siena and environs, Perugia, Pisa, and Genoa), first documented 1383, died 1422

Geography:
Made in Italy, Europe

Date:
1389

Medium:
Tempera, tooled gold, and colored glass on panel with horizontal grain

Dimensions:
9 1/16 x 82 5/8 inches (23 x 209.9 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 210, European Art 1100-1500, second floor

Accession Number:
Cat. 95

Credit Line:
John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

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Label:
This panel was a predella, or base of an altarpiece. The figures are centered in medallions surrounded by relief decoration known in Italian as pastiglia. To create the designs, artists worked wet plaster (called gesso) into raised patterns and allowed it to harden, then applied gold leaf. Beads of colored glass were embedded in the gesso to enhance the surface's glittering effect.

Additional information:
  • PublicationItalian Paintings 1250-1450

    The three central medallions form an image of the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist mourning Christ, who stands in the center as the Man of Sorrows, nude and with his arms crossed at the wrists. The wounds of his hands and side are visible, and he wears the crown of thorns. To the left the Virgin gestures toward him in a manner that recalls medieval Roman icons of the Virgin Advocata, such as the renowned sixth- or seventh-century image in the Franciscan basilica of Santa Maria Aracoeli.1 To the right John buries his face in his robe. The other saints are identifiable by their attributes. On the left are Anthony Abbot, holding a book and a tau-shaped walking stick, and the apostle Andrew, carrying the cross of his martyrdom. On the right are the archangel Raphael, holding a sword and a fish-the latter an allusion to the Old Testament story of Raphael and Tobias-and Saint Lawrence, dressed as a deacon and carrying a book, the grill of his martyrdom, and a martyr's palm.

    The origins of the predella with the Man of Sorrows in the center can be traced to its use in Simone Martini's altarpiece of 1320 for the Dominican church of Santa Caterina in Pisa.2 Joanna Cannon (1982, p. 73) has suggested that Martini's choice of subject was influenced by the Dominican order's promotion of the feast of Corpus Domini, established in 1264 (see Taddeo di Bartolo, Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection cat. 101), which celebrated the actual presence of Christ's body in the eucharistic host. The growing popularity of this feast explains the diffusion of the representation of the Man of Sorrows, with its emphasis on Christ's corporeal sacrifice, in fourteenth-century Italian art. With Martini's work as the inspiration, the predella consisting of medallions also became common in Sienese art (see Princeton University, The Art Museum, Bequest of Dan Fellows Platt, no. Y1962-57),3 and Taddeo di Bartolo employed the formula on a number of occasions.4

    Bernhard Berenson (1913) thought the predella was an early work by Bartolo di Fredi and close to the style of Lippo Memmi. He later (1932), however, changed his attribution to Barna da Siena. Federico Zeri, in a letter to Barbara Sweeny dated Rome, December 20, 1958, was the first to recognize that the predella belonged to Taddeo di Bartolo's early work. The delicately painted saints in the artist's predella in Denver,5 which is part of the altarpiece dated 1395 in Grenoble,6 provide a close comparison and prove that the Johnson Collection's painting must indeed fall relatively early in the artist's career.

    In 1985 I (Strehlke 1985a, p. 6) associated the Johnson predella with Taddeo di Bartolo's altarpiece (present location unknown) once in the oratory of San Paolo in the parish church of Santi Vito e Modesto in Collegarli in the Val d'Evola, which was part of the diocese of San Miniato al Tedesco. Although subjected to the rule of Florence since 1370, the town is not far from Pisa, where Taddeo was active early in his career. The altarpiece is dated 1389 and signed with a rhymed inscription that recalls Duccio's signature on the Maestà (see James Stubblebine's reconstruction of the front of Duccio's Maestà [from Stubblebine 1979]). Solberg (1991) has further proposed that two panels showing the Annunciate Angel (see Bergen, Norway, Billedgalleri, no. 2.) and the Virgin Annunciate (see Bergen, Norway, Billedgalleri, no. 2) were pinnacles of the same altarpiece. Two early descriptions of the altarpiece in situ do not mention the predella, but both accounts are summary.7 The altarpiece and predella were probably separated when the main section entered Cardinal Joseph Fesch's collection before 1845.

    Taddeo's inscription on the altarpiece mentions one Andrea Bindachi as the rector of the oratory.8 The fact that his patron saint, the apostle Andrew, appears in the predella rather than the main panel suggests that Bindachi was not the patron but only the person who arranged the commission.9 Carl Brandon Strehlke, from Italian paintings, 1250-1450, in the John G. Johnson Collection and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2004, pp. 404-407.

    Notes:

    1. Gertrud Schiller. Ikonographie der christlichen Kunst. vol. 42. Gütersloh, Germany, 1980, fig. 448.
    2. Pisa, Museo Nazionale di San Matteo; Andrew Martindale. Simone Martini: Complete Edition. Oxford, 1988, plates 49-52. There the Man of Sorrows is combined with the Virgin Advocata. The apostle Luke is on the other side.
    3. There are examples by Naddo Ceccarelli at Princeton University, The Art Museum and by the Master of Panzano in the Museo Horne in Florence (no. 37; Filippo Rossi, ed. Il Museo Horne a Firenze. Gallerie e musei minori di Firenze. Florence, 1966, plates 35-39 [as Sienese School]). The former is the predella to an altarpiece in Siena, Pinacoteca Nazionale (no. 115; Piero Torriti. La Pinacoteca Nazionale di Siena: i dipinti dal XII al XV secolo. Genoa, 1977, fig. 146 [color]), from Santa Maria della Scala in Siena.
    4. The predella in the Denver Art Museum (no. E-24; Sibilla Symeonides. Taddeo di Bartolo. Preface by Enzo Carli. Accademia Senese degli Intronati, Monografie d'arte senese, 7. Siena, 1965, plate xb [as in New York, Mr. and Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Collection]) consists of an arcade of three-quarter-length saints; and his altarpiece of 1401 in the cathedral of Montepulciano (Symeonides 1965, plates xx-xxxxii) has narrative scenes in medallions. The Man of Sorrows is the main subject of the altarpiece depicted in Taddeo's Saint Francis's Christmas Mass at Greccio, of 1403 (Hanover, Niedersächsishes Landesmuseum, Landesgalerie, no. 379; Symeonides 1965, plate xliid). Its predella consists of figures in round medallions.
    5. See n. 4 above.
    6. Musée de Grenoble, state deposit 1876; Symeonides 1965, plate x.
    7. Cited by Gail E. Solberg. "Taddeo di Bartolo: His Life and Work." Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1991, pp. 1186-87, they are Michele Carlo Cortigiani's account of a pastoral visit made in Collegarli on December 1, 1683 (San Miniato al Tedesco, Archivio Arcivescovile, Visita pastorale, c. 274); and Domenico Maria Manni in Filippo Baldinucci. Notizie de'professori del disegno da Cimabue in qua. Edited by Domenico Maria Manni. vol. 2. Florence, 1768, p. 231 n. 1.
    8. He was from a Pisan family. Solberg (1991, pp. 1189-90) has shown that his family had some connection with the family of one of Taddeo di Bartolo's later Pisan patrons, the Sardi da Campiglia.
    9. A comparison can be made with an inscription on Cenni di Francesco's (q.v.) 1370 altarpiece (Miklós Boskovits. Pittura fiorentina alla vigilia del rinascimento, 1370-1400. Florence, 1975, plate 86) in San Cristoforo a Perticaia (Rignano sull'Arno), near Florence. It identifies the church and society of the Virgin Mary and Saint Christopher as the patrons of the altarpiece, which was made during the time of the rector Peter. As in Taddeo's work, the rector's name saint, Peter, is absent from the surviving main sections of the altarpiece.

    Bibliography:

    Frank J. Mather, Jr., and Roger E. Fry. "Recent Additions to the Collection of Mr. John G. Johnson, Philadelphia." The Burlington Magazine (London), vol. 9, no. 41 (August 1906), p. 352 (Bartolo di Fredi);
    Bernhard Berenson. The Central Italian Painters of the Renaissance. 2nd ed., rev. and enlarged. New York, 1909, p. 141 (Bartolo di Fredi);
    William Rankin. "The Collection of Mr. John G. Johnson: The Early Italian Pictures." The International Studio (New York), vol. 37, no. 147 (May 1909), p. lxxx (Bartolo di Fredi);
    Bernhard Berenson. Catalogue of a Collection of Paintings and Some Art Objects. Vol. 1, Italian Paintings. Philadelphia, 1913, p. 54, repro. p. 292 (Bartolo di Fredi);
    Alice van Vechten Brown and William Rankin. A Short History of Italian Painting. New York, 1914, p. 342;
    Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: A List of the Principal Artists and Their Works with an Index of Places. Oxford, 1932, p. 41;
    Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento: catalogo dei principali artisti e delle loro opere con un indice dei luoghi. Translated from the English by Emilio Cecchi. Collezione "Valori plastici." Milan, 1936, p. 35;
    John G. Johnson Collection: Catalogue of Paintings. Foreword by Henri Marceau. Philadelphia, 1941, p. 2;
    [Barbara Sweeny]. John G. Johnson Collection: Catalogue of Italian Paintings. Foreword by Henri Marceau. Philadelphia, 1966, pp. 6-7, repro. p. 92 (Barna da Siena);
    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. 26;
    James H. Stubblebine. "Segna di Buonaventura and the Image of the Man of Sorrows." Gesta (New York), vol. 8, no. 2, (1969), p. 8, fig. 10;
    Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, 1972, p. 194;
    Arno Preiser. Das Entstehen und die Entwicklung der Predella in der italienischen Malerei. Studien zur Kunstgeschichte, 2. Hildesheim, 1973, pp. 212, 380, fig. 200;
    James H. Stubblebine. Duccio di Buoninsegna and His School. 2 vols. Princeton, 1979;
    Joanna Cannon. "Simone Martini, the Dominicans, and the Early Sienese Polyptych." Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes (London), vol. 45 (1982), p. 73;
    Carl Brandon Strehlke. "Sienese Paintings in the Johnson Collection." Paragone-arte (Florence), vol. 36, no. 427 (September 1985), pp. 5-6, figs. 3a-c;
    Gail E. Solberg. "Taddeo di Bartolo: His Life and Work." Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1991, pp. 695-98, fig. 7;
    Philadelphia Museum of Art. Paintings from Europe and the Americas in the Philadelphia Museum of Art: A Concise Catalogue. Philadelphia, 1994, repro. p. 232

    Companion panels for Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection cat. 95:
    A. Altarpiece: Virgin and Child with Saints Sebastian, Paul, John the Baptist, and Nicholas of Bari. Present location unknown.
    B. Pinnacle panel of an altarpiece: Annunciate Angel. Bergen, Norway, Billedgalleri, no. 2.
    C. Pinnacle panel of an altarpiece: Virgin Annunciate. Bergen, Norway, Billedgalleri, no. 2.


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