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if the Early Renaissance 

lijiijH Panel Painting of the 
Early Renaissance ,• ' ** 


In Italy during the early Renaissance, before the adoption 
of canvas as a painting surface, nearly all paintings, with 
the exception of frescoes, were executed on wood panels. 
This volume, combining art history and conservation 
work, presents eighteen panel paintings created in the 
most important cities of the early Italian Renaissance — 
Florence, Siena, and Venice — and now in the permanent 
collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 

Panel paintings, like most other forms ot art in 
medieval and Renaissance Italy, were commissioned by 
patrons, not so much out of a love for art or a concern 
with aesthetics as for an act of piety or civic duty, an 
expiation for sin, or a guarantee ot present glory and a 
measure of immortality. The patron, from the state itself 
to one of its humbler citizens, determined almost every 
detail ot the work. Group and tamily patronage was 
directed largely toward the decoration of spaces tor reli- 
gious use; it was patronage by individuals that led to the 
proliferation of secular imagery. The rediscovery of and 
renewed interest in the literature and history of ancient 
Greece and Rome provided many themes appropriate 
for the decoration of domestic or civic spaces. 

In preparing this volume Susan L. Caroselli, for- 
merly associate curator in the museum's department of 
European Painting and Sculpture and currently visiting 
assistant professor of Religion and the Arts at Yale 
Divinity School, enlisted the help of Joseph Fronek, 
senior paintings conservator, and other members of the 
museum's Conservation Center. Historical and technical 
introductions provide a context for a detailed study of 
two altarpieces in the collection, I'lrgin and Child 
Enthroned with Saints Nicholas and Paul, by Luca di 
Tomme, and Christ on the Cross with Saints Vincent Ferrer, 
John the Baptist, Mark, and Antoninus, attributed to the 
Master of the Fiesole Epiphany, encompassing the art of 
fourteenth-century Siena and fifteenth-century Florence 
as well as representing gifts of two of the museum's 
most generous donors, the Ahmanson Foundation and 
the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. This is followed 
by a catalogue of the early Renaissance panels in the 
museum's collection. 

84 illustrations, 42 in color 

Italian Panel Painting of the Early Renaissance 

LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF KWY in association with the University of Washington Press 

Italian Panel Painting 

of the Early Renaissance 


Susan L. Caroselli 

with contributions by Joseph Fronek 
and members of the Conservation Center 

This book was published in 
conjunction with an exhibition 
organized by the Los Angeles 
County Museum of Art and 
held there December 22, 1994- 
March 12, 1995. 

Distributed by the 
University of Washington Press, 
P.O. Box 50096, Seattle, 
Washington 98145-5096 

Support for the exhibition was 
generously provided by the 
Ahmanson Foundation, the 
Samuel H. Kress Foundation, 
Mrs. Rosa Liebman, the Getty 
Grant Program, the National 
Endowment for the Arts, and the 
Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial 
Support Endowment Fund. 
Transportation for the exhibition 
was provided by Alitalia 

Library of Congress Catalog 
Card Number: 94-79755 
ISBN: 0-295-97454-6 

©1994 by Museum Associates, 
Los Angeles County Museum of 
Art. All rights reserved. No part 
of the contents of this book may 
be reproduced without written 
permission ot the publisher. 

Chris Keledjian 


Pamela Patrusky 


Peter Brenner, Barbara Lyter, 
Jay McNally, Steve Oliver 


Typeset in Monotype Foumier 
and Adobe Univers with 
Monotype Van Dijck display 
type. Printed by Hull Printing 
Company, Incorporated, 
Meriden, Connecticut. 

FRONT cover: 

Detail of Luca di Tomme, 

Virgin and Child Enthroned 

with Saints Nicholas and Paul, 

c. 1367/70. 



Bartolo di Fredi, The Angel of 
the Annuciation, c. 1583/88. 


Neri di Bicci, Virgin and Child 
Enthroned with Saints and the 
Annuciation, c. 1440/50. 
CAT NO 13 

Photographs in this volume 
were reproduced courtesy ot the 
owners of the works. For the 
following figures additional 
acknowledgment is due: 
FIGURES 3-4, 8 courtesy 
of the Trustees, the National 
Gallery, London; figures 34, 
38, 49 courtesy of Aiinari/Art 
Resource, New York. 


A slash between two dates- for 
example 1383/88-indicates that 
something happened (an artist 
was bom or died, an artist's 
activity began or ceased, a work 
was produced) at an indeter- 
minable time between the first 
and second date. 

Dimensions are given in both 
centimeters and inches. Height 
precedes width. 

In the Catalogue section 
(pp. 87-123), entries are 
arranged alphabetically by artist. 
Conservation Notes were written 
by Joseph Fronek, Virginia 
Rasmussen, and Shelley Svoboda. 

Exhibitions and bibliographical 
references are indicated in the 
text bv a short form consisting of 
the cit}- and date of the exhibi- 
tion in the former case and the 
author's name and date ot publi- 
cation in the latter. Complete 
citations can be found in the 
Bibliography (pp. 124-31). 


6 Foreword 

7 Acknowledgments 

9 Introduction to Italian Panel Painting of the Early Renaissance 

10 Historical Introduction susan l caroselli 
32 Technical Introduction JOSEPH fronek 

45 Two Altarpieces of the Early Renaissance 

48 Luca di Tomme Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints Nicholas and Paul 
56 Conservation Report JOSEPH fronek 

62 Master of the Fiesole Epiphany Christ on the Cross with 

Saints Vincent Ferrer, John the Baptist, Mark, and Antoninus 

76 Conservation Report JOSEPH fronek 
83 Scientific Report JOHN TWILL EY 

87 Catalogue of Italian Panel Paintings of the Early Renaissance in the Collection 

124 Bibliography 
132 Index 


The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in Italy saw enormous activity in what we now call 
the fine arts. We have come to identify this period as the early Renaissance — "rebirth" — 
because, although we now acknowledge the important continuity of much that came from 
the Middle Ages, there was to be sure a shift in attitude that affected much of the culture. 
While still placing God at the center of the universe, humankind grew in self-esteem, seeing 
in itself the image of its Creator, with a will to act and a self-imposed obligation to adhere to 
moral standards. Human accomplishments, particularly those of ancient Greece and Rome, 
were rediscovered and prized. The height of a man became the module for exquisitely pro- 
portioned buildings; saints were transformed from icons to men and women whose sanctified 
lives could be emulated; ancient gods and goddesses and long-dead heroes and heroines of 
antiquity were given form and made to serve the causes of both edification and delight. 

Italian Panel Painting of the Early Renaissance combines the work of curator and con- 
servator, making use of Renaissance documentation and modern technical achievements in 
conservation to study and present the panels from the period 1300- 1500 in the museum's 
collection. In preparing this volume Susan L. Caroselli, formerly associate curator in the 
department of European Painting and Sculpture and currently visiting assistant professor 
of Religion and the Arts at Yale Divinity School, enlisted the help of Joseph Fronek, senior 
paintings conservator, and many members of the museum's Conservation Center. 
Historical and technical introductions provide a context for a detailed study of two altar- 
pieces in the collection, encompassing the art of fourteenth-century Siena and fifteenth- 
century Florence as well as representing the gifts of two of our most generous donors, the 
Ahmanson Foundation and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. This is followed by a cata- 
logue of the early Renaissance panels in the museum's collection, in subject both sacred and 
secular, from many of the important centers of Renaissance art. I wish to thank the authors 
for their careful and insightful work and to add my thanks to our supporters, donors, and 
the other individuals mentioned in the acknowledgments for helping to shed a brighter light 
on these valuable images from another age. 


Coordinator of Curatorial Affairs 
Los Angeles County Museum ot Art 


We wish first to thank the organizations and individuals whose generosity made possible the 
various aspects of this project: the considerable work of conservation of the panel paintings 
was supported by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Mrs. Rosa Liebman, and the Getty Grant 
Program; the Ahmanson Foundation funded the making of a documentary film on tlie conserva- 
tion work; Alitalia and the National Endowment for the Arts contributed to the organizational 
costs of the exhibition; and the Kress Foundation subsidized the production of this volume. 

Much of the research on the panel paintings acquired by the Los Angeles County 
Museum of Art before 1970 was carried out by Burton Fredericksen, at that time a member 
of the museum's curatorial staff and now the director of the Provenance Index ot the 
J. Paul Getty Art History Information Program. His thorough and insightful work and his 
graciousness in allowing his considerable findings to be available to all scholars and stu- 
dents interested in the museum's collection are greatly appreciated. 

We are thankful to museum curators and collectors who allowed us access to works of 
art under their care: Luisa Morozzi, Palazzo Venezia, Rome; Lino Pasquali, Florence; 
Nicholas Penny, National Gallery, London; Jane Munro, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; 
Renata Hedjuk, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; Gretchen Hirshauer, National 
Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Sona Johnston, Baltimore Museum of Art; Joaneath 
Spicer, Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore; and especially Carl Brandon Strehlke, Philadelphia 
Museum of Art. A number of scholars and conservators in Florence were of immense help: 
Oriana Sartiani and Anna Maria Massinelli provided valuable advice and arranged visits to 
sites in Tuscany; Lisa Venturini, Nicoletta Pons, and Jonathan Nelson were particularly 
generous with their time, information, and advice. 

At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Philip Conisbee and J. Patrice Marandel, 
successive curators of the department of European Painting and Sculpture, encouraged us 
in our work on this project, and associate curator Mary L. Levkoff proved once again a 
most supportive and resourceful colleague. Susan Wiggins, departmental secretary, was of 
great assistance, especially in the acquisition of photographic images. Jennifer Wood, a 
graduate student in the Museum Studies Program at the University of Southern California, 
was a valued ally as research assistant for the project; she updated the information provided 
by Burton Fredericksen, assiduously researched the provenance, literature, and exhibition 
history of works of art acquired after 1970, and checked details of bibliography. 

Tom Jacobson, head, grants and foundation giving, and Talbot A. Welles, former grants 
coordinator, of the Development Office were responsible for successful grant applications 
and other sources of funding; Mark Mitchell, budget manager, of the Business Office han- 
dled financial matters; John Passi, head. Exhibition Programs, attended to the many details 
of exhibition arrangements and scheduling; and Tamra Yost, associate registrar, was 
responsible for the details of the loan of a panel by Marco Zoppo. 

Warmest thanks go to the conservators and conservation scientists at the Los Angeles 
County Museum of Art who devoted several years of their considerable skill and expertise 
to the examination, cleaning, and restoration of the Italian panel paintings in the museum's 
collection and greatly contributed to the content of this book by sharing their findings: 
senior conservation chemist John Twilley, who provided answers to our many technical 
questions; associate conservator Virginia Rasmussen and assistant conservator Shelley 
Svoboda, who both worked tirelessly on many of the panels and helped with attributions; 
conservation technician Neil Rhodes, for his work on frames; and visiting conservators 
Oriana Sartiani and Barbara Schleicher from Florence, whose participation was made possi- 
ble by grants from the J. Paul Getty Trust and Rosa Liebman. Ms. Liebman also provided 
funds for the restoration of the panel support of the cassone by Rosselli; Andrea Rothe and 
Mark Leonard, of the Getty Museum, arranged for treatment of the panel suppon at the 
Getty and also identified specialists in Italy; the Getty generously allowed Giovanni 
Marussich from Florence to work on the Roselli panel while he was a consultant at the 
Getty; and the Kress Foundation provided funds allowing consultation with specialists 
Mario Modestini and Dianne Dwyer of New York City. 

We are very grateful to Bernard Kester, whose elegant design for the gallery provided 
a new environment for the panel paintings. We wish also to thank Art Owens and the 
Technical Services staff for their careful installation of the works. 

Chris Keledjian was an able and gracious editor, and Pamela Patrusky provided 
the beautiful design for the book and the installation graphics. Marcia Tucker created the 
book's index. Peter Brenner, supervising photographer, and his staff are responsible tor 
the excellent images of the museum's panel paintings. 

Finally, we wish to thank a group of individuals who provided extraordinary assistance, 
hospitality, and support during this project: Patrick Anderson, Los Angeles and Rome; 
Pierre Riandet, Berlin; Debbie and Chris Winchell, Los Angeles; Brigitte and Wolfgang 
Wolters, Berlin; and Ruby and Joseph Caroselli, Boston. 


Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion and the Arts 

Yale Institute of Sacred Music, Worship and the Arts/ Yale Divinity School 


Senior Paintings Conservator 

Los Angeles County Museum of Art 

Introduction to 

Italian Panel Painting of 

the Early Renaissance 

Historical Introduction 



Attributed to the Isidora Master 

(Romano-Egyptian, second 

century a.d.), Mummy Portrait 

of a lVoman,c. 100—125, tempera 

on panel, ]. Paul Getty Museum, 


Early History The artists of antiquity painted on wood panels, but there is little left to tell 
us of these early works. Not one panel survives from ancient Greece, nothing of the work of 
the legendary masters from Cimon of Cleonae in the sixth century B.C., through Polygnotus, 
Micon, and Apollodoros, to Nicias and the incomparable Appelles two centuries later. 
Of their panel-painting technique we know almost nothing, although we may gather infor- 
mation about stylistic development from vase painting of the same period 
and, later, from wall paintings and mosaics. Almost all the painted remains 
of the Etruscan and Roman civilizations are ceramics or mural decorations 
of tombs or villas. The richest cache of painted panels comes from Roman- 
controlled Egypt in the first through the fourth centuries a.d., when exquisite 
portraits of the deceased were painted on thin boards and bound into their 
mummies (fig. i). 

In the early Christian, Byzantine, and medieval periods wood panels 
were rarely used as supports. Large-scale paintings were executed on 
walls or transformed into mosaics; small-scale works were painted on skin, 
vellum, parchment, or, later, paper, most usually bound into manuscripts. 
The exceptions were portable icons, devotional images for personal use 
painted on wood in workshops in Byzantine monasteries and palaces during 
the sixth and seventh centuries and again, after the banning of religious 
imagery in the Iconoclastic period, from the ninth century onward. 

The earliest painted panels in western Europe after antiquit\' were 
either small religious images and scenes that served as a focus for devotions 
(fig. 2) — a western version, in a sense, of the Byzantine icon — or less 
expensive substitutes for liturgical objects or church furniture normally executed in pre- 
cious materials too costly for a patron's purse. The technical advantages to painting on 
panels, however, must have soon made them more attractive to a wide range ot patrons and 
artists. The panels could replicate the brilliant palette of colors and minute detail ot illumi- 
nated manuscripts; they were more durable than individual illuminated sheets and more 
physically accessible than the images in a bound manuscript. The available range of colors 
and the potential for stylistic subtlety in panel painting gave it an advantage o\er techniques 
of metalwork, enameling, and fresco painting. Indeed, in contrast to tresco artists, panel 



Paolo Veneziano (Venice, 
acrive c. 1335— before 1362), 
Saint John the Baptist (fragment), 
c. 1355/60, tempera on panel, 
Los Angeles County Museum 
of Art, gift of Robert Lehman 

CAT. NO. 14 

painters could work at their own pace, unaffected by the rate of drying plaster, and could 
make changes without the necessity of chipping off a wall surface and beginning again. 
Once craftsmen began to join wood panels together to form large surfaces, panel painting 
gradually became the chosen technique for nearly all but major campaigns of architectural 
decoration, which continued to be executed in fresco. 

Until the thirteenth century a priest stood behind the altar to celebrate mass, facing 
the congregation. The altar was decorated where it was the most visible, that is, the front 
lower panel, the antependium or frontal. This might be of carved stone or carved or 
painted wood, or, if a church was wealthy, such as Sant'Ambrogio in Milan or San Marco 
in Venice, of gold or silver set with jewels. When the doctrine ot transubstantiation was 
formally promulgated by the fourth Lateran Council in Rome in 121 5, the "mystery" of 



Master of Saint Giles (France, 
active 1490— 1510), The Mass of 
Saint Giles, c. 1500, oil on panel, 
the National Gallery, London. 

the transformation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ was heightened by 
the priest turning his back to obscure the elements of the Eucharist and to conceal his words 
and gestures (fig. 3). Since antependia were no longer visible during much ot the mass, and 
since they often hindered the priests from approaching tlie table as closely as was necessary, 
some of them were removed, many to be replaced by altar cloths. It was not unusual during 
this transitional period for frontals to be reused as altarpieces, placed on or behind the 
altar to give a focus for the liturgy. (A few extant frontals recycled in this way, such as the 



Margarito da Arezzo (Tuscany, 
active second and third quarters 
of the thirteenth century), 
The Virgin and Child Enthroned, 
with Scenes of the Nativity and 
the Lives of Saints, 1 260s, 
tempera on panel, the National 
Gallery, London. 

Majestas Domini of 121^ in the Pinacoteca Nazionale of Siena, display scuff marks and 
damage from the priests' toes.) 

The earliest painted altarpieces in Italy, being either reused antependia or influenced by 
them, were rectangular, wider than they were tall, although sometimes with a raised central 
section. An exception to this was an early image especially prevalent in Pisa and Lucca, the 
large crucifix suspended over the high altar or in the choir of a church, painted on a panel 
constructed in the shape of a cross. Both types of panels, however, featured a large central 


Guariento di Arpo (Venice, 

c. 1310—1370), The Coronation of 

the Virgin Altarpiece, 1344, 

tempera on panel, Norton Simon 

Art Foundation, Pasadena. 

- , '- -" iiife- 




Gherardo di Jacopo di Neri 
Stamina (probably Master of 
the Bambino Vispo; Florence, 
active 1378— 1409/13), y^^rj^op 
Saint and Saint Lawrence 
(predella panel), c. 1404/7, 
tempera on panel, Los Angeles 
County Museum of Art, gift of 
Dr. Ernest Tross (47.23). 
CAT. NO. 16 


Neri di Bicci (Florence, 
1419— 1492), Virgin and Child 
Enthroned with Saints and the 
Annunciation (triptych) with 
closed wings, c. 1440/50, 
tempera on panel, Los Angeles 
County Museum of Art, gift 
of Varya and Hans Cohn in 
honor of the museum's twenty- 
fifth anniversary (M.91.15). 
See fig. 17 for the open triptych. 
CAT. NO. I 3 

FIGURE 8 (facing page) 
Francesco di Stefano (called 
Pesellino; Florence, 1422- 1457), 
finished in the workshop of 
Filippo Lippi, The Trinity with 
Saints Mamas^ James the Greats 
Zeno, and Jerome^ 1455—60, 
tempera on panel, the National 
Gallery, London. 

figure with small narrative scenes arranged on the sides (fig. 4). Vertically oriented rectan- 
gular or gabled-top panels were the next development, but the simplicity of this format 
gradually gave way to a division of the panel by its frame. The frames, often of a piece with 
the panels themselves and usually gilded, became increasingly elaborate until they evolved 
into architectural fantasies of arches, spandrels, and pinnacles (figs. 5, 38). This kind of 
compartmentalization had been used to separate scenes on early Christian sarcophagi and 
medieval reliquary caskets, but it was even more ideally suited to the hierarchy of the 
individual figures and scenes that now developed in panel painting. A substantial base was 
needed to support these works; it was called a predella^ or altar step, and it too was divided 
by its structure and framing elements into fields that were often decorated with subsidiary 
figures and scenes (fig. 6), coats of arms, or inscriptions. It was not unusual for panels to be 

painted on both sides, especially large altar- 
pieces in monastic churches, where 
the monks sat in the choir behind the high 
altar, or small, freestanding diprv'chs or 
triptychs with hinged wings that could be 
closed and thus provided another surface 
for decoration (fig. 7). With the increase 
of the influence of classical Greek and 
Roman art, the preferred shape of altar- 
pieces of the later fifteenth century became 
once again simple rectangles, with frames 
equally simple in shape decorated with 
elegant and subtle motifs taken from 
ancient architecture. The lower horizontal 
element of the frame was often retained 
as a predella and decorated with related 
scenes or figures (fig. 8). 

1 rn.T rrT rriTiT r i. tti 

[ximii-H-i-UJjLiLUXO t m IT rx rcLi-i:ri.A.i,i 

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Niccolo di Pietro Gerini 
(Florence, active 1368— 1415/16), 
Virgin and Child with Saints John 
the Baptist, Dominic, Peter, and 
Paul, \yj^/%'!i, tempera on panel, 
Los Angeles County Museum 
of Art, gift of Alexander M. and 
Florence E. Bing (48.1). 
CAT. NO. 5 

FIGURE 10 (facing page) 
Dario di Giovanni (called Dario 
da Treviso; Veneto, c. 1420- 
before 1498), Saint Bernardino of 
Siena, c. 1470, tempera on panel, 
Los Angeles County Museum 
of Art, gift of Dr. Rudolph 
Heinemann (48.6). 
CAT. NO. 4 

Patronage Most panel paintings, like most other forms of 
art in medieval and Renaissance Italy, were executed on 
commission, especially altarpieces and other large works. 
Due to the status of artists as craftsmen — a status that was 
not to change for the majority of artists until well into the 
sixteenth century — the patron had control of almost every 
detail of the painting. The artist was frequently provided 
with a prepared panel, often with an integral frame already 
in place, into which he was expected to fit the requested 
composition (fig. 9). Most contracts detailed the patron's 
wishes as to the subject to be painted, the arrangement of 
the figures and other elements of the composition, the 
amount and quality (gauged by cost) of gold and expensive 
pigments that were to be used, the time period in which 
the work was to be executed, and the manner of payment; 
other written agreements referred to previous discussions 
or attached sketches that provided the same information. 
Patrons and their agents kept an eye on the progress of the 
painting, complaining if it was not done quickly enough 
and demanding changes if the results were not pleasing to 
them. In documents of the period it is the patron who 
receives the credit for the finished work; if the artist's name 
is mentioned at all, it is usually in order to give the patron 
praise for commissioning him. The patronage of art and 
architecture in the fifteenth century was seen not as the 
fulfillment of any aesthetically motivated desire but as an act of piety or civic duty, the 
expiation for sin (especially usury, which affected any citizen involved in banking or com- 
merce), or a guarantee of present glory and a measure of immortality. 

Patrons could be corporate or individual, from the state itself to one of its humblest 
citizens. Civic governments, fond of grandiose decorative schemes frescoed in the rooms 
of their municipal headquarters, did not often commission panel paintings, although they 
sometimes presented a church with an altarpiece or contributed to the costs of an expensive 
commission: Pietro Lorenzetti's Carmelite Madonna (Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena), painted 
in 1329 for the church of San Niccolo and subsidized by the Consiglio Generale ot Siena, 
is an example. The powerful and wealthy merchant and craft guilds ordered large panel 
paintings for the chapels or altars they had endowed in local churches, as did the lay confra- 
ternities that were the charitable arms of these same guilds or the support groups formed by 
the ecclesiastical or monastic authorities. The guilds and confraternities also commissioned 
works for their headquarters and meeting rooms. 

While the interior walls of churches were often decorated with frescoes commissioned 
either by the church authorities or devout donors, there were dozens of panel paintings 


executed for even the smallest of churches, from the high 
altar, usually paid for by the bishop or monastic order to 
whom the church belonged, to altarpieces in the sacristy 
and subsidiary chapels commissioned by the family or 
organization that endowed them. Endowed chapels were 
a source of income to the church, and when these spaces 
ran out, new donors were sometimes allowed (even encour- 
aged) to erect small altars against walls or even against the 
columns separating the nave from the side aisles, providing 
both a new source of funds for the church and a need for more 
altarpieces. Religious paintings were also required for altars 
set up in chapels and oratories in monasteries and hospitals, 
government and guild buildings, and private palaces. 

Secular Commissions Corporate and family patronage, 
directed largely toward the decoration of spaces for 
religious use, was almost never associated with secular 
subject matter. Even the paintings commissioned for civic 
buildings were usually directly or indirectly religious in 
theme: a city's patron saints (fig. io), allegories extolling 
the "Christian" virtues, or scenes of military victories 
achieved by the grace of God (and often attended by celestial 
participants or observers). It was patronage by individuals 
that led to the proliferation of secular imagery. 

Panel paintings were commissioned by private patrons 
of all degrees, princes of the state and of the church, the 
nobility and the patriciate, merchants and bankers, scholars 
and monastics, and men and women of quite humble means. 
While some of the commissioned works were religious in 
nature — particularly small panels and portable altarpieces 
for private devotions (fig. i i) — the rediscovery of and 
renewed interest in the literature and history of ancient 
Greece and Rome provided many themes appropriate for 
the decoration of domestic or secular civic spaces. There 
were morally edifying episodes to demonstrate the nobility 
of the human race, complicated allegories to challenge the 
mind, and scenes of grace and beauty to delight and stimu- 
late the senses and emotions. Twentieth-century 
scholarship has often succeeded in demonstrating that some 
of the most overtly "pagan" or frivolous of the secular 
works of the early Renaissance have an underlying religious 




Jacopo Bellini (Venice, c. 1400- 

1470/71), Virgin and Child, 

c. 1465, oil on panel, Los Angeles 

County Museum of Art, gift of 

the Ahmanson Foundation 


CAT. NO. 3 

or at least moral significance; it would thus 
be unwise to consider these paintings as 
a body of work unrelated to the contempo- 
rary production of religious art. In the 
same way, it is a mistake to think of the 
desire for the acquisition of secular art as 
an impulse at odds with personal piety. 
A new interest in observation of the natural 
world and a new regard for the place of 
humankind at the center of that world was 
certainly inspired by the learning and 
accomplishments of the ancients, but in 
appreciating creation the people of the 
Renaissance revered the creator and in 
themselves they saw the image of God. 

Not surprisingly, in the light of a new 
self-confidence in the men and women of 
the Renaissance, the art of portraiture devel- 
oped into an independent genre to which 
the panel was ideally suited. Increasingly 
lifelike figures of donors appeared at the 
sides of altarpieces (fig. 12), and local 
notables could be recognized among crowds 
present at episodes from the life of Christ 
or the saints, such as the luminaries of the 
papal court on the walls of the Sistine 
Chapel in Rome (c. 1482) or the prominent 
citizens of Florence in the fresco cycles of 
Domenico Ghirlandaio in Santa Trinita 
(1483—86) and Santa Maria Novella (1485— 
90). Occasionally a saint would be given 
the clearly recognizable features of a contemporary of the artist, as in Giovanni Bellini's 
portrait of the Dominican monk Fra Teodoro da Urbino as Saint Dominic (15 15; National 
Gallery, London). Panels recording the lineaments of a single individual were used at first 
for gifts and presentations, to celebrate a betrothal or as a diplomatic courtesy, but soon 
patrons were commissioning portraits of themselves for themselves (fig. 13). In the early 
part of the fifteenth century many sitters preferred a profile portrait, in imitation of ancient 
coins, which most accurately captured their likeness; later in the century they were represented 
in a three-quarters view that more vividly communicated the essence ot their character. 
Secular panels had at first a largely decorative function, just as secular trescoes had 
first been employed as substitutes for leather and tapestry wall coverings. The panels were 



Silvestro dei Gherarducci 
(Florence, 1339-1399), Virgin 
and Child Enthroned with Saints 
John the Baptist and John the 
Evangelist, Angels, and a Donor, 
c. 1375/85, tempera on panel, 
Los Angeles Country Museum 
of Art, gift of the Samuel H. 
Kress Foundation (M.39.1). 
CAT. NO. 6 


Giovanni Bellini (Venice, 1410- 
15 16), Portrait ofjors; Fu^^er, 
1474, oil on panel, Norton Simon 
Art Foundation, Pasadena. 

often mounted in wood wall paneling or large pieces of furniture or were fashioned as 
objects in themselves, such as trays or shields, for presentation or display rather than use. 
Even some of the largest and most famous of the fifteenth-century panel paintings were 
conceived as decoration: Paolo Uccello's three panels of the Battle of San Romano (now 
divided between the National Gallery, London; the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence; and the 
Musee du Louvre, Paris) were painted about 1445 for the end wall of a bedroom in the 
Palazzo Medici in Florence, and Sandro Botticelli's exquisite Primavera, Pa/las and the 
Centaur, and possibly the Birth of Venus (all arguably painted around 1482 or shortly there- 
after and now in the Uffizi) were in the private apartments of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco 
de' Medici, second cousin ot Lorenzo the Magnificent. 

Many of the paintings executed for inclusion in wall panels or furniture confirm the 
survival of the popular tradition of storytelling into the Renaissance. Some of the tales 
come from medieval chivalric literature and local legends, others from ancient history. 
The scenes and stories chosen for illustration usually feature an elaborate ceremony — 
a banquet, procession (fig. 14), wedding, tournament — that reflected activities in which the 
patron was often involved. The panels were displayed in the public rooms of private palaces 



as spalliere, mounted in the wall paneling or in the frame of a bed (even the bedroom was 
often a public space, doubling as a reception room), or as the sides oicassoni, large carved 
and painted chests commissioned at the time of a betrothal, in which a bride would carry 

her possessions to her new household and which then 
served the double purpose of storage and 
adornment (fig. 15). The themes chosen for these 
janels were suitably appropriate — stories of filial piety, 
iragons of female and male virtue, episodes of family 
Dry — but they seem more often to have been selected 
for their potential for splendor, variety, and rich- 
ness, deliberately incorporating batde 
scenes, triumphal entries, and social events. 
Single scenes were filled with crowds ot figures 
and animals, colorful textiles and armor (a good 
excuse for a great deal of gold and silver), and 
elaborate architectural or landscape back- 
grounds. Narrative panels incorporated as 
many episodes as possible, the composi- 
tion arranged in architectural stage sets to 
enhance the clarity of the progression of the tale. 

Ready-Made Art An artist in the early Renaissance rarely executed a panel without a com- 
mission, but there were exceptions. Ready-made secular images were available on panels to 
be included in pieces of furniture or to serve as wall decoration or deschi da parto, "birth 


FIGURE 14 (above) 
Bernardo Rosselli (Florence, 
1450-1526), The Triumph of 
Alexander the Great, c. 1485, 
tempera on panel, Los Angeles 
County Museum of Art, Phil 
Berg Collection (M.71.73.371). 
CAT. NO. 1 5 

FIGURE 15 (facing page) 
Zanobi di Domenico (Florence, 
died 1527), Jacopo del Sellaio 
(Florence, 1441/42-1493), and 
Biagio d' Antonio (Florence, c. 
1445-1510), The Morelli Cassone, 
1472, tempera on wood, 
Courtauld Institute Galleries, 
London, Lee Bequest. One of 
a pair made to commemorate 
a marriage between the Morelli 
and Nerli families, this cassone 
and its pendant are the only 
known examples with intact 
spalliere (painted backs). The 
scenes illustrated are Horatius 
Holding the Bridge (spalliera) and 
The Gauls Defeated by Marcus 
Furius Camillus (main panel). 

trays," on which refreshment was presented to a woman after she had delivered a child; 
these panels could be customized with coats of arms or mottoes. Such panels did not require 
a large outlay of material or time on the part ot the makers, who were usually not among 
the leading masters (although some of the panels did issue from major workshops, having 
been executed, we assume, by assistants). 

The relatively few religious paintings produced for a mass market were small images 
of the Virgin and Child (fig. 16) or, less commonly, the Crucifixion, Adoration, or 
Annunciation, to be used for personal devotions. Some ot these were versions of or details 
copied from well-known images, occasionally in the workshop of the master who had 
painted the original. Contemporary sources mention the mediocre madonnieri (literally, 
madonna makers), who specialized in such painting; they could count on these works to 
give them a steady income, especially from citizens who could not attord to commission 
a devotional image. 

Iconography Such imagery was essential because nearly every citizen had a saint or group 
of saints to whom he or she owed devotion. The concept oi intercession suggested that 
mortals, unworthy to address God in their sinful state, required advocates to plead for them. 
This was often the Virgin Mary, but some supplicants dared to approach her only through 
a lesser saint; others invoked the Virgin and many more saints for insurance. Many people 
lost sight of the intercessor as a channel to God and concentrated their devotion on that 
intercessor, whose specific image became the tocus of great piety and veneration. Some 
supplicants, in need of something they could see and touch, veered over the fine line sepa- 
rating veneration from idolatry, worshiping particular images, some of them associated 
with relics of a saint. Although hundreds of images of the Virgin and Child were available 




Master of the BargeWo Judgment 
of Paris (also called the Master 
of the Carrand Tondo; Florence, 
active early fifteenth century). 
Virgin of Humility, c. 1425, 
tempera on panel, Los Angeles 
County Museum of Art, gift of 
Robert Lehman (47.11. i). 


to the residents of any large city, it was 
not unusual for them to travel a great dis- 
tance to pray before an ancient image 
of the Virgin that had a proven record of 
healing or other answered prayer. A four- 
teenth-century fresco of the Annunciation 
in the church of the Santissima Annunziata 
in Florence was (and still is) a goal for 
many, and pilgrims from all over Europe 
have been journeying to Lucca since 
the eleventh century to venerate the Volto 
Santo^ a wooden crucifix once believed 
to have been carved by an eyewitness 
to the Crucifixion (see pp. 64—65 and 
FIGS. 46-47). 

By the very conditions of their exis- 
tence, individuals would enlist a whole 
company of saints in their defense 
(fig. 17). For example, Florentine banker 
Piero de' Medici, the father of Lorenzo 
the Magnificent, had a name saint (Peter), 
family saints (Cosmas and Damian, who 
were doctors, or medici), his guild's patron 
(Matthew, who was a tax collector, and 
thus the bankers' saint), his confraternity's 
patrons (the Three Kings, for the Compagnia 
dei Magi), the saint to whom his parish 
church was dedicated (Lawrence), and the 
protector of his city (John the Baptist), not 
to mention the myriad saints to be appealed 
to in the specific crises and events of life, such as childbirth (Margaret ot Antioch), plague 
(Roch and Sebastian), and travel (Christopher and Raphael). 

Thus the choice of even one saint to accompany the Virgin and Child in a painting 
was a matter for serious consideration and signifies the existence of a patron who had 
made that decision. The selection of saints was conditioned by the eventual purpose to 
which the work would be put: an image to be hung in a bedchamber might incorporate 
only the patron's name saint, while an altarpiece conspicuously displayed in the family 
chapel in a large church might comprise everyone up to and including the patron saint 
of the city. 

Narrative scenes drawn from the life of Christ, the Virgin Mary, or the saints (fig. 18) 
were as popular as individual or grouped figures of saints in attendance on Christ and his 



Neri di Bicci (Florence, 141 9— 
1492), Virgin and Child Enthroned 
with Saints and the Annunciation 
(triptych), c. 1440/50, 
tempera on panel, Los Angeles 
County Museum of Art, gift of 
Varya and Hans Cohn in honor 
of the museum's twenty-fifth 
anniversary (M.91.15). 
CAT. NO. 13 

mother. A story with a large number of episodes was ideal for a fresco cycle, for example, the 
extensive early-fourteenth-century series of scenes from the life of Saint Francis in the upper 
church of San Francesco in Assisi (once attributed to Giotto but now believed to be the work of 
three unidentified artists, two of whom may have been Roman) or Vincenzo Foppa's life of Saint 
Peter Martyr, painted in the late fifteenth century in the Portinari Chapel, Sant'Eustorgio, Milan. 
Such an elaborate program, however, could rarely be accommodated on all but the largest 
altarpieces. One scene would usually be the primary subject of an altarpiece (fig. 19), and a 
small group of scenes could serve as subsidiary decoration on a predella, wings, or pinnacles. 
Such scenes not only educated the faithful and presented models for personal piety, they satis- 
fied a craving for entertainment — the delight in storytelling evinced by the entire population. 
It should be remembered that many of these stories were immediately recognizable to most of the 
populace, who had grown up in the midst of an immense amount of similar visual imagery. One 
episode in a predella would not only identify the corresponding saint in the main panel above but 
would recall to the viewer the whole narrative of that saint's life, works, and miracles. 




Lorenzo Monaco (Florence, 
1370— 1425), Martyrdom of Pope 
Caius, c. 1394/95, tempera on 
panel, Santa Barbara Museum 
of Art, museum purchase. 

A love of narrative was also responsible for much of the secular subject matter in paintings 
of the early Renaissance, a great deal of which was drawn from the literature of antiquity, from 
Homer's Iliad and Odyssey and Virgil's Aeneidto the biographies of notable Greeks and Romans 
by Plutarch and Suetonius. The tone could be moralizing or frivolous, depending on the whim 
of the patron and the purpose for which the painting was executed. The depiction of a series of 
illustrious men and women of antiquity (both biblical and classical) and the Middle Ages, 
extolling their exemplary character and accomplishments, proved a popular and edifying theme: 
King David, Judith, Queen Esther, Alexander the Great, Queen Tomyris, and the Roman gen- 
eral Scipio Africanus became nearly as recognizable as the saints. Myths and legends were mixed 
with local history in a fairy-tale blend that charmed and delighted. The more refined the patron, 
the greater the desire to infuse the subject with symbolism and hidden meaning. Such inveniioni, 
which required learning and intellectual cunning to unravel, were a serious and engrossing 
pastime for the patrons and their resident scholars or humanist advisors. Unfortunately and 
intriguingly, some of the layers of meaning of such works — Botticelli's Primavem, for example — 
have been irretrievably lost over the centuries, and in the absence of documentary evidence 
there is no way to discern which of several conflicting modern interpretations is correct. 



Martino di Bartolomeo (Siena, 
active 1389—1434/35), Coronation 
of the Virgin, c. 1425, tempera 
on panel, Los Angeles County 
Museum of Art, William 
Randolph Hearst Collection 

CAT. NO. 10 

Fragments Many of the early Renaissance panel paintings in the world's museums are 
segments of larger works that were disassembled and dispersed. Central panels of large 
altarpieces have been separated from their wings, predellas, pinnacles (fig. 20), or spandrels 
and are now often divided by a continent or more, if they have survived at all. Such altar- 
pieces, once occupying a position of honor on a church's main altar, were gradually moved 
to side altars and then to sacristies or storage areas so that they could be replaced by works 
in a newer style. Primarily in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the less important 
elements and occasionally whole altarpieces were cut up and sold — sometimes legally, 
more often not — either to provide extra income for a church (or a member of its clergy) or 
when a church was suppressed, that is, officially closed and deconsecrated. Occasionally, 




Bartolo di Fredi (Siena, c. 1330— 
1409/10), The Annunciation 
(pinnacles from the Coronation 
Altarpiece), 1383/88, tempera 
on panel, Los Angeles County 
Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. 
Allan C. Balch Collection 

CAT. NOS. 1-2 

written or visual evidence, such as documents from church archives or old engravings, 
allows us to discover the origin ot a detached panel and the location of other segments of 
the same altarpiece or monument, such as Duccio's immense Maesta (1308— 1 1), whose cen- 
tral panel and many subsidiary scenes still fortunately remain in Siena (Museo dell'Opera 
del Duomo), or Ugolino di Nerio's high altar of about 1325 for the great Franciscan church 
of Santa Croce in Florence, some of whose major sections, including the central image of 
the Virgin and Child, are lost (fig. 21; see cat. no. 17). 

Secular art did not escape this fate. Cassone panels and spalliere especially were often 
sawn or pried out of their furniture surrounds and cut into as many pieces as the composi- 
tion would allow (figs. 22—23), iri order to maximize the seller's profits, just as other 
vendors would for the same purpose separate pendant paintings, break up a set ot objects, 
or tear the illustrations out of an illuminated manuscript or printed book. 



Ugolino di Nerio (called 
Ugolino da Siena; Siena, active 
1317- c. 1527), U^orshiping 
Angels, c. 1320/25, tempera 
on panel, Los Angeles County 
Museum of Art, William 
Randolph Hearst Collection 

CAT. NO. 17 

The Artists of the Early Renaissance The concept of the collector acquiring art out of 
admiration for its beauty and the artist's talent was only in its nascent stage at the very end 
of the fifteenth century. Isabella d'Este, the marchioness ot Mantua, sent her agents after 
many paintings, but the force behind her acquisitive frenzy was the desire to have a work by 
every possible eminent artist; the painting itself seems to have been of secondary impor- 
tance: she was unconcerned about the artist's style, and while she initially dictated explicit 
details of iconography, she was happy to setde for a different subject altogether. This was in 
contrast to her son, Federigo, first duke of Mantua, who was not concerned with the identity 
of the artist as long as the erotic content of the painting was pronounced. 

Federigo's attitude, rather than his mother's, characterized most of the patrons of the 
early Renaissance, who perceived artists as servants, as producers of commodities, or as 
commodities themselves. As we have seen, the artist's task was largely subject to the 
patron's desires. The depiction of specific subject matter was constrained both by the 
patron's demands and by convention, and the elements and arrangement of the composition 
were strictly dictated by church authorities, court scholars, or erudite "advisors." Some 
themes, particularly religious subjects for public display, required a traditional iconography 
accessible to all; contracts often specified that a painting be executed in ^''modo et forma" 
that is, in the manner and form of an earlier work. Other themes were complex, highly per- 
sonal, and newly invented or reinvented for the delectation of the cultural elite. Either way 
there was little latitude for innovation. It required all the inventive powers of an artist to 
produce a composition that was not simply a more recent version of a well-known image; 




Marco Zoppo (Bologna and 
Venice, 1453-1478), Scene of 
Judgment (fragment oi Shooting 
at Father's Corpse), c. 1462, 
tempera on panel, Los Angeles 
County Museum of Art, gift of 
Howard Ahmanson, Jr. 
(m.8i. 259.1). 
CAT. NO. 18 

many lesser artists did not even make the effort to do so. The most leeway was accorded 
in matters of style, but even here the effect of tradition may be seen. The central panel ot 
a large altarpiece, for example, was usually a manifestation of an artist's style at its most 
conservative, while the predella provided an opportunity for experimentation and now 
gives us a better idea of the painter's unfettered interests and abilities, unless, as sometimes 
happened, these subsidiary elements were assigned to an assistant of lesser talent. 

The typical bottega (workshop) of an early Renaissance artist was tull ot assistants, 
some of minimal talent. There were journeymen (fully trained artists hired as assistants), 
one or more apprentices sent to learn art as a trade, and helpers of all sorts; occasionally 
more than one master would share space and personnel. The terms of a contract and the 
amount ot the payment determined the degree ot participation ot the master: tor a high 
price he would execute the work himself, although his assistants would prepare the panel 
and colors and would perhaps do some background painting; at the bottom of the fee 
scale he would merely invent the composition and supervise the work ot a shop assistant. 
It is thus not unusual for paintings of this period to show the hand of more than one 
artist (fig. 24). 



Marco Zoppo (Bologna and 
Venice, 1433-1478), fragment of 
Shooting at Father's Corpse, 
c. 1462, tempera on panel, 
Florence, private collection. 
See CAT. NO. 18 

The artist with a large bottega produced work in a variety of media; a few, like Francesco 
di Giorgio in Siena, Leonardo da Vinci in Milan, and Andrea Verrocchio and Botticelli in 
Florence, turned out panel paintings, frescoes, sculpture in various media, goldsmiths' 
work, illuminated manuscripts, decorated leather, and designs for embroidery and intarsia 
(wood mosaic), not to mention architecture and engines of warfare. Some shops included 
resident carpenters and carvers who could make panels, frames, and even pieces of furniture 
into which the panels were set. 

In some cities — Siena, for example — painters were compelled to join guilds with strict 
regulations about practices and even materials; in other cities they were a loose federation. 
But the structure of a bottega was organized along the lines of a family, literally and figura- 
tively. As in all ranks of society at that time, children were expected to enter the family 
business, unless they went into the church or showed a talent for another career that would 
elevate the status of their family or provide an economic advantage. Those in whom artistic 
ability was somewhat lacking, even after years of training, could function in other capacities 
for the workshop — preparing grounds, mixing colors, or outside the bottega as buyers, 
agents, even notaries. The family structure extended also to those who came to the shop as 



strangers: enterprising apprentices and journeymen often married their 
master's daughters or sisters (or, better yet, their widows), others 
were legally adopted by their masters. 

The role of women in this structure is difficult to assess, 
aside from the fact that their marriages were often arranged 
to be commercially advantageous for the bottega. 
Although we have no evidence of women artists in 
fifteenth-century Italy, and they assuredly were 
not acceptable in the guild system, it is difficult 
to believe that the women of a family that had 
produced generations of artists would have 
had no artistic ability. It would not have been 
encouraged, certainly, but surely there 
would have been a few women strong-willed 
enough to persist in their art, just as the 
family dynasties of enamel painters of 
Limoges occasionally produced a daughter, 
like Susanne de Court, whose work was 
too excellent to be ignored. Did women 
perhaps paint the "ready-made" devotional 
panels in the privacy of the family bottega.'' 
Was their work passed off as that of their 
brothers or cousinsi' 

The abandonment of the wood panel 
for linen canvas was a gradual process 
and took place in different times and at 
different paces in each artistic center of 
Renaissance Italy. Canvas had been used 
even in the early Renaissance as a support 
for painted banners meant to be carried 
in religious processions, civic celebrations, 
or tournaments. Italian artists may 
have been prompted to use canvas more 
frequently by the number of Flemish paint- 
ings on canvas imported into their cities 
or by the presence ot Flemish artists among 
them. In Venice, where changes in temper- 
ature and humiditv were more pronounced, 
artists were quick to prefer the more stable 
stretched and primed canvas to ^'ood that 
would expand and contract, to the detri- 


ment of the paint layer, or to a plaster wall that would hold the damp and flake. The change 
of support seems to have been a choice governed by the size of the painting, its intended use 
or placement, the wishes of the patron, or the preference of the artist. 

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE For an excellent introduction to the many aspects of Renaissance panel painting, 
see especially David Bomford, Jill Dunkerton, Dillian Gordon, and Ashok Roy, Art in the Making: Italian 
Painting before 1400, exh. cat. (London: National Gallery Publications, 1989); Jill Dunkerton, Susan Foister, 
Dillian Gordon, and Nicholas Penny, Giotto to DUrer: Early Renaissance Painting in the National Gallery 
(New Haven: Yale University Press; London: National Gallery Publications, 1991); and Henk van Os, Sienese 
Altarpieces, 1215-1460: Form, Content, Function, 1 vols. (Groningen: Bouma's Boekhuis/ Egbert Forsten, 
1984/ 1990), all of which have extensive bibliographies. 


Follower of Mariotto di Nardo 
(Florence, active 1394— 1424), 
Virgin and Child with Saints 
Francis, John the Baptist, 
Catherine of Alexandria, and 
Anthony Abbot, c. 1420, tempera 
on panel, Los Angeles County 
Museum of Art, William 
Randolph Hearst Collection 

CAT. NO. 9 



Technical Introduction 


Much of our knowledge regarding early Italian painting comes from a relatively well-known 
treatise written by the artist Cennino d 'Andrea Cennini. Though he wrote his manuscript 
II libra dell' arte in about 1400, he described techniques that had been in use for more than 
a centuryj Other fifteenth-century manuscripts about the making of paintings survive, but 
these are either more like recipe books, of which the so-called Bolognese manuscript is an 
example, or not so complete as Cennini, of which the Strasburg manuscript originating in 
northern Europe is an example.^ Cennini, however, wrote for young apprentices and instructed 
them in everything from grinding pigments to preparing the panel to applying colors.^ 

In recent years scientific analysis of Italian paintings of the fourteenth and fifteenth cen- 
turies has added to our understanding of the materials and techniques used by artists of the 
time.* Pigments and media have been identified for many paintings from this period, and 
the actual layer sequence of ground and paint layers has now been proven. The results of 


the analysis of these materials and techniques generally support Cennini's writing of more 
than five hundred years ago. 

Most of the paintings that have come down to us from the fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries are on wood panels. There were paintings on canvas, but it was not until the six- 
teenth century that fabric became a widespread support for altar paintings. Cennini gives 
little space to paintings on canvas, but he does mention something that helps to explain why 
they eventually became popular: canvas paintings could be folded or rolled without harm- 
ing the gold or paint. Thus, they could be transported much more easily. 


Stages in the making of a panel 
painting (illustration by Virginia 
Rasmussen) i/ar left, gesso, bole, 
and some gold leaf applied; 
middle, gold burnished, punch- 
work begun, first layers of paint 
applied;yor n^^f, flesh still to 
be completed. 

In format the smaller paintings in this volume are of two types: the single-panel devo- 
tional painting, such as the Virgin and Child with Saints Francis, John the Baptist, Catherine 
of Alexandria, and Anthony Abbot, by a follower of Mariotto di Nardo (see fig. 24), and the 
portable triptych, such as that by Neri di Bicci (see fig. 17), with a central image of the 
Virgin and Child and wings depicting saints. The wings would be closed to protect the pre- 
cious images, and with the wings closed (see fig. 7) the triptych converts into a compact 
object that could be easily transported. 

Some of the smaller panels were originally components of multipaneled altarpieces 
called polyptychs. The more sophisticated polyptychs usually have a central vertical image 
flanked by two or more panels with a lower horizontal series of images called the predella 
and an upper series called the pinnacles. The two Bartolo di Fredi panels depicting The 
Angel of the Annunciation and The Virgin Annunciate (see fig. 20) were once pinnacles from 



X-radiograph of Martino di 

Bartolomeo, Coronation of the 

Virgin, c. 1425. 

CAT. NO. 10 



a dispersed large polyptych from the Chapel of the Annunciation in the church of San 
Francesco in Montalcino outside Siena. 

It is thought that the little narrow panel oiA Bishop Saint and Saint Lawrence (see fig. 6) 
by Gherardo di Jacopo di Neri Stamina once formed part of a predella. Recent studies have 
found that predella images were painted on one continuous piece of wood. ^ As was the fate 
of the Stamina in this collection, many predellas were cut up to be made into several indi- 
vidual pictures for the art market. 

The Luca di Tomme Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints Nicholas and Paul (see 
FIG. 35) appears always to have been a single-panel altar painting. A single rectangular 
painting devoid of any supplementary imagery is relatively uncommon in fourteenth-cen- 
tury Italian religious art; however, by the fifteenth century this type of painting became the 
norm. The altarpiece by the Master of the Fiesole Epiphany\ Christ on the Cross with Saints 



Reverse of Rosso Fiorentino 
(Florence, 1495- 1 540), y4//e^ory 
of Salvation with the Virgin, 
the Christ Child, Saint EHiaheth, 
the Young Saint John, and Two 
Angels, c. 1 52 1, oil on panel, 
Los Angeles County Museum 
of Art, gift of Dr. and Mrs. 
Herbert T. Kalmus (54.6). 

Vincent Ferrer, John the Baptist, Mark, 
and Antoninus (see fig. 45), is an example. 
Such a work, with one unified image, has 
a tabernacle frame, which is like a window 
through which the painting is viewed. ^ 
Such paintings could have predellas, but 
whether or not this was true for either of 
the museum's paintings will only be deter- 
mined if more documents about the 
paintings come to light. 

Secular art is represented here by 
two panels. The Triumph of Alexander 
the Great by Bernardo Rosselli (see 
FIG. 14) and Scene of Judgment by Marco 
Zoppo (see fig. 22). Once proportionally 
longer like the Rosselli, the Zoppo has 
been cut in half (see fig. 23). Each of these 
panels would have decorated the fronts of chests, or cassoni, which would have been used 
for storage. Though utilitarian, these pieces of furniture were also highly prized decora- 
tive objects. 

The Supports Italian panels are almost always made of poplar, a tree common in Italy. 
Small upright panels consist of a single plank of wood set vertically. Large panels, as one 
would expect, are composed of several planks. The panel for Luca di Tomme's Virgin and 
Child Enthroned with Saints Nicholas and Paul, for example, is made up of three vertical 
planks probably glued together and held tightly with wooden "butterflies." The latter rein- 
forcements, which are set flush into the planks, show up in X-radiographs of the painting 
(fig. 39). Dowels were also commonly used to join wooden planks of a panel, and X-radi- 
ographs will often expose these as well (fig. 26). 

Battens across the reverse gave additional support to composite panels and helped to 
keep them flat. Though Rosso Fiorentino's Allegory of Salvation with the Virgin, the Christ 
Child, Saint Elizabeth, the Young Saint John, and Two Angels, c. 1521, in the Los Angeles 
County Museum of Art, is beyond the scope of this volume, it provides an excellent exam- 
ple here because the reverse of the panel has remained completely intact. Metal braces have 
been added later across some of the joins; however, the rough backs of the planks, with 
marks of planing, and the heavy battens crossing the top and bottom of the panel, have not 
been altered in any other way (fig. 27). It is very rare to find a panel in this original state. 
Why this is true will be discussed toward the end of this essay. 

The way in which the panel for Luca's Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints Nicholas 
and Paul was put together suggests that it was crafted with a particular composition in 
mind. The joins are aligned on either side of the Virgin, between the Virgin and saints. 






X-radiograph detail (upper left) 
of Niccolo di Pietro Gerini, 
Virgin and Child with Saints John 
the Baptist, Dominic, Peter, and 
Paul, 1375/85. 



Cross section of Luca di Tomme, 
Virgin and Child Enthroned with 
Saints Nicholas and Paul, 
c. 1367/70, magnification of 
250X, showing paint layers and 
ground in the area of Saint 
Paul's pink robe. 
CAT. NO. 8 

Since joins may come apart or open with age, they were 
obviously placed between the figures so as not to deface 
them if and when they did open. 

Fourteenth-century paintings, such as the two Bartolo 
di Fredi panels of the Annunciation, often have engaged 
frames, referred to as such when a frame molding was 
attached to the edges of the panel before any preparation 
for painting began.'' Additional molding was usually added 
to the polyptych once painting was completed. This type 
of framing continued into the fifteenth century (the Neri di 
Bicci triptych of c. 1440/^0 [see fig. 17] being one example) 
even when frames began to be made completely separate 
from the panel (as in the case of the altarpiece by the Master 
of the Fiesole Epiphany). 

Panels were prepared by a carpenter, and panels for 
larger, more expensive commissions were made to order. 
We know this from surviving contracts for such projects. 
The expense of the carpenter could even be as much as that 

of the artist, for the woodworker not only made the panel but also had to carve moldings 

and attach them to the edges of the panel. ^ 

Panel Preparation Preparation of a panel for painting required several steps that were 
usually completed in the artist's studio. The goal of preparation was to achieve a very 
smooth, white surface with just enough roughness, or tooth, and absorption to create 
a good bond with the paint. Any holes or knots had to be filled and 
smoothed, then the panel was sized with glue. In order to further stabilize 
and even out the surface, thin linen was sometimes attached with glue over 
the face of the panel. The linen can sometimes be detected in X-radiographs 
of Italian panels, (fig. 28). 

The next step was the application of the ground, which in this case 
was composed of numerous coats of gesso, a mixture of gypsum and 
animal-skin glue. Cennini gives elaborate directions for the preparation 
and application of gesso, beginning with the coarser first layers and then 
following with the finer later layers. Each application of gesso was carefully rubbed and 
smoothed. Cross sections of the paint and ground layers from Luca's Virgin and Child 
Enthroned with Saints Nicholas ani^ Pau/ actually show the layers of preparation as described 
by Cennini (fig. 29). 

Underdrawing From Cennini's treatise we learn that the design of the painting should first 
be drawn out with charcoal on the gesso and then, using diluted ink or paint, worked up 
with some indications of drapery folds. The growing transparency over time of paint films 


has made some of these drawings visible to the unaided eye. The Coronation oj the Virgin 
by Martino di Bartolomeo (see fig. 19) is one such example. Here we see the drawn 
outlines of forms and indications of folds in many areas of the picture. When the drawing 
was completed, these outlines were inscribed with a pointed object wherever the forms 
abut areas that were to be gilded. The panels by Luca and Martino exhibit this last feature 
quite clearly. 

An infrared photograph (see fig. 54) of the altarpiece by the Master of the Fiesole 
Epiphany reveals the underdrawing especially clearly in the figures of Saints John 
the Baptist and Mark because the red paints used for the drapery are penetrated by the 
infrared rays. There are, however, no inscribed lines. In the introduction of Giorgio 
Vasari's Lives of the Artists, first published in 1 550, the author included technical treatises on 
painting, sculpture, and architecture. Vasari described how an artist could transfer a design 
done on paper to the ground, but he did not adhere to Cennini's system. According to 
Vasari the sketch was done on paper initially so that it could be reworked according to the 
inspiration of the artist. (This was an important development as well: Vasari saw the artist 
as an inspired, creative person rather than the craftsman that Cennini emphasized.) The 
reverse of the paper was rubbed with charcoal, and by the use of a sharp instrument the 
design was transferred to the white ground.^ Rosso Fiorentino in his Allegory of Salvation 
sketched out the design on the ground with charcoal. Whether or not the designs of this 
panel and that by the Master of the Fiesole Epiphany were first transferred to the ground 
from a cartoon as Vasari describes cannot be determined for certain. 

Gilding Once the design was set, the next step for a gold-ground painting was the gilding. 
Gold acts as a continuous, ethereal backdrop for the holy figures in fourteenth- and early- 
fifteenth-century Italian panels. Gold leaf is gold beaten until it is as thin as paper. When it 
is applied and burnished properly, it acquires a hard, reflective surface. Punching, which 
indents the gold so that it reflects light at different angles, provides the decorative details of 
halos and borders. 

The surface that best allows for burnishing and punching is a natural clay called bole. 
This usually reddish material imparts a rich, warm color to the thin metal leaf. The bole is 
mixed with size or egg and applied in several layers where the gold is to be applied. 

Transferring the thin, crinkly gold leaf onto the bole, which is wetted just before gild- 
ing, is no easy task. It requires some skill, and Cennini gives careful instructions concerning 
the process. Before the bole has become too dry, the gold is burnished with a hard stone 
such as agate. The stone must be perfectly smooth, and it must be rubbed over the gold 
with steady but not too great pressure so as not to break the fragile gold leaf. The transfor- 
mation of the gold from a crinkled appearance to one of a hard, solid surface is remarkable. 

Again, before the bole has had time to become too dry the gold is inscribed with sharp 
compasses to mark out halos and stamped to give decorative designs to halos and borders. 
Stamping is "one of our most delightful branches," according to Cennini,''° and is accom- 
plished with metal tools of various shapes called punches. A punch is tapped with a hammer 



Detail of Luca di Tomme, 

Virgin and Child Enthroned with 

Saints Nicholas and Paul, 

c. 1367/70, showing punchwork 

and incised lines in the area of 

the Virgin's halo. 

into the gold ground, thus stamping the design of the punch into the surface. Bole, being 
a soft and pliable material, allows the indentation to take place without breaking the gold if 
it is skillfully done. 

Though many different designs of punches are found on Renaissance panels, each 
studio would generally reuse the same punches in panel after panel. In Luca's painting of 
the Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints Nicholas and Paul the various punches include 
quatrefoil, oval, and circular designs (fig. 30). The sparkling effect between the larger 
punch marks was created with a tiny pointed punch repeatedly hammered into the gold. 
Cennini refers to this overall broken-up effect of the tiny pointed stamp, 
saying that the tiny punch marks "sparkle like millet grains."^'' 

Niccolo di Pietro Gerini's Virgin and Child with Saints John the Baptist, 
Dominic, Peter, and Paul {see fig. 9) is decorated not only with incised 
lines and punchwork but also with sgraffito (from the Italian sgraffio mean- 
ing "scratch" or "abrasion"), which involves laying paint over the gold 
and then scratching off the paint to create a design. In the Gerini panel the 
exposed gold was then punched with tiny pointed punches to create the 
appearance of a very rich textile woven with designs of golden figures and 
foliage (fig. 31). 

During the fifteenth century gold grounds came to be replaced with 
more naturalistic backdrops. In the Christ on the Cross by the Master of the 
Fiesole Epiphany, instead of a solid background of gold, there is a blue sky 
with receding clouds. Gold did not fall out of use, however; it was used in different ways, 
such as ornamental details of halos, clothing, and hair. There is no better example than the 
gold striations illuminating the space behind Christ in this panel. The gold is set on top of 
the paint, and it is slighdy raised. Cennini explains this technique, known as mordant 
gilding, in some detail, and it is found on a number of panels in this collection (fig. 32). 
(Mordant gilding should not be confused with shell gold, which is gold beaten to a powder 
and suspended in a medium such as egg white so that it can be applied as a paint.) 

The striations in the Christ on the Cross were first painted with a mordant or adhesive, 
probably a resin-type material. A sheet of gold leaf was then applied over the mordant. 
Once the adhesive set, the unattached gold was brushed away, leaving the intended gold 
design. Mordant gilding was also used to decorate the hems ot manv of the garments in this 
fifteenth-century painting. 

Pigments and Paint All of the panels represented in this volume were painted in a very 
similar way using similar materials and techniques. Once again, Cennini explains the 
process in some detail, from selecting and grinding pigments, even fashioning brushes and 
tempering the colors, to applying them to the design. 

The palettes used by medieval panel painters were limited compared with today's. 
Pigments such as terre verte were prepared from naturally occurring minerals, while a tew 
inorganic pigments could be artificially prepared. For example, verdigris, a green pigment. 


could be made by exposing copper to some form of vinegar followed by additional steps to 
refine the green corrosion products. Another important group of pigments was prepared 
from dyes. Coloring matter extracted from plants, such as indigo, or insect secretions, such 
as lac, could be deposited on a colorless substrate, such as aluminum hydrate, to form what 
is called a lake pigment." The standard pigments were obtained from speiiali (spice deal- 
ers), while the more precious ones were obtained from other sources. Ultramarine, for 
example, was so expensive, more expensive even than pure gold, that if it was to be used, 
the contract between the artist and patron stipulated the extent of its use, and the patron 
would often obtain the pigment himself. ^^ 

The medieval artist actually had a remarkable amount of information available to him 
about the various pigments. For example, vermilion, the bright orange-red color found in 
many of our panels, should be bought in lump form, according to the streetwise Cennini, 
who knew that if the artist bought the pigment already ground, he would also be paying for 
additives or extenders, a problem that has plagued artists even to the present day. Cennini, 
who discusses the art of grinding pigments, says of vermilion, "Grind it with clear water as 
much as ever you can; for if you were to grind it every day for twenty years, it would still 
be better and more perfect-''^"* He could also relate something about the deterioration of this 
opaque red, for artists of his day looked at their own "Old Masters" to learn how pigments 
would weather or age. Vermilion, they found, could turn black when exposed to air. One 
painting in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has been afflicted in this way, though 
not too seriously: the vermilion of the frame arch of Gerini's Virgin and Child with Saints 
John the Baptist, Dominic, Peter, and Paul has discolored in a number of areas. Because of 
this possible instability of vermilion, Cennini recommends that artists use this pigment for 
panel painting, where it would be bound in medium and probably varnished, but not for 
fresco on the wall, where it would be more exposed. ^^ 

The commonly used violet red, a lake, was best if prepared from the secretion of the 
larvae of the lac insect, according to Cennini. ''s Since it is a relatively translucent pigment, it 
can produce rich glazes, which are evident in the dress of Saint Mark in the Christ on the 
Cross. Mixed with white, it is the cool pink of Saint Paul's drapery in Luca's Virgin and 
Child Enthroned with Saints Nicholas and Paul. 

Valued for its violet blue shade, ultramarine was the most precious of pigments. 
Ultramarine is the mineral lazurite in the semiprecious stone lapis lazuli. It must be sepa- 
rated from the other minerals in the stone, such as calcite: the stone is powdered and then 
mixed into a paste of pine rosin, gum mastic, and wax in a weak lye solution. The lazurite 
will be given up, while the paste retains much of the gray or colorless material.''^ Ultra- 
marine was used quite extensively in the Christ on the Cross. Mixed with white, it is the color 
for the sky and for the blue garments of the angels. This must have been very expensive, 
and it may only have been possible because the monastery of San Marco, for which it was 
painted, probably served as a major supplier of ultramarine.^^ 

Azurite, the other important blue pigment, also exists naturally. Cennini tells his read- 
ers to grind it "very moderately and lightly" otherwise it will lose some of its tinting 



Detail of Niccolo di Pietro 
Gerini, Virgin and Child with 
Saints John the Baptist^ Dominic^ 
Peter, and Paul, 1375/85, 
showing sgraffito in drape over 
the throne. 


Detail of Saint Lawrence's 
dalmatic from Neri di Bicci, 
Virgin and Child Enthroned with 
Saints and the Annunciation 
(triptych), c. 1440/50, showing 
mordant gilding. In some areas 
the gold has worn off revealing 
the brown discolored mordant. 

Strength. ^3 While azurite is fairly stable in its natural state, it does not always fare so well 
as a paint. This condition could be exemplified by several paintings in the museum's collec- 
tion, but one example will suffice here: the azurite robe of the Virgin in the large altarpiece 
by Luca di Tomme is now almost totally black. It is hard to imagine that it was once a regal 
blue, but that is the case. A tiny sample of paint taken from the robe and examined under 
high magnification reveals that the paint film is composed of rough particles of azurite that 
still retain their original blue color (see fig. 42). But why does the paint appear black under 
normal viewing conditions.'' The answer seems to be that the medium surrounding the 
pigment particles, as well as successive layers of varnish that have penetrated the paint film, 
have discolored, not the pigment itself. 

The most pervasive use of green in our panels is for the underpainting of the flesh. 
Cennini describes how flesh is built up beginning with a terre-verte underpainting. The 
color can be seen in most of the panels; note especially the Virgin's face in Luca's panel. 
Terre verte, when it is ot very good quality, can be a fairly intense green, diough diis is 
rare. The Master of the Fiesole Epiphany obviously had a source for a very good terre verte, 
because the bright greens in the landscape are largely painted with that pigment.^" 

The actual preparation, mixing, and application of pigments followed strict rules. 
Pigments were first ground in water. Then, at the time of painting, diey were mixed or tem- 
pered with the yolk of an egg. Because egg tempera dries very quickly, it cannot be blended 
as oil paint can. Instead, the various tones of a color — dark, middle, and light — had to be 
mixed separately. Each tone was applied in stroke after stroke, one next to the other, with 
a round brush. One sees these strokes in most of the paintings. The tones were "blended" 
by hatching one tone over the other at their junction. 



Detail of the Virgin's face in 
Luca di Tomme, Virgin and 
Child Enthroned with Saints 
Nicholas and Paul, c. 1367/70. 

Cennini describes how to paint various images: a youthful face, a dead 
man, different types of drapery, to name but a few. For the building up of 
a form with tempera paint, let us take the pink robe of Saint Paul in the 
Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints Nicholas and Paul hy Luca. Cennini 
uses the painting of a drape with lac as an example in his treatise, and it is 
this color, in fact, that we see in Paul's mantle. The darkest ot the mixed 
colors is applied to the shadows of the folds. The middle color is used to 
bring the color out of the shadow, and then the light colors are painted. 
These colors were applied again and again until the form was covered and 
well blended. Finally, a lighter color was applied to the brightest areas, and 
at last pure lead white was used to create the strongest reliefs. The darkest 
shadows were painted with pure lac. 

The system that Cennini describes for painting flesh really does suc- 
ceed in creating lifelike effects — witness Luca's Virgin in the Virgin and 
Child Enthroned with Saints Nicholas and Paul {¥IG. 33). The cheeks are 
flushed with vermilion. The terre-verte underpainting aids in creating shad- 
ows, and a brown-colored mixture called verdaccio contributes depth and some translucency 
to the dark colors. Between the rosy cheeks and the green-brown shadows lies the middle 
flesh tone, probably a mixture of vermilion, lead white, and ocher. 

How and when oil paints entered the picture is still being disputed. Vasari in his Lives of 
the Artists tells how Antonello da Messina introduced the technique to Italy, having learned 
it from the Flemish painter Jan van Eyck.^i This is, of course, an oversimplification and 
highly unlikely. Van Eyck died in 1441 and Antonello was active only from 1456. Also there 
is no conclusive evidence that Antonello visited the Netherlands. 22 It is more likely that 
painting with oils became the dominant technique in Western painting in a much less dra- 
matic fashion, and while there seems to be a stronger tradition for the use of oils in the 
North, there was certainly an exchange between the artists of the two areas. 

Painting in oil had been known for some time, and Cennini briefly describes the 
preparation and use of oil. It was used in numerous areas ot Italy in the fifteenth century, 
but it was employed in different ways by different artists. How it was used and to what 
extent also varies with the location. While some artists glazed a tempera underpainting 
with oil, others mixed it with the egg tempera, and still others used it for almost the entire 
painting.23 The figures in the Christ on the Cross, for example, appear to have been painted 
primarily with egg tempera, created with the traditional strokes. The sky, however, is a 
thick layer of paint that stands out from the tempera. This layer could be oil or oil mixed 
with egg. 

Since oil dries more slowly than egg tempera, it can be blended. Hence, more subtle 
modeling can be achieved than one finds in egg tempera paintings. With oil, true glazes are 
possible, and deeper, richer colors can be attained. The Virgin and Child hy the Venetian 
artist Jacopo Bellini (see fig. ii) must have been painted using oil glazes to achieve a more 
naturalistic effect. 



Traditionally, paintings were coated with varnish to saturate and protect the colors. 
There has been some disagreement regarding varnishing when it comes to Italian panels, 
with one school believing that they were varnished and another believing they were not or 
only very lightly. Be that as it may, Cennini does devote a short section to the varnishing of 
panels, stating that a painting should be well dried before any varnishing can take place. He 
goes on to advise the reader to place the panel in the sun prior to applying varnish. This, of 
course, would warm the painting so that the varnish could be more easily spread over the 
surface of the panel. 2* 

Changes and Deterioration We should not be surprised that paintings of such age, no matter 
how well crafted, have suffered changes, whether through natural deterioration or by acts of 
man. Understanding these changes helps in our own appreciation of these precious objects. 

Some panels, such as the Neri di Bicci triptych, have remained largely intact. Fortunately, 
this small devotional painting has not been dismembered. Conversely, many of the pieces 
in the collection come from large polyptychs dismantled years ago. As mentioned above, 
the two small panels by Bartolo di Fredi are pinnacles from a large polyptych. The Ugolino 
di Nerio spandrels of Worshiping Angels (see fig. 21) were cut out of a well-documented 
large polyptych from the high altar of Santa Croce in Florence. The other panels from this 
large altarpiece are scattered around the world, with London and Berlin holding the largest 
number; to add to the sad fate of the polyptych, several of its panels have been destroyed 
or lost. 

We find that the paintings themselves have often been cut down. The head of Saint John 
the Baptist by Paolo Veneziano (see fig. 2) is only a fragment of a larger panel. It may have 
been that the rest of the panel was damaged and only the well-preserved area was salvaged. 

The large altarpiece by Luca di Tomme has been trimmed on all but one side, the top, 
which retains the edge of the panel where the frame was engaged. Along the upper border 
one still sees the punchwork in the gold that would have followed the edge of the frame. 
This same motif would surely have decorated the edge of the gold on the left and right sides 
as well. One can think of a number of reasons to explain such paring down of a picture. 
There may have simply been the desire to remove the engaged frame, or it may have been 
an attempt to remove damaged edges. In the past, Italian panels have been cut down for the 
art market in an attempt to formulate dimensions and compositions that would suit the col- 
lectors of the time (or even to fit a particular frame!). It was also quite popular to dismantle 
cassoni to create easel pictures from their painted sides. Zoppo's Scene of Judgment (see 
FIG. 22) is actually half of a cassone panel, the other half being in a private collection in 
Florence. Why this image, which really does not make sense unless seen in its entirer\-, was 
cut in half is diflicult to imagine. 

Many of the wood supports themselves have gone through excessive treatments in an 
attempt to correct years of deterioration. Two of the major causes of past disintegration ot 
wood panels are insect infestation and strong fluctuations in relative humidity and tempera- 
ture. The larvae of woodworm tunnel through wood and weaken it, culminating -with exit 


holes for the adult beetles to escape; the holes are often visible on the paint surface. Poplar, 
being a soft wood, responds readily to changes in relative humidity and temperature. Such 
responses cause splitting, opening of joins, and bowing. 

In the past the most common treatment for deteriorated panels was cradling. The first 
step of the treatment was that of thinning the bowed panel so that it could be flattened 
with pressure. Then a cradle was attached. A cradle is composed of vertical wood members 
glued to the reverse of the panel with slots for horizontal members (see fig. 41). Theoret- 
ically, the horizontal beams are supposed to move or slide, allowing the panel to react to 
changes in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, the system often does not work so well. The 
sliding members become stuck or frozen, and the panel cannot naturally expand and con- 
tract. Consequently, more damage to the painting may take place because of the treatment. 

Some panels were apparently so weakened by woodworm or rot that transferring was 
thought to be necessary. In this operation the paint and some of the ground layers are pulled 
away from the wood support and attached to a new backing. Correggio's Holy Family with 
the Infant Saint John^ c. 151 5, in the museum's collection, was transferred from wood to 
canvas. This is a drastic treatment that is rarely performed today because the process, we 
now fortunately realize, dramatically changes the appearance of the painting. Less-invasive 
treatments are usually available. 

Some of the changes that have taken place in the paints themselves have already been 
discussed. One of the most prevalent changes, the darkening of the azurite-containing paint 
films, as we have learned, can be the result of natural aging of the paint medium. But much 
of the deterioration of paint films is the result of improper care. For example, an almost 
universal affliction is abrasion from poor cleaning methods of earlier times. Though egg 
tempera makes a very tough paint film, it can be damaged by harsh substances that may 
have been used in early, nonprofessional cleanings. One victim of such a cleaning is the 
cloth of honor in the background of Luca di Tomme's Virgin and Child Enthroned with 
Saints Nicholas and Paul. This richly decorated cloth once had semitranslucent shading 
indicating folds and undulations of the cloth. Remnants of this deep reddish color can still 
be seen along the upper edges of the cloth. Probably a lake, the red shading may also have 
been affected by light, for lakes are often susceptible to fading. 

Gilding, whether by water or mordant, is very fragile. That is why it was so surprising 
to see the good state of the mordant gilding in the Christ on the Cross panel. In spite of the 
numerous ways paintings can be harmed, many have come down to us in remarkable states. 
Though this panel had been "lost" for years and uncared for, beneath its layers of old var- 
nish and grime the paints and gold remain in miraculous condition. 



1 Cennini i960. 

2 Merrifield 1849, vol. 2, 
325—600, and Strasburg 1966. 

3 Would-be painters learned the 
profession through apprentice- 
ship. Cennini admonishes the 
beginner to submit himself 

"to the direction of a master for 
instruction as early as you can; 
and do not leave the master until 
you have to" (Cennini i960, 3). 
Rules for apprenticeships — 
dealing with such things as 
duration, compensation, and 
who could take apprentices and 
how many — were controlled by 
the guilds. The guilds also con- 
trolled quality and materials. For 
a concise explanation of training 
and guilds, see Giotto to Diirer 
1991, 126. 

4 Magnification with the binocu- 
lar microscope or the polarized- 
light microscope helps to reveal 
information about ground, paint, 
and coatings. The more power- 
ful microscope can usefully 
magnify paint samples up to 
400X, so pigments can be identi- 
fied and paint and coating layers 
distinguished. Even more 
sophisticated equipment such as 
X-ray diffraction is used for pig- 
ment analysis. Other analytical 
techniques such as X-radiogra- 
phy, infrared photography and 
reflectography, and ultraviolet 
fluorescence can each add to our 
knowledge about a work of art. 
The use of these techniques and 
the results will be referred to 
throughout this text. For one of 
the most complete technical 
analyses of fourteenth-century 
painting, see London 1989. 

5 Ibid., 78. 

7 This is certainly true of panels 
made in Tuscany. In Venice ges- 
soing of the panel was finished 
before frame elements were 
appHed; see New York 1990, 19. 

8 London 1989, 16. 

9 Vasari i960, 212-15. 

10 Cennini i960, 86. 

11 Ibid., 85. 

12 Thompson 1956, 74-189. 

13 Wackernagel 1981, 327. 

14 Cennini i960, 24. 

15 Ibid. 

16 Ibid., 26-27; see also 
Gettens/Stout 1966, 123. 

17 Gettens/Stout 1966, 165-66. 

18 Verbal communication from 
Mario Modestini and Dianne 

19 Cennini i960, 36. 

20 According to the analysis by 
John Twilley using X-ray dif- 

21 Vasari 1966—84, vol. 3, 

22 Giotto to Diirer 1991, 197—204. 

23 Ibid. 

24 Cennini 1960,98-100. 

6 Gardner von Teuffel 1983, 

Two Altarpieces of the 
Early Renaissance 

931 the merchant prince and collector Samuel H. Kress presented a large altarpiece, 
a panel representing the Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints Nicholas and Paul by the 
fourteenth-century Sienese artist Luca di Tomme, to what was then the Los Angeles 
Museum of History, Science, and Art. This donation was greeted with much attention, 
for, as one headline proclaimed ("The Renaissance Begins in Los Angeles"), the Luca and 
a Madonna and Child later attributed to Mariotto di Nardo, the gift of Axel and Jacob A. 
Beskow a few months earlier, were the first Italian Renaissance paintings to be acquired 
by the young museumJ Shortly thereafter Kress sent out an exhibition of a personally 
selected group of Italian paintings to travel through America on a twenty-four cit)' tour 
from 1932 to 1935, at the height of the Great Depression (it was on view in Los Angeles 
from February 28 to April 15, 1934). The highly successful tour was responsible for creating 
a taste for Italian art and an understanding of its development among people who had no 
access to those few museums with comprehensive collections. At the same time Kress began 
an extraordinary program of donations, continued after his death in 1955 by the Kress 
Foundation administered by his brother Rush Kress, which enriched the collections of 
dozens of American regional and university museums, as well as the National Gallery, not 
only with paintings but with sculpture, furniture, tapestries, and other objects. 

More recendy in the history of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the generosity 
of the Ahmanson Foundation has made possible the acquisition of fifty- four masterpieces 
of European painting and sculpture trom the fifteenth to the nineteenth century.^ Three ot 
the eight Italian Renaissance paintings in this group are panel paintings from before 1500, 
and one of those presents a striking contrast to the altarpiece bv Luca di Tomme. In style 
and iconography Christ on the Cross with Saints Vincent Ferrer, John the Baptist, Mark, and 
Antoninus, attributed to the Master of the Fiesole Epiphany, is as Florentine as Luca's work 
is Sienese, and, besides the differences inherent in their geographical origins, more than 
a century of artistic development separates them. Yet there are similarities beyond the obvi- 
ous superficial facts that both are tabernacle altarpieces representing a holy figure flanked 


by saints. They both reflect earher images of the spiritual guardians of their respective 
cities: the Virgin Mary was the acknowledged queen of Siena, just as Christ was, quite liter- 
ally, the king of Florence — he had been elected to that honor in 1342 after the expulsion 
of the tyrannical duke of Athens so that no man could ever assume that title in authority 
over the city. 

In one case we know the artist but nothing of the early provenance of the altarpiece; 
in the other we have extensive contemporary documentary evidence of the early history of 
the painting, but we cannot yet identify the artist. Each panel demands an examination 
of the culture that produced it, and, in return for our efforts, each offers us further insights 
into those cultures. Thus, to consider together the earliest and the most recently acquired 
Renaissance altarpieces in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is to 
address many of the facets of panel painting in the early Renaissance. 


Luca di Tomme 

Virgin and Child Enthroned 
with Saints Nicholas and Paul 

FIGURE 34 (above) 
Virgin and Child Called 
"Madonna degli occhi grossi" 
(Madonna with the bulging 
eyes), Siena, early thirteenth 
century, tempera on panel, 
Museo deir Opera del Duomo, 

FIGURE 35 (facing page) 
Luca di Tomme (Siena, active 
1356-89), Virgin and Child 
Enthroned with Saints Nicholas 
and Paul, c. 1367/70, tempera on 
panel, Los Angeles County 
Museum of Art, gift of Samuel 
H. Kress (31.22). 
CAT. NO. 8 

On September 3, 1260, the citizens of Siena dedicated their city to the Virgin Mary; the 
next day they defeated the Florentines at the battle of Montaperti. Understandably, the 
thanksgiving generated by this perceived cause-and-effect led to an increased veneration 
of the Virgin and to the proliferation of her image in Siena. To be sure, the Virgin Mary is 
the most frequently depicted figure in Italian medieval and Renaissance art (indeed, in 
Christian art in general), but in Siena the amount and variety of Marian imagery is truly 
staggering. The image addressed by the citizens on the eve of the battle can still be seen in 
the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo: it is an early-thirteenth-century rectangular antependium 
known as the Madonna degli occhi grossi (Madonna with the bulging eyes; fig. 34). ^ 
In a visual tradition derived from Byzantine art, Mary sits on a cushioned bench in a strict 
frontal pose softened only by the decorative drapery folds of her skirt. In her lap sits her 
son, steadied by her hands beneath his foot and on his shoulder; his right hand is raised 
in blessing and his left hand clutches a scroll. The basic elements of this image were to be 
repeated for centuries; of most interest to us is the fact that they are repeated in Luca di 
Tomme's Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints Nicholas and Paul (fig. 35). 

Luca was one of the Sienese painters who came to prominence in the second half of 
the fourteenth century, after the epidemic of bubonic plague of 1347— 50 had decimated 
Europe. These artists will always dwell in the shadow of the elegant Simone Martini, who 
died in 1344, and the endlessly inventive Lorenzetti brothers, Ambrogio and Pietro, who 
probably fell victim to the plague, but it is unwarranted to say that the success of the later 
painters came about simply because the "great" artists of Siena were dead. The generation 
that emerged after mid-century had talent enough of their own and continued the proud 
tradition of Sienese art. A general attitude of fear and despondency, after the terror of 
the Black Death, pervaded every aspect of life, however, including artistic style and 
iconography, which became more conservative and orthodox. If the art is taken out of 
its context, it may seem as if the artists of the second half of the fourteenth century had 
regressed and negated the accomplishments of what has come to be regarded as a "golden 
age" of Sienese painting. 

The earliest recorded mention of Luca di Tomme is in 1356, when he was the third 
member to be enrolled in the painters' guild of Siena."* We know nothing of his formation. 
Giorgio Vasari's claim in 1550 that Luca was trained by Barna da Siena,^ although 


disputed by many, is not as unlikely as it seems: his early works display in their grace, 
substance, and composition the stylistic influence of both Barna and Pietro Lorenzetti. 
Indeed, in 1357 Luca was commissioned to restore a fresco of the Virgin originally painted 
by Pietro over the portal of the cathedral, which would suggest a knowledge of that 
master's style. 

Luca worked for a time, about 1362-66, with Niccolo di Ser Sozzo, and the hands of 
the two artists are sometimes difficult to distinguish in the works attributed to them. By the 
later 1360s Luca had developed an individual style and had reached a level of fame in his 
native city and elsewhere, judging by the importance of the commissions with which he was 
entrusted. He served as a city councillor in the 1370s and held other civic positions in the 
1380S. The last mention of him is in 1389, when he received a payment for an altarpiece 
for the cathedral in Siena, which he was painting with Bartolo di Fredi and the latter's son, 
Andrea di Bartolo. Paintings commissioned from Luca for other cities in Tuscany were 
influential on the style of local artists, especially in Lucca, Orvieto, and Pisa.^ 

In the center of Luca's rectangular panel is a large figure of the Virgin, turned slightly 
to her left, seated on a cushioned bench in front of an elaborately patterned cloth of honor 
that covers both the bench and the dais on which it is placed. Standing on her lap, supported 
by her hands, is the Christ Child, raising his right hand in blessing and grasping in his left 
hand the end of an unfurling scroll that reads Ego sum lux mundi (John 8:12: "I am the light 
of the world"). To the left is Saint Nicholas of Myra wearing a bishop's miter and cope and 
holding a crozier and three balls; to the right is Saint Paul with a sword and bound book. 

The Los Angeles panel was first attributed to Luca by F. Mason Perkins when it 
was in the collection of Charles Fairfax Murray in Florence; Perkins identified it as a work 
of Luca's "middle period."' This attribution was later reinforced by Roberto Longhi. 
Giuseppe Fiocco, Wilhelm Suida, and Adolfo Venturi.^ Longhi believed it to be one of the 
artist's most notable works, an opinion shared more recently by Licia Bertolini Campetti, 
and later called it one of the museum's most important Italian paintings.^ 

While Luca's early style was characterized by delicate poses, full modeling, and 
expressive charm (fig. 36), this panel is typical of his manner after 1366, after he ceased 
painting with Niccolo di Ser Sozzo and found his own expression, embodied by monu- 
mental, hieratic figures of enthroned Virgins and standing saints. He simplified, even 
schematized, poses and forms. His faces became solemn, often devoid ot emotion, possibly 
to create the effect of iconic majesty in the large-scale works and polyptychs he was now 
commissioned to produce. The scale of the figures in the Los Angeles painting is tN-pical 
of the later phase of Luca's work: they fully occupy the space of the panel. They are not as 
three-dimensional as those in his earlier paintings, but the lines and poses are graceful, 
reminiscent of the earlier, calligraphic contours of the work of Simone Martini and his fol- 
lowers — we have only to trace the meandering edge of Saint Paul's mande. The tilt of the 
Virgin's head and the raising of her left shoulder to accommodate the child's weight, creat- 
ing a diagonal of the neck of her tunic, lead our eyes to the child; these are distinctive 
features of Luca's Virgins. 



Luca di Tomme (Siena, active 
130—89), Virgin and Child 
Enthroned with Saints Louts of 
Toulouse and Michael and Angels^ 
c. 1356/61, tempera on panel, 
Los Angeles County Museum of 
Art, given anonymously (57.68). 
CAT. NO. 7 

Although the Virgin's azurite blue mantle has darkened with time and was covered at a 
later date by a thin layer of black paint, clearly incised lines suggest the fluid, graceful mod- 
eling that Luca built up by the application of different values of blue paint. It is unusual for 
an artist of this time to incise the surface of a panel with anything other than the most gen- 
eral contour lines, but Luca used this device for internal modeling in the robes of a number 
of his Virgins, including a small, earlier panel also in the collection of the Los Angeles 
County Museum of Art (fig. 36).''° Interestingly, the early-fourteenth-century technical 
manual by Cennino Cennini advises this procedure of incising for any area of a fresco 
to be covered with solid blue.''^ According to Vasari's account (see note 5), Luca had 
knowledge and experience of fresco techniques; the artist may have used incised 
lines in fresco work and adopted the practice for his panel paintings. 

The difference in scale between the Virgin and the two saints, her 
idealized, more broadly painted face, and the rectangular format suggest 
that Luca deliberately sought to evoke the holy images of earlier representa- 
tions. This is reinforced by his inclusion of the saints on the panel with the 
Virgin and Child, a practice that goes back to the earliest Christian art in 
both the eastern and western Church. Only in late medieval art were saints 
relegated to separate, flanking panels. 

In Luca's painting the Virgin is both the Regina Coeli^ the Queen of 
Heaven, by virtue of her throne, and the Theowhos, the God-bearer, in both 
senses of that term, as she bears the son she has borne. Profusely patterned 
cloths, like that behind her, appear in many of Luca's works and recall 
(although do not duplicate) the luxury silks both of the east and of local 
centers such as nearby Lucca. The scroll inscribed with this particular verse 
from the Gospel of John appears in the hands of six of Luca's infant Christs, 
beginning with a signed and dated altarpiece of 1362, painted with Niccolo 
di Ser Sozzo.^^ 

Saint Nicholas was misidentified as Augustine by Roberto Longhi 
while the painting was still in the possession of Samuel Kress (1929) and later (1936) as 
Martin of Tours by Giuseppe Fiocco; both saints are often represented in bishop's robes. ''^ 
Although the inscription below the figure is almost completely lost, it is clear from the three 
golden balls in his hand that this is Nicholas. In one of the most charming stories surround- 
ing the life of this popular saint, Nicholas saved the three daughters of an impoverished 
nobleman from a life of prostitution by anonymously throwing three golden balls 
(some variants say three purses of gold) through their window so that the girls would have 
dowries that allowed them to be honorably and suitably married.'"' It has been suggested 
that this story of gift giving is largely responsible for the conflation of Nicholas (whose 
feast day is December 6) and the Magi bringing gifts to the infant Jesus (January 6) into 
the familiar Christmas figure we know as Santa Claus-'^ 

Saint Paul is more easily recognizable: he had been depicted as the same physical type, 
dark-haired and balding, since the earliest Christian art, and he is never without a sword. 



the instrument of his martyrdom and the "sword of the Spirit," as he referred to the word 
of God (Ephesians 6:17). The presence of Paul prompted a speculation by Paul Wescher that 
this panel was the "tavola" (panel) mentioned in a document of 1373 that recorded a payment 
to Luca by the Consiglio Generale (General council) of Siena. ''^ The painting he executed 
commemorated the victory of Sienese forces in 1363 over a rapacious Breton mercenary 
company called the Cappellucci (Company of the hat), and the altarpiece was to honor Saint 
Paul, who had been named the patron of the expedition. That the victory would have waited 
ten years to be commemorated in this way is curious but not inexplicable. It was common for 
unemployed bands of soldiers to support themselves during peacetime by ravaging the coun- 
tryside they had once been paid to protect. For a large enough "ransom," however, they 
would move off, preferably into the territory of a rival state. Siena — indeed, most small 
cities without large standing armies — had been in the habit of paying off the troublesome 
bands unless they threatened the city itself. In 1363 the leader of the Sienese troops, the 
Roman cotidottiere Ceccola di Giordano degli Orsini, took it upon himself to mount an offen- 
sive against the Cappellucci without waiting for permission from the authorities (which he 
probably knew from past experience would not be forthcoming). His triumph received 
a mixed reaction: the Sienese were relieved to be rid of the mercenaries but furious that their 
authority had been flouted; Orsini received both a reward and a reprimand. It is unlikely 
that the government would have further celebrated the incident; the tavola mentioned in the 
document of 1373, however, was commissioned after a change of government. 

The identification of the Los Angeles panel as the so-called Saint Paul altarpiece was 
acknowledged as a possibility by Fern Rusk Shapley in her catalogue of the Kress Collection 
and was accepted by Cristina de Benedictis and Enzo Carli.^^ There are, unfortunately, not 
enough details in the document of 1373 to identify the Los Angeles painting as this work, 
and speculative evidence exists on both sides. The painting in the document is identified as 
a tavola (panel) rather than apala (an altarpiece made up of several attached elements); 
the Los Angeles painting is in fact a tavola. In an altarpiece honoring Saint Paul, however, 
we would expect to find him in the place of honor at the Virgin's right hand — that is, unless 
Nicholas had a more important role.''8 The latter saint might, for example, have been the 
patron of the unnamed church for which this altarpiece was destined: the Consiglio Generale 
of Siena had once before (1329) subsidized an altarpiece by Pietro Lorenzetti tor the 
Carmelite church of San Niccolo.^^ The saint might also conceivably have been someone's 
name saint; although Orsini's name "Ceccola" is most likely a nickname for Francesco, it 
might also be a dialect corruption of Niccolo. Sherwood Fehm pointed out that the payment 
of 105 gold florins recorded in the document of 1373 was very high; he suggested diat for this 
large a sum, plus the specific itemization of transportation costs, tlie Saint Paul altarpiece 
would have been larger than the Los Angeles panel. 2° It must be noted, however, that Luca 
was at the height of his popularity at this time and might have commanded a high price; he 
was also a member of the civic government either before or during the execution of the Saint 
Paul altarpiece, and a high fee might logically signify anything from a conflict ot interest 
(was he paying himself.'') to a demonstration of esteem from his fellow councillors. 



Workshop of Luca di Tomme 
(Siena, active 1356-89), 
The Conversion of Saint Paul 
(predella panel), c. 1380/90, 
tempera on panel, Seattle Art 
Museum, gift of the Samuel H. 
Kress Foundation. 

Although the circumstantial evidence does not eliminate the possibility, it is unlikely 
for stylistic reasons (see below) that the Los Angeles panel is the Saint Paul altarpiece; how- 
ever, Fehm's suggestion that the lost altarpiece is a polyptych of the Madonna and Child 
Enthroned with Saints John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, and Apollinaris, now in the Galleria 
Nazionale dell'Umbria, Perugia (inv. no. 947), is not convincing. ^^ 

The rectangular form of the Los Angeles altarpiece is unusual at this early date, but 
despite the fact that the panel has been cut down slightly on the sides and bottom, there is 
no indication that it ever had any other shape. ^^ Luca's composition clearly was planned 
to fit in a rectangular format. He may have meant to establish a link to the earliest, much- 
venerated images like the Madonna degli occhi grossi, which, being antependia (that is, for 
the base of an altar), were rectangular. It is certainly of interest that Pietro Lorenzetti's 
Carmelite Madonna, 1329 (see note 19), is also rectangular, except for slightly canted upper 
corners. This is only a minor example of several correspondences between the two altar- 
pieces; there are far more substantial reasons to see in Pietro's panel a possible model for 
Luca. Except for the presence of angels in the earlier painting the composition is the same, 

and in both works the use ot a rectangle 
allows an expansion of the usually con- 
stricted Gothic throne into a spacious 
bench with a wider-than-usual cloth of 
honor. Luca's Saint Nicholas is reminiscent 
of Pietro's and is in the same position. 
Finally, the depiction ot full-length figures 
of the Virgin and saints was extremely 
rare in Sienese painting before 1370; 
Luca's nearly consistent use of full-length 
figures can be traced back to Pietro's 
Carmelite Madonna.^^ 

Although many altarpieces of the time 
were polyptychs, there is no definite indica- 
tion, documentary or physical, that this 
panel had any other elements. Since the 
saints are included on the same panel as the 
Virgin and Child, wings were possible but 
not likely, given the size of the painting; the presence of a predella was more probable, but 
if it is extant, it has not been identified. There exist four sections of a predella by Luca illus- 
trating scenes from the life of Saint Paul: The Conversion of Saint Paul (fig. 37), Saint Paul 
Preaching, Saint Paul Led to His Martyrdom, and The Beheading of Saint Paul?-'^ When recon- 
structed, this predella would be too long a base for the Los Angeles panel. Stylistically, 
the lively figures, individualized faces, and vivid brushwork suggest a period later than 
the Los Angeles panel; perhaps it was once the predella of the lost or still unidentified 
Saint Paul altarpiece. 




Luca di Tomme (Siena, active 
1356-89), Virgin and Child with 
Saint Anne and Saints Catherine 
of Alexandria, John the Baptist, 
Anthony Abbot, and Agnes 
(altarpiece, probably from Santa 
Mustiola alia Rosa, Siena), 1 367, 
tempera on panel, Pinacoteca 
Nazionale, Siena. 

The Los Angeles panel has been dated to a period between 1370 and 1375, partly because 
a number of art historians believed the painting to be the Saint Paul altarpiece commissioned 
in 1373.25 It has also been compared stylistically to a signed and dated polyptych ot 1370 
from the convent ot San Domenico in Rieti, reinforcing a date after 1370.^^ The Los 
Angeles panel actually has far more affinity with an earlier signed and dated polyptych of 
1367 whose central panel depicts the Virgin and Child on the lap of Saint Anne (fig. 38). ^^ 
The similarities are extremely striking in the scale and poses ot the figures, drapery, facial 
coloring, and painterly treatment of features, hair, and beards of the saints, particularly 
those in the pinnacles. Though the figures in both the polyptych of 1367 and the Los 
Angeles panel are static in comparison with Luca's earlier works, the faces especially show 
a soft and subtle modeling that is far closer to his earlier style. I would thus suggest for 
the Los Angeles altarpiece a date before 1370 and probably closer to 1367. 

There are at least twenty-nine extant enthroned \'irgin and Child groups by Luca or his 
shop, not only from the so-called middle period, 1 366-73. but from the years before and after that 
span. 28 Only tour of these include the figures of saints on the panel with the Virgin and Child, 
and three of these are from Luca's earliest years. The fourth is also the onlv other rectangular 
composition of tlie Virgin and Child extant; it is a smaller panel, vertical radier dian horizontal in 
format, at the Yale University Art Gallery, depicting the endironed Virgin and Child with two 
angels and two patron saints of Siena. ^9 Although many authorities attribute the Yale panel to 
Luca, Charles Seymour and Sherwood Fehm believe it is either a collaboration with an assistant 
or a shop piece;30 in srvle, however, it seems to be from the same period as the Los .Angeles panel. 



1 The headline appeared on the 
cover ot the Los Angeles Aluseum 
An News Bulletin of May 1931- 
According to the saine issue the 
Madonna and Child presented by 
the Beskows (inv. no. 31.19) was 
at that time attributed to 
Giovanni Turini; it is no longer 
in the collection. 

2 Fifty-two of these works are 
catalogued in Conisbee/ 
Levkoff/Rand 1991. 

3 Van Os 1984, 10, fig. i; 
Burckhardt 1988, 43-44, pi. 27. 

4 The inost complete considera- 
tion of the life and art of Luca di 
Tomme, including transcriptions 
of contemporary documents, is 
to be found in Fehm 1986. 

5 Vasari 1966-84, vol. 2 (1967), 

6 See discussions of Luca's influ- 
ence in Van Marie 1923—36, vol. 
2 (1924), 466, and Pisa 1972, 9^. 

7 F. Mason Perkins, written 
communication in the files of the 
Kress Foundation, New York, 
and Perkins 1920, 292 n. 12. 

8 Written communications in 
the files ot the Kress Foundation. 

9 Roberto Longhi, written com- 
munication of 1929 in the files of 
the Kress Foundation; Longhi 
1954, 64; Bertolini Campetti in 
Pisa 1972, 95. 

10 Muller 1973, 15-16. 

11 Cennini i960, 54. 

12 Madonna and Child Enthroned 
with Saints John the Baptist, 
Thomas, Benedict, and Stephen, 

1 362, signed by Luca di Tomme 
and Niccolo di Ser Sozzo, a 
polyptych possibly from the con- 
vent of San Tommaso degli 
Umiliati, Siena, now in the 
Pinacoteca Nazionale of that city 
(inv. no. 51); see Fehm 1986, cat. 
nos. 11-13. 

13 Roberto Longhi's opinion of 
1929 and Giuseppe Fiocco's of 
1936 are in the files of the Kress 

14 This and other incidents from 
the life of Nicholas were 
recorded by the Dominican friar, 
later archbishop of Genoa, 
Jacopo da Voragine in his 
Legenda Aurea (Golden legend), 
c. 1275, a compilation of the oral 
and written traditions ot the lives 
ot Christ and the saints. For this 
story, see Voragine 1969, 17—18. 

15 Ferguson 1961, 136. The 
three golden balls were also 
appropriated by moneylenders as 
their symbol (Nicholas was their 
patron) and are thus used by 
pawnbrokers to this day. 

16 Wescher 1954, 11; the Latin 
and Italian texts of the document 
are published in Fehm 1986, 198, 
docs. i8a-b. 

17 Shapley 1966, 60, cat. no. 
K69; De Benedictis 1979, 87; 
Carli 19S1, 227. 

18 In fourteenth-century Siena 
the Virgin was always the central 
figure of an altarpiece, even if 
the altar was dedicated to 
another saint; see a discussion of 
the altars in the cathedral in Van 
Os 19 84, 79. 

19 Pietro Lorenzetti, Carmelite 
Madonna, now in the Pinacoteca 
Nazionale, Siena; Van Os 1984, 

20 Fehm 1970, 138; Fehm 1986, 

21 The altarpiece was formerly 
in the parish church in Forsivo, 
near Norcia; see Fehm 1986, 41, 
cat. no. 39. 

22 Roberto Longhi (Kress 
Foundation files) pointed out in 
1929 that it was noteworthy that 
the panel was not conceived as a 
triptych, even though F. Mason 
Perkins erroneously called it one 
in the same year (Perkins 1929, 
427). Sherwood Fehm noted that 
in his later phase Luca experi- 
mented with shapes of panels 
(Fehm 1986,2). 

23 For a discussion of the 
Carmelite Madonna, see Van Os 

24 The Conversion of Saint Paul, 
Seattle Art Museum (inv. no. It 
37/SP465.1); Saint Paul 
Preaching and Saint Paul Led to 
His Martyrdom, Pinacoteca 
Nazionale, Siena (inv. nos. 

1 1 7—18); and The Beheading of 
Saint Paul, Kereszteny Muzeum, 
Esztergom, Hungary (inv. no. 
55.156); Fehm 1986, cat. nos. 

25 Roberto Longhi suggested a 
date of 1375 (written communi- 
cation of 1929 in the files of the 
Kress Foundation); Burton 
Fredericksen felt the work could 
be earlier and suggested a range 
of 1370— 75 (entry ot c. 1970 in 
the files of the Los Angeles 
County Museum of Art). For 
other opinions, see the sources 
cited in note 17. 

26 Madonna and Child with 
Saints Dominic, Peter, Paul, and 
Peter Martyr, now in the Museo 
Civico, Rieti (inv. no. 2); Fehm 
1986, cat. no. 27. 

27 Madonna and Child with 
Saint Anne and Saints Catherine 
oj Alexandna, John the Baptist, 
Anthony Abbot, and Agnes, prob- 
ably from the church of Santa 
Mustiola alia Rosa, Siena, and 
now in the Pinacoteca Nazionale 
of that city (inv. no. 109); Fehm 
1986, cat. no. 22. 

28 Fehm 1986, cat. nos. 1,9-10, 
13-14, 22, 24, 27-28, 30, 32, 34- 
39. 45, 48-51, 55-57, 62-64, 67- 

29 Madonna and Child Enthroned 
with Saints Galganus [or Victor] 
and Ansanus, Yale University 
Art Gallery, New Haven (inv. 
no. 1943.245). The panel has 
been cut down at the bottom; the 
figures were originally full- 
length; Fehm 1986, cat. no. 55. 

30 Seymour 1970, 81-82; Fehm 
1986, 154 (with a summary of 
past attributions). 



Conservation Report 


The support tor the painting is a poplar panel composed of three planks set vertically. The 
central plank is 28% inches wide and the side planks are S'/i inches wide. The three planks 
are held together by two wooden butterflies at each join. In addition, glue would have been 
used in the joins. While the butterfly inserts are evident in the X-radiograph, no dowels 
were detected (fig. 39). 

The top edge of the panel is intact, but the other sides have been cut down. How much 
has been lost from the edges is difficult to determine with any certainty. The top edge 
retains the unprimed wood where the engaged frame would have been attached, and punch 
marks decorate the very edge of the gold ground (fig. 40). This same punchwork would 
surely have decorated the edge of the gold on the left and right sides. The unprimed wood 
is I inch wide and the decorative punching is y^ of an inch wide. 

The panel is now only % of an inch thick. Originally, it may have been as much as an 
inch or more thick, but at some time in its history it was thinned and cradled. As additional 
support the painting once had three horizontal battens, one each at the top, bottom, and 
center. The X-radiograph exposes holes (now filled) where the battens would have been 
attached to the main panel with nails. 

Undoubtedly, dismantling and cradling of the panel was undertaken in order to flatten 
the planks and mend cracks and joins. One large crack runs from the top of the Virgin's 
head down to her lap, but numerous smaller cracks exist. All of the damages to the support 
have caused some paint loss. The panel is also riddled with tunnels made by woodworm. 
These excavations can be seen in the X-radiograph. The infestation, which we can see was 
quite extensive, weakened the support considerably. 

The wooden butterflies holding the planks together have been sawn through. The reason 
this was done may be surmised. The joins were coming apart, and the butterfly reinforce- 
FiGURE 39 ments were the only elements holding the panels together. At the same time, the individual 

X-radiograph of Luca di Tomme, planks were bowing, and as a result the front or back of each plank was convex or concave. 

Virgin and Child Enthroned 

with Saints Nicholas and Paul ^^ would be much easier to thin and flatten each plank separately, especially since each plank 

c. 1367/70. of wood was reacting somewhat differently. Consequently, it was necessary to saw through 

the butterfly inserts to separate the three planks. 

The cradle that was attached to support the panel and to keep it flat and in one piece is rather 

heavy and constricting, minimizing any expansion or contraction of the wood (fig. 41). It is made 


Before treatment. 



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up of vertical members that have been glued to the reverse and horizontal members that slide 
through openings in the stationary members. Vertical members are clustered over joins and splits. 

The panel must have been coated with glue, as Cennini instructs in his treatise; no 
canvas over the panel could be detected, however. The ground is composed ot rw'O distinct 
layers, a lower, coarser layer corresponding to Cennini's gesso grosso and an upper, liner 
layer, o-ej-j-o sottile (fig. 42). 

The design was indicated with a black color and was subsequently incised. Some ot the 
drawing can be seen with the unaided eye, and infrared photography exposes much more 
(fig. 43). The hem of Saint Nicholas's robe was changed during the drawing state. It was first 
drawn about i Vi inches higher, and in fact two parallel lines, perhaps indicating a gilt 
border, are particularly visible in the infrared photograph. If one looks carefully even with 
the unaided eye at the Virgin's hands, slight differences between the drawing and the painting 
can be detected. For example, the thumb was slightly higher in the drawing than in the 
painting. The tips of some ot the fingers were shortened in the painted stage. 



Reverse of panel showing cradle. 






p r\ri mr.ri ^ 

R F y ■ " ' " 


5. ill i"^ 

MPPff' f 

b b k' b ^ b' 



Cross section, magnification of 
250X, showing blue layer, black 
underlayer, and ground from the 
Virgin's blue robe. 

Incised lines can be easily read in raking light. X-radiographs show the marks quite dis- 
tinctly. It is useful to compare the X-radiographs of both panels by Luca di Tomme in the 

collection (figs. 39, 44). The incised lines are very similar, 
and the Virgin's robes, particularly the proper right side, 
are closely related in design and stroke. 

Gold leaf was applied onto a reddish bole that carefully 
goes around the imagery along the top of the panel. The 
garment borders, the sword hilt, and the decoration on 
Saint Paul's book were laid in with bole before any painting 
began. The gold background has survived in remarkably 
good condition, but the gold on various garments and objects is almost entirely missing. 
It has been suggested that the gilding for the garments was applied with an oil mordant, 
which would have been slightly darker in tonality, though it could easily have been harmed 
by strong solvents that were probably used to remove varnish and dirt in the past (this 




Infrared photograph. 

possibility was suggested by Mario Modestini in conversation). Saint Nicholas's attribute, 
the balls of gold, also appears to be mordant gilding, but the gilding there remains largely 
intact. The blade of the sword that Saint Paul holds appears originally to have been silver 
leaf. Today this is almost all missing, and what remains is very badly corroded. 

Punchwork decorates the picture border along the top edge. It also delineates the fig- 
ures' halos and the borders of some of their clothes. The same punches have been used 
throughout: quatrefoils (two sizes), circles (three sizes), tiny pointed punches, and a slightly 
larger rounded punch. Halos are inscribed with a sharply pointed instrument (see fig. 30). 

Egg tempera paints have been applied in the traditional manner. Flesh has been under- 
painted with terre verte, which is more visible today because of abrasion of die flesh color on top. 

It is not unusual for a painting of this age to have suttered over time. One change 
that was discussed in the technical introduction to Italian panel painting (pp. 39-40) is the 



X-radiograph of Luca di 
Tomme, Virgin and Child 
Enthroned with Saints Louis of 
Toulouse and Michael atid Angels, 
c. 1356/61. 
CAT. NO. 7 

discoloration of the Virgin's robe. The construction of the robe is quite interesting. 
The bottom layer is black paint, and above that is a layer of paint containing mainly azu- 
rite. The azurite particles have remained blue, but it is the surrounding medium, now 
mixed with dirt and varnish, that has darkened (see fig. 42). Coupled with the fact that 
the azurite layer has been abraded, exposing the black underlayer to a greater degree, 
the robe is now almost entirely black to our unaided eyes. 

Overall, the surface paint has had its 
share of wear. The cloth of honor, a bright 
vermilion with decorative patterns of green 
and white outlined in black, was once 
glazed with what appears to be a red lake, 
which would have given the folds rich 
shadows. The crimson color is still visible 
along the upper part of the cloth. Similarly, 
garments have lost some of the darker 
shadows that would have given more form 
to folds and the body underneath. 

In figure 40, which shows the painting 
before treatment, discolored restorations of 
paint loss can easily be discerned. These 
i^^^_ ^^^^ ^^^BH >1^^mL'|I discolored patches are located in the cloth 
|b|^K ^^^I ^^^^ '^HJI'I backdrop and in the garments of the two 
pPt89 £3i2£S ^' '^l^'-l'U saints. The names of the saints at left and 

right have been mostly lost. In fact, it is 
impossible to read the name of the saint on the left, who has been identified as Nicholas. 
The paint surface was covered with several discolored varnish layers (see fig. 40). 
The more recent layers could be easily removed with normal cleaning solvents. There 
were, however, residues nearer the paint surface that required more painstaking removal 
with stronger solvents or by mechanical means. 

In the recent conservation of the panel, losses of paint and gesso were filled with tradi- 
tional gesso. The fills were toned with watercolor and then glazed with resin colors. The 
technique used for the restoration of the losses is tratteggio. Developed in Italy, tratteggio 
uses primary and secondary colors applied in parallel lines to fill in losses. At a distance the 
colors are blended by our eyes, but up close the striations of paint become obvious. This 
type of restoration can be more or less visible. For this panel it was done so as to be almost 
unnoticeable. Finally, the painting was varnished with a natural resin to saturate colors so 
that they appear rich once again. 

■ ■■■ 



Master of the Fiesole Epiphany 

Christ on the Cross with Saints Vincent Ferrer^ 
John the Baptist^ Mark^ and Antoninus 


Master of the Fiesole Epiphany 
(Florence, active c. 1480-1500), 
Christ on the Cross with Saints 
Vincent Ferrer, John the Baptist, 
Mark, and Antoninus, c. 1491/95, 
tempera and possibly oil on 
panel, Los Angeles County 
Museum of Art, gift of the 
Ahmanson Foundation 

CAT. NO. 12 

The central image in this panel is not a Crucifixion (fig. 45). Although there is a cross, 
it is an elegant construction with trilobate terminals, in rich blue edged with gold, whose 
shaft disappears behind the body of Christ and does not reach the ground. The nail holes 
are clearly apparent in his hands, but the nails are not there to fix him to the cross. Instead, 
he hovers in front of it, seeming to balance gracefully on a sacramental chalice of gold and 
enamel, which in turn rests on a tiny cloud formation. Christ wears an imperial crown, 
a rich silk robe with borders and a belt of gold, jewels, and pearls, and silver shoes with 
a gold cross-shaped pattern. Behind him is a mandorla of light and angels. In the upper 
corners of the panel, at each end of the cross-arm, two angels take handfuls of flower petals 
from a supply in the laps of their tunics. 

Four saints flank the figure of Christ. At the left is the great preacher Vincent Ferrer 
in the habit of the Dominican Order, holding an illuminated manuscript depicting the 
Christ of the Last Judgment and inscribed with a shortened form of a verse from the Book 
of Revelation (14:7): "Fear God, for the hour of his judgment has come." In front ot him 
kneels John the Baptist, dressed in camel skins and a red cloak; he holds in his left hand 
a cross on a long staff and a scroll: "Behold the Lamb of God. Behold [him] who...." 

The older man kneeling on the other side of the cross may be identified by the lion and 
the act of writing in a book as Mark the Evangelist. The fourth figure, at far right, is 
Antoninus, former archbishop of Florence, wearing a Dominican habit and the narrow 
white pallium of his archiepiscopal oflice. On the ground around the figures are flower 
petals that have been scattered by the angels. A hilly landscape with a wide, meandering 
river extends into a mountainous distance. 

The panel probably would have been displayed as it is now, in a tabernacle frame of the 
type that is still extant on altarpieces in situ in Florence, especially in the church of Santo 
Spirito (see fig. 8 for another example). It is possible that there was a predella, in the form 
of painted scenes on the lower horizontal zone of the frame. The scenes depicted might have 
included episodes from the lives of the four saints or devotional scenes such as a Pieta.'' 

In the 1568 edition of the life of Cosimo Rosselli, Giorgio Vasari wrote of a panel 
painted by the artist for the chapel of the "tessitori di drappo" (cloth weavers) in the church 
of San Marco in Florence. It depicted "the Holy Cross in the middle, and on the sides 
Saint Mark, Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Antoninus, archbishop of Florence, and other 



Volto Santo, probably eleventh 
century, polycliromed wood, 
Lucca Cathedral. 


Vo/to Santo with added crown 

and robes. 

figures."^ Although Vasari's list of saints was neither complete nor completely correct, it has 
nearly always been accepted that the painting described is the altarpiece now attributed to 
the Master of the Fiesole Epiphany in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. -^ 

The altarpiece was commissioned by the silk weavers' guild — the tessitori di drappi 
serici — for whom the choice ot subject was significant. The silk weavers had come to 
Florence from Lucca, ^ where the most famous religious image was a much-venerated 
wooden crucifix known as the Volto Santo (Holy face), which had made the cathedral of 
Lucca a goal tor centuries of European pilgrims (fig. 46). Probably for the same reason 
the guild's confraternity was known as the Compagnia della Santa Croce (Companv of 
the Holy Cross). ^ 

As a central image the artist sought — in fact, must have been instructed by the terms 
of the contract — to replicate not only the Lucca Volto Santo but also the rich trappings ot 
the crown and jeweled robe with which the faithful adorned the wooden figure (fig. 47). 
The guild members no doubt appreciated the sumptuous quality of Christ's painted silk 
robe, the original ot which their guild brothers in Lucca had probably always supplied tor 
the wooden image. Perhaps the multicolored tringe at the hem served as a sample card for 
available colors of their luxury wares. In depicting the altered image the painter thus trans- 
formed the iconography ot the original crucifix, turning a suffering Christ into Christus 
Rex, Christ the King. 

The Volto Santo ot Lucca was, according to tradition, carved bv Nicodemus, an influ- 
ential Pharisee who defended Jesus and helped take his body down from tlie cross and 
prepare it for burial (John 3:1—10, 8:50—52, 19:39).^ As legend has it, Nicodemus meditated 
so long on the Crucifixion that he was divinelv enabled to carve the image ot Christ's face 
exactly as it appeared when he was on the cross; thus the image was included among those 
extremely revered icons known as acheiropoietic. or "not made bv hands. "^ There are 


several accounts of how the image miraculously made its way from the east, where it was in 
danger from the eighth-century iconoclasts, to the harbor of Luni, near Lucca, where it was 
supposedly discovered in the late eighth century. 

Judging by stylistic evidence, many art historians believe the wooden image now in the 
cathedral in Lucca to be a thirteenth-century copy of an earlier reliquary.^ The earliest 
extant painted reproduction of the Volto Santo dates from 1 134, and the written accounts of 
the crucifix are all from the twelfth century. Much visual and written evidence supports 
a date before the mid-eleventh century for the original figure. By 1050 Abbot Leofstan of 
Bury Saint Edmunds had brought back a "copy" (whether carved or painted is not speci- 
fied) of the Volto Santo from his pilgrimage to Lucca; in 1070 a hospice for pilgrims was 
being constructed in the city, suggesting that it had become an important pilgrimage desti- 
nation; and records indicate that the fame of the image had spread all over Europe by then: 
King William Rufus (ruled 1087-1 100), the successor in England to William the Conqueror, 
used to swear by the "holy face of Lucca. "^ The twelfth-century accounts, it must be 
pointed out, claim to repeat a history by Leobinus ot Lucca written earlier, possibly in the 
late eighth or early ninth century; it is thus possible that the current image was the replace- 
ment for a much older one. 

The imagery of the chalice under Christ's right foot in the Los Angeles altarpiece 
comes also from the Lucca Volto Santo. At least as far back as the thirteenth century a chal- 
ice was placed under the right foot of the wooden crucifix; some suggest it was put there for 
a functional purpose, to support a gold or silver shoe that for some reason, either miracu- 
lous or practical, kept falling off. As Clairece Black pointed out, however, it was unlikely 
that a sacred vessel would be employed for something that a nail would easily fix;''" for this 
reason, the presence of the chalice should rather be explained iconographically. From the 
ninth century onward, images of the Crucifixion often included a figure usually identified as 
the Church {Ecclesia) or, later, an angel who held a chalice below the spear wound on 
Christ's right side, collecting the water and blood that spurted from the wound; a later vari- 
ant developed in which the chalice itself was held or placed at the base of the cross. These 
representations all referred to the salvation in Christ's blood shed on the cross and con- 
sumed during the Eucharist.''^ In the case of the Los Angeles altarpiece the priest would 
have elevated the Host (the chalice was not elevated in the liturgy of this period) in front of 
the painted chalice, emphasizing the transubstantiation of the sacramental bread and wine 
into Christ's body and blood. 

Perhaps because of this iconographical feature, the painting was identified in a mid- 
nineteenth-century exhibition in Manchester as The Sacrifice of the Mass.^'^ It is unlikely that 
anyone in England would have associated the panel with an old wooden statue in what was 
then a seldom-visited Tuscan town. By 1893, however, the central image had been recog- 
nized as the Volto Santo of Lucca. ''^ 

While there is no difficulty in identifying Saint John the Baptist, the patron saint of 
Florence, by his appearance and attributes of cross and inscription (although Vasari 
recorded him as John the Evangelist), the other three saints proved less immediately 


recognizable. In the Solly sale of 1847 (cat. no. 12, Provenance) the saints were identified 
as Dominic, John the Baptist, Jerome, and Peter Martyr;^* this is understandable, given 
the fact that in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries art historians routinely 
assumed that all Dominican saints, despite their attributes, were the most prominent fig- 
ures of their order: Dominic himself, Thomas Aquinas, and Peter Martyr. ''^ By the time 
the panel was exhibited at Burlington House in London in 1875 Saint Antoninus had been 
recognized as "Antonio, Archbishop of Florence," and by 1893 all the saints were finally 
correctly identified. ''^ 

The confusion by some observers of Saint Mark with Saint Jerome was also understand- 
able, since they share the attributes of a lion and a book.'''' Jerome, however, is usually depicted in 
the garb either of a penitent or a cardinal. Mark, as the author of one ot the Gospels, is often 
shown, as he is here, in the act of writing (there is also an ancient tradition that he was the 
apostle Peter's secretary). Also, Mark has significance as the patron saint ot the church for 
which the altarpiece was commissioned, while Jerome has no obvious connection. 

■While the Dominican saints proved a puzzle to later viewers, few worshipers in San 
Marco would have mistaken Saint 'Vincent Ferrer or the Blessed Antoninus, whose rayed 
halo signifies that he had not been canonized when the painting was executed (a conven- 
tional halo was added after his canonization in 1523). If only by process of elimination 
Florentines would have known that the Dominicans represented here were not Dominic 
or Peter Martyr, who had a chapel or altar elsewhere in the church, or the great theologian 
Thomas Aquinas, to whom the altar next to that of the silk weavers' guild was dedicated. 

The Spaniard Vincent Ferrer (1350-1419) was extremely popular in northern Italy even 
though he probably never penetrated farther south or east than Lombardy. His frequent 
miracles of healing, his care of the sick, his conversion of many Jews and Moors, and his 
attempts to heal the schism in the papacy generated much admiration during his lifetime 
and a strong movement for his canonization after his death. Vincent believed that he was 
called to preach repentance — indeed, he believed himself to be the angel ot the Book ot 
Revelation — and his legendary sermons were usually on the subject ot the Last Judgment. 
In art, therefore, he is often shown pointing upward to a vision of the resurrected Christ or 
an angel blowing the last trumpet, and he often holds an open book with an inscription trom 
the Book of Revelation (14:7) that he had quoted in his sermons: "Fear God, and give glory 
to him, for the hour of his judgment is come." In the Los Angeles altarpiece Vincent's 
vision has been transformed into a manuscript illumination ot the Christ ot the Last 
Judgment seated on a throne and borne up by angelic trumpeters; on the right tolio ot the 
book Vincent displays to the viewer is a slightly condensed version ot the phrase trom the 
Book of Revelation. 

Antonio Pierozzi (1389-1459), a Florentine patrician by birth, established the monastery 
of San Marco in 1436 with fellow Observant Dominican monks from Fiesole, and as its 
prior, with the patronage of Cosimo de' Medici, turned it into a flourishing and powertul 
community. A frail, saintly, and learned man, the author of many theological and instruc- 
tional works, he was forced to accept the position of archbishop of Florence in 1446 by Pope 


Eugenius iv, who recognized his abilities as an administrator. Antoninus's conscientious 
pastoral work endeared him to his people, who used the diminutive form of his name 
("little Anthony"), by which he was canonized, and his judgment tliat money earned by the 
investment of capital was not subject to the proscription of usury certainly won him the 
loyalty of the merchants of his see. The cross-shaped strip, or pallium, which identifies him 
as an archbishop, is his only attribute besides the ubiquitous book, but he would have been 
easily recognizable to the worshipers in San Marco, having lived recently enough to be 
remembered by many of them. It should be assumed that his face is a true likeness, which, 
given his expression, was probably taken from his death mask. 

The angels surrounding the figure of Christ are of the highest ranks of the hierarchy of 
heaven: within the golden light of the mandorla are the six-winged seraphim and four- 
winged cherubim, who spend eternity in perpetual adoration ot God. Glimpses of these 
angelic courtiers were rarely accorded to humans, and their presence here emphasizes the 
miraculous nature of the vision. Appropriately closer to us are the lowest ot the nine angelic 
orders, the "ordinary" angels, depicted here scattering flowers, who come to earth to serve 
as God's messengers. 

The location in which Vasari saw the altarpiece was in fact not a "cappella" or chapel in 
the sense of a recessed space but the first altar along the left wall of the nave after the 
transept. This was not the panel's earliest location in the church, however. During the reno- 
vations carried out by the sculptor and architect Michelozzo from 1437 to 1442, at the 
expense of Cosimo de' Medici, a one-story wall was erected across the nave to separate 
areas for men and women. '•^ As an important Dominican foundation San Marco was pri- 
marily a preaching church; therefore, public participation in the liturgy was not appropriate, 
nor was sight of the high altar necessary (even the men in the front of the nave could see 
only a glimpse of it through a narrow opening into the monks' choir). What was required 
was space in which the faithful could assemble to hear the sermons. There were seats pro- 
vided in the women's section, where they could listen in comfort and without distraction. 

Documents record the presence of two altars on this half-wall facing the women's area 
of the nave: the altar of the Ricci family, dedicated to Saint Thomas Aquinas, was to the 
right of center, therefore the altar of the silk weavers must have been to the left (fig. 48). ''S 
Thus, after the Los Angeles altarpiece had been installed in the 1490s, it would have been 
one of two images immediately visible to any worshiper entering by the main doors ot the 
church. This would include not just Florentine women but anyone who entered the church 
when a sermon was not in progress or who came to pray at one ot the tour altars in the 
back of the nave. 

The position of this altar on the left of the nave, halfway down its length, is significant 
in itself — this was (and is) the exact location of the newly constructed freestanding taberna- 
cle (1482—84) by Matteo Civitali in Lucca Cathedral containing the Volto Santo; the site 
would thus have enormous resonance for the transplanted Lucchesi weavers. The unusual 
placement of both images, I believe, refers to the traditional site of the Crucifixion itselt: in 
the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, to which city many Florentines journeyed. 



Plan of the church of San Marco 
Florence, after renovations by 
Michelozzo in 1437—42 (by the 
author after M. Ferrara in 
Teubner 1979). 

A. Monks' choir and high altar 

B. Wall separating choir 
from nave 

c. Men's section of nave 

D. Low transverse wa. 

E. Women's section of nave 

F. Main entrance 

G. Altar of Saint Thomas Aquinas 
H. Probable original position 

of altar of the Holy Cross 
with altarpiece by the Master 
of the Fiesole Epiphany 
I. Later (and current) location 
of the altar of the Holy Cross 
after the renovations of 

the position of Golgotha is halfway down 
the nave on the left side (this positioning is 
obscured by the location of the current 
entrance in the left transept). 

The presence and postures of the saints 
depicted are of great importance in under- 
standing the message that was intended to be 
conveyed by this altarpiece. It is a message 
of repentance, very much in keeping with 
the penitential nature of the Dominican 
order itself, which advocated fasting, absti- 
nence, poverty, penance, public confession 
of faults, and the use of the discipline. 2° 
The order also had a special devotion to the 
crucified Christ and to his blood, as is 
expressed in the many images by Fra 
Angelico and others in the monastery of 
San Marco that depict a Dominican saint or 
monk kneeling at the base of the cross as 
Christ's blood flows down the shaft. 

Since one of the primary functions of 
the Dominicans was the spiritual direction 
of the lay population of the cities of Italy, it 
is appropriate that Vincent Ferrer serves 
here as the festaiuolo, the "master of cere- 
monies," who makes contact with the 
viewer in order to direct our attention to what is truly significant. Rather than pointing to 
Christ, which would be the usual duty oiafestaiuo/o, he holds up the manuscript that identi- 
fies him as the prophet of the Last Judgment, the preacher whose every sermon was an 
urgent call to repentance. It is likewise important to note that much of the theological writ- 
ing of Antoninus had to do with the sacrament of penance. ^^ In the composition the 
outstretched hands of Christ seem to rest over the heads of the two Dominicans as if in bene- 
diction of what they represent. And repentance is at the very heart of the message brought 
by John the Baptist as he prepared the way for the ministry of Christ. While Christ's open 
arms and benevolent gaze invite worshipers to come to him and partake of the sacrament 
that signifies salvation, it is John, Antoninus, and especially Vincent who remind them that 
only through acknowledgment of their sin and repentance are they worthy to do so. 

The Dominican reformer Savonarola (1452-1498), prior of the monastery of San 
Marco from 1491 to 1498, is popularly perceived as an enemy of art. His sermons demon- 
strate, however, that, in the words of Anthony Blunt, "though ^le] feared the evil effects 
which might come from the wrong kind of art, he had the greatest faith in the good which 


could be done by the right kind," and in one ot his sermons he declared that pictures in 
churches should be for the instruction of children and women. ^^ It thus cannot be a coinci- 
dence that this altarpiece appears in the women's section of the church of the monastery 
of which Savonarola himself was prior. The didactic character ot the altarpiece is surely 
heightened by its location. Marcia B. Hall noted that "the core of Savonarola's apostolate 
[was] Christ's sacrificial death to bring about our redemption through repentance. "^3 Given 
the strong penitential character of the painting and its stylistic elements, it is likely that it 
was commissioned during his priorate, 1491—98, and, given his awareness of the importance 
of art in the Florentine community,^'' it would not be unreasonable to suppose that he had 
a part in determining its iconography. 

The wall separating the men's and women's areas of the nave of the church of San 
Marco remained in place until renovations of 1563-65 (although it was temporarily removed 
in 1517 to accommodate the crowds who came to witness the visit of the Medici pope Leo x 
on the feast of the Epiphany); when the wall was finally taken down, the two altars were 
moved to the walls of the nave.^s From 1582 to 1589 the nave walls were rebuilt so that the 
altars were set into the uniform, evenly spaced aedicules that are still extant. By the autumn 
of 1 59 1 the silk weavers' guild had already entered into discussions with the artist Ludovico 
Cardi, known as Cigoli, who was working elsewhere in the church, to provide a new paint- 
ing for their altar.^s Given the horizontal format of the Los Angeles altarpiece, it would not 
have fit into the new, vertically oriented aedicule; this is probably what prompted the guild 
members to commission a more "modern" work. Cigoli's altarpiece, dated 1594 and depict- 
ing Heradius Carrying the Cross, is still in place in the church ot San Marco.^^ 

The Los Angeles altarpiece must have been taken down in 1582 or slighdy after that, 
when the renovation of the nave walls began. Presumably it was taken off the premises at 
that time: in 1684 Ferdinando Leopoldo del Migliore reported that the "panel by Cosimo 
Rosselli" could be seen in the guild's rooms near Santa Maria Nuova, and in 1736 
Sebastiano Loddi reported that it was still there. ^^ 

By the mid-nineteenth century the altarpiece was in England, where it passed through 
a series of private collections (see cat. no. 12, Provenance). In the later 193GS its English 
owner took it back to Italy to be installed in his villa in Mignano. Believed lost in the Allied 
bombing of 1943, the panel was discovered nearly fifty years later in a crate in the family's 
house in Switzerland; it had spent the war in a warehouse in Livorno, where it had been sent 
for safekeeping. 

Not one document mentioning the "altar of the Holy Cross" in San Marco provides the 
name of the artist. Although he was identified as Cosimo Rosselli by Vasari, this observa- 
tion was not made until after the 1550 edition, in fact, since Vasari mentions a "chapel" — 
a term that he also employed to designate altars against walls — it is clear he did not see the 
panel until after it was moved to the nave wall during the renovations of 1563-65. His attri- 
bution was no doubt based on hearsay, tradition, or his own observations on the style of the 
panel. He knew that Rosselli had worked in Lucca Cathedral, where he would have had 
ample opportunity to see the Volto Santo in situ — especially since he painted frescoes 



Master of the Fiesole Epiphany 
(Florence, active c. 1480—1500), 
Adoration of the Magi with Saints 
Paul, Francis, and John the 
Baptist, after 1487, tempera on 
panel, San Francesco, Fiesole. 

depicting Nicodemus carving the crucifix and its voyage to Italy^s — so it would have been 
a logical assumption. While there are some similarities of style between Rosselli and this 
painter, these similarities occur only in some works, such as the figure of Saint John the 
Baptist in an altarpiece from the monastery of the Annunziata in Florence. ^° The anony- 
mous painter is consistently finer than Rosselli, who, while achieving a more 
finished surface, often painted compositions in which beautiful and 
complex drapery folds dominate stiff and awkwardly propor- 
tioned figures. 

In 1967 Everett Fahy published a list of works he 
believed to be by the artist who painted an Adoration of the 
Magi with Saints Paul, Francis, and John the Baptist, now 
in the monastery church of San Francesco in Fiesole, and 
thus known as the Fiesole Epiphany (fig. 49).-^^ Anna 
Padoa Rizzo added more works to this list, including the 
Los Angeles altarpiece. ^^ LJ^g the latter panel, the Fiesole 
Epiphany, which came originally from the convent of the 
Murate in Florence, ^3 had previously been attributed to the 
school of Cosimo Rosselli. But while Rosselli's striking 
Adoration of the Child m the Barber Institute, Birmingham, 
probably served as a compositional model for the Fiesole 
composition, the style is quite different. 

The Master's style is characterized by strong contours 
and a bright, saturated palette, by compositions in which 
many elements are carefully arranged to achieve a balance, 
if not an outright symmetry. The figures are well-propor- 
tioned, the flesh and the underlying bone structure being finely modeled with light and 
shadow, the highlights of the flesh particularly showing a luminosity equal to the finest 
modeling by Domenico Ghirlandaio, as in the Funeral of Saint Francis (1483/86), in the 
Sassetti Chapel, Santa Trinita, Florence, and reminiscent of similar passages in the paintings 
of Sandro Botticelli and Filippino Lippi. The drapery is substantial, arranged in hea\y, 
rounded folds flattening onto the ground; there is often a distinctive oval arrangement 
of the folds over a knee or leg, as here over the right legs of Vincent Ferrer and John die 
Baptist. Many of the works have an extensive landscape featuring a meandering river or lake, 
gentle wooded hills, high outcroppings of rock, and mountains fading into the distance. 

The faces of the Master's saints and mortals are direct and individualized, many mani- 
festing a heavy-lidded intensity of expression, while the countenances of Christ, the Virgin, 
and their attendant angels are often idealized to the point of blandness. Mina Bacci referred 
to the face of Christ in the Los Angeles altarpiece as a "pale ghost" {smunta larva), but 
as she herself pointed out in reference to another image of the Volto Santo attributed to 
Piero di Cosimo, concessions must be made when an artist is reproducing a holy image that 
must be immediately recognizable to the viewer.^'* And to a worshiper of the late fifteenth 


century the formality of the Christus Rex imagery and the penitential message were balanced 
by the accessibility of the kindly face of Christ. 

Raimond van Marie attributed the Fiesole Epiphany to a follower of Domenico 
Ghirlandaio, Fra Guglielmo, a monk of the Gesuati who died in 1487, probably too early 
to have executed it, although his style has similarities.^^ While this provides no additional 
evidence for the identity of the Master of the Fiesole Epiphany, it does correctly locate him 
in the circle of Ghirlandaio. In fact, he seems to have been one of the artists employed to 
paint the lunettes of the Oratorio di San Martino dei Buonomini, Florence, which has been 
most convincingly identified as a project of the entire workshop, with Ghirlandaio direct- 
ing.36 In the Dream of Saint Martin, formerly given by some to Davide Ghirlandaio, the 
drapery, landscape, strong contours, and figural and facial types, especially the angels and 
Christ, seem to be by the same hand, perhaps a bit less experienced, of the Master of the 
Fiesole Epiphany?'^ 

Another work that may be closely associated in style with the Los Angeles panel and 
the Fiesole Epiphany is a Coronation of the Virgin, now in the Galleria dell'Accademia, 
Florence; this painting was published as recently as 1992 with an attribution to a follower 
of Cosimo Rosselli.38 Because of the presence of a beautifully observed giraffe in the left 
background of the Epiphany, Padoa Rizzo dated that panel after 1487, when the first giraffe 
arrived in Florence, and suggested a range of 1485-95 for the three works.39 Judging from 
the artist's increased facility of technique and composition, and a sophistication of style, 
I would judge the Los Angeles altarpiece to be the latest of the three, executed some years 
after the Epiphany. 

Fahy suggested that the Master of the Fiesole Epiphany might be Filippo di Giuliano, 
who for many years shared a workshop with Jacopo del Sellaio and is recorded in 1483 as 
working as part of Ghirlandaio's team on the decoration of the Sala dei Gigli in the Palazzo 
Vecchio.*" Unfortunately, no extant works can be attributed to Filippo, and since we have 
no indication of his style, there is no evidence to support this possibility. Although the 
angels in the Los Angeles altarpiece have an affinity with figures by Sellaio, we cannot 
assume that he and Filippo shared a style simply because they shared a space. 

There is a clear correspondence between the style of the Master of the Fiesole Epiphany 
and that ot the painter and miniaturist Gherardo di Giovanni del Fora (1445-1497). Indeed, 
Fahy ascribed the Los Angeles altarpiece to Gherardo when it was rediscovered,"^ and 
a small panel depicting Saints Sebastian and Roch auctioned in New York in 1993 as by the 
Master of the Fiesole Epiphany appeared soon after on the Italian art market attributed to 
Gherardo. "^2 He is sometimes called a follower of Ghirlandaio, although there is little docu- 
mentary evidence for his participation in Ghirlandaio's decorative campaigns. He was 
a gifted miniaturist who was also successful in large-scale works, many of which have been 
erroneously attributed to Cosimo Rosselli at one time or another.''^ 

Especially in the cases of the Fiesole Epiphany, the Coronation of the Virgin, and the 
Los Angeles altarpiece, it should be noted that the brilliant color, decorative compositional 
arrangement, and horror vacui of the panels are hallmarks of a manuscript illuminator. 



The Volto Santo oj Lucca, 
Tuscan, sixteenth century, pen 
and wash over black chalk, the 
Metropolitan Museum ot Art, 
New York, gift of Stefan 
Ehrenzweig, njCn. 

In Gherardo's Triumph of Chastity in the Galleria Sabauda, Turin, and Virgin Adoring the 
Child irom the Hertz Collection, now in the Galleria Nazionale, Rome, both of which 
include extensive landscapes, the trees and the distinctive strip of minutely observed plants 
in the foreground areas are identical to those elements in the Los Angeles altarpiece.** 

A work attributed to Gherardo that is particularly similar is an altarpiece depicting the 
Madonna and Child with Saints Francis, Louis of Toulouse, John the Baptist, and Mary Magdalen 
now in the Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence (inv. 1890, no. 9149). It is of unknown prove- 
nance but the saints suggest a Franciscan establishment in Florence. Although much of the 
lower part of the panel has been overpainted, making it impossible to see the original treat- 
ment of the drapery, similarities can be seen in the facial types and features, the hands, the 
method of shading flesh, a strong contour line, and even a similar, if less sumptuous, border 
on the robes of Louis of Toulouse. 

As Padoa Rizzo pointed out, many of the commissions 
of the Master of the Fiesole Epiphany can be linked to the 
Dominicans of San Marco. ''^ It is interesting to note that 
according to the tax rolls of 1480 Gherardo and his brother 
Monte were living in a house in the Piazza San Marco. *^ 
Vasari also mentioned that Gherardo painted a lunette, no 
longer identifiable, above an altar in San Marco.*' 

Many other images of the Volto Santo are known, from 
medieval crucifixes replicating the Lucca sculpture, to nine- 
teenth-century pilgrims' relics. Only a few of them are 
related in time and geography to the Los Angeles altar- 
piece. One of these is a problematic painting in the 
Szepmiiveszeti Mtizeum, Budapest, attributed to a number 
of artists and schools but most recently given to Piero di 
Cosimo-'ts Although Bacci mentions die "lost" altarpiece — 
which she accepts as a work by Piero's master, Cosimo 
Rosselli — and the Lucca frescoes by Rosselli as further evi- 
dence that the Budapest Volto Santo is by Piero, it is clear 
from the inclusion of the added "aureole" that the artist 
used the wooden image as his source and not the painting 
now in Los Angeles. .Another image ot this t\"pe is a six- 
teenth-century drawing in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv. no. 61.21 1), 
attributed to an anonymous Tuscan artist (fig. 50). 

A painting of the Volto Santo in the Misericordia, San Gimignano, depicts the image 
being adored by two kneeling, hooded penitents. Lisa Venturini attributes the work to 
Sebastiano Mainardi and dates it to the first decade of the sixteenth century.*^ The image 
lacks the aureole, and in face, hair, and jeweled robe is very close to die Los Angeles altar- 
piece, and thus may have been derived trom it. 


3. : 







Attributed to Filippino Lippi 
(Florence, c. 1457— 1504), A/yiiiV 
Representation of the Crucifixion 
with Saint John the Baptist and 
Another Saint, 1490s, ink and 
brown wash, with traces ot black 
chalk, on white paper, Galleria 
degli Uffizi, Gabinetto dei 
Disegni e Stampe, Florence. 

Far more closely related is a drawing in the Uffizi currently attributed to Filippino 
Lippi, but the nature of the relationship is still open to speculation (fig. 51).^° The drawing 
also depicts a crowned and robed Christ on a cross with trilobate terminals, which is here 
supported by two angels; the chalice is below his right foot, and he is adored by two kneel- 
ing saints, John the Baptist and an older bearded man with an open book. 
In the composition and the poses of the figures, the two representations are 
nearly identical, except, of course, for the elimination in the drawing of the 
other figures. The other differences are slight and in the details: Christ 
wears the triple tiara associated with the papacy, the bottom of the cross 
is visible, and the angels actually bear the crosspiece rather than hovering 
beside it. 

Several authorities, including Bernard Berenson and Alfred Scharf, 
suggested that this must be Lippi's sketch for a work, unexecuted or no 
longer extant, tor Lucca, since it is clearly a representation of the Volto 
Santo.^^ Unlike the painting attributed to Piero di Cosimo and the drawing 
in the Metropolitan Museum, however, it does not reproduce the aureole 
added behind the Lucca Volto Santo, and is thus more likely to be a sketch for, or a copy 
after, another image. And the presence of the patron saint of Florence in the place of honor 
eliminates the possibility that this was a commission for Lucca. 

All authorities date this drawing to the 1490s, which would immediately precede or 
coincide with the period in which the Los Angeles panel itself was executed, and it seems 
impossible that it had no connection with it. Padoa Rizzo suggested that it might have been 
drawn by an artist in Rosselli's circle, perhaps even as a trial piece tor the commission. ^^ 
This is only one of many possibilities. If the drawing preceded the painting, the drawing 
itself may be by the Master of the Fiesole Epiphany, whose painting style shares characteris- 
tics with that of Filippino. Or could Filippino initially have been considered for the 
commission, which was then carried out by another artist — in which case what might have 
been the working relationship between the two artists.'' 

The most finished area of the drawing is the left side ot a tabernacle trame, which fea- 
tures a channeled pilaster with an elegant Corinthian capital; the rest of the frame is also 
precisely indicated. Is this then perhaps a sketch to be submitted tor the approval ot a patron, 
not tor the altarpiece but for the trame in which the previously commissioned altarpiece would 
be displayed.'' The drawing of the figures is primarily an outline, as it a preexisting composi- 
tion was being sketched, perhaps from memory, to indicate the approximate composition. 




The author wishes to recognise 
with gratitude the faculty, staff, 
and students of the Yale Institute 
of Sacred Music, Worship and the 
Arts, whose interest in the iconog- 
raphy of the altarpiece by the 
Master of the Fiesole Epiphany 
encouraged her to probe more 
deeply into the circumstances of its 
creation and display. 

1 Francesco Pesellino's The 
Trinity with Saints Mamas, James 
the Great, Zeno, and Jerome (fig. 
8) has four small panels illustrat- 
ing a scene from the life of each 
of the four saints in the main 

2 Vasari 1966-84, vol. 3 (1971), 

3 Raimond van Marie was the 
only one who believed that the 
so-called Rosselli San Marco 
altarpiece could not be the same 
as that formerly in the Fuller 
Maitland collection, because the 
patron saint of the church was 
not present (Mark had been 
misidentified as Jerome) and the 
other saints did not correspond 
to Vasari's list; see Van Marie 
1923—36, vol. II (1929), 613-14 
n. 3. 

4 Teubner 1979, 269, doc. xxiv, 
no. 2. The silk workers from 
Lucca began to arrive in 
Florence in the early fourteenth 
century, after the conquering 
Florentines had imposed repres- 
sive laws on the Lucchesi tor the 
very purpose of undermining the 
silk industry there; see Staley 
1906, 216. 

5 Interestingly, it was unusual 
for the iconography of an altar- 
piece to be linked to the altar's 
dedication (see Wackernagel 
1981, 133); the painting over the 
altar dedicated to Saint Thomas 
Aquinas in the church of San 
Marco, for example, depicted the 
archangel Raphael. Here, how- 
ever, the theme was completely 

6 For the legend and iconogra- 
phy of the Volto Santo, see Black 
1941, 28—31; HauBherr 1962, 
132— 42; Lucca 1982; 
Agresti/ Chiusano /Amendola 

7 A variant of the story states 
that Nicodemus carved the 
figure from the impression of 
Christ's body on his burial 
shroud; see Schiller 1972, 144. 
The Volto Santo was considered 
the equal of four other famous 
acheiropoietic images of Christ, 
all of which were then preserved 
in Roman churches: the 
Mandylion of Edessa, a portrait 
supposedly sent by Christ to 
King Abgar v of Osrhoene (San 
Silvestro); the Sudarium, the veil 
used by a woman named 
Veronica to wipe the sweat from 
Christ's face as he carried his 
cross through Jerusalem (San 
Pietro); a portrait of the Virgin 
and Child thought to have been 
painted by Saint Luke (Sancta 
Sanctorum, San Giovanni in 
Laterano); and a portrait of 
Christ reputedly given by Saint 
Peter to Senator Pudens (Santa 

8 HauBherr 1962, 134, 136. 

9 Ibid., 140—41. 

1 1 Clairece Black discusses a 
type of early crucifix from Lucca 
with a base in the shape of a 
chalice; see Black 1941, 27-28, 
36. The veneration of the blood 
of Christ has always been closely 
connected with the Volto Santo, 
since it is itself a reliquary, once 
supposedly containing a vial of 
Christ's blood. This vial was 
said to have been given to the 
seaside town of Luni, where the 
image was discovered, in recom- 
pense for the crucifix being taken 
away to Lucca. According to 
another version of the story, the 
reliquary compartment in the 
Volto Santo contained part of the 
Crown of Thorns and other 
relics of Jesus's Passion inserted 
by Nicodemus himself; see 
Schiller 1972, 144. 

12 Manchester 1857, no. 68. 

13 London 1893-94, no. 71. 

14 G. F. ■\X'aagen further 
misidentified the saint at the far 

right as Saint Peter; Waagen 
1854, vol. 3,4. 

15 Zucker 1992, 184-85. 

16 London 1875, n°- '^'; 
London 1895—94, no. 71. The 
erroneous identifications of the 
saints were published in all 
editions of Crowe/Cavalcaselle, 
however (see cat. no. 12, 
Literature), and were thus 
repeated in the W. Fuller 
Maitland sale catalogue of 1922 
(see CAT. NO. 12, Provenance). 

17 Mark's lion is usually 
winged, since it is associated 
with one of the four winged 
creatures seen in visions by the 
prophet Ezekiel (1:5-14) and 
Saint John the Evangelist (Rev. 
4:6-8); here, however, only the 
lion's head is visible as he glares 
out from behind Mark's leg. 

18 In many monastic churches 
the monks' choir was at that time 
also separated from the nave by 
a wall in which there was only a 
narrow opening; for the trans- 
verse division of San Marco, see 
Teubner 1979, especially 264, 
doc. xii. 

19 Teubner 1979, 250, 264, 
doc. XII. 

20 The ultimate expression of 
Dominican iconography, in the 
so-called Spanish Chapel of 
Santa Maria Novella, puts repen- 
tance and the act of confession at 
the very center, both physical 
and spiritual, of the fresco 
known as The Triumph of the 
Church, c. 1366—68, by Andrea 
da Firenze. 

21 .Antoninus's Confessionale is a 
collection of three treatises, 
dating 1472-75, all of which deal 
with the sacrament of penance. 

22 Blunt 1962, 45; Wackernagel 
1981, 112. 

23 Hall 1990, 503. 

10 Black 1941, 31. 


24 Ibid., 495^5°3- P^nit^nt'^' 
iconography was, of course, not 
exclusive to the Dominicans, but 
it is interesting to note that one 
of the other great exemplars of 
this type, the so-called Pala delle 
convertite, painted by Botticelli 
for the Augustinian convent of 
Sant'Elisabetta delle Convertite, 
is dated by most authorities 

to the same span of time, c. 
1490/94. The painting (now 
in the Courtauld Institute 
Galleries, London) was created 
for a convent that housed 
reformed prostitutes and depicts 
the penitent Magdalen and Saint 
John the Baptist flanking a vision 
of the Trinity with Christ on the 
cross; see Lightbown 1978, vol. 
I, pi. 36; vol. 2, cat. no. B62. 

25 Teubner 1979, 265, doc. xiv; 
267, doc. xvin; 268, doc. xx. 

26 Padoa Rizzo 1989, 24, appen- 

27 San Miniato 1959, no. 13. 

28 Del Migliore 1684, 217, and 
Loddi 1736, 269, cited in 
Teubner 1979, 268, doc. xxi. 

29 Vasari 1966-84, vol. 3 

30 Cosimo Rosselli, Saints John 
the Baptist, Barbara, and 
Matthew, from the convent of 
the Santissima Annunziata, 
Florence, now in the Galleria 
dell'Accademia, Florence, inv. 
1890, no. 8635; Bonsanti 1992, 

31 Fahy 1967, 133-34; he added 
to the list in his dissertation of 
the following year, published in 
1976: Fahy 1976, 169-70. 

32 Padoa Rizzo T989, 17—22. 

33 Giglioli 1933, 171. 

34 Bacci 1966, 96-97. Another 
painted Volto Santo, a small 
panel of c. 1410 now in the 
Museo Home, Florence, has 
identically rendered features, 
including the double-pointed 
beard; see Meiss 1964, 38, fig. 43. 

35 Van Marie 1923 — 36, vol. 13 
(1931), 261-62; two saints 
ascribed by van Marie to Fra 
Guglielmo flanking the 
Assumption of the Virgin in a 
niche of the cloister of the 
Gesuati in Siena (fig. 179) are 
very similar to a fresco currendy 
attributed to the Master of the 
Fiesole Epiphany in the Oratorio 
di San Martino dei Buonomini, 
Florence; see Florence 1992—93, 
34, fig- 1- 

36 Rosselli Sassatelli del Turco 
1927-28, 617. 

37 Nicoletta Pons in Florence 

38 Inv. 1890, no. 490; Bonsanti 

39 Padoa Rizzo T9S9, 19. 

40 Gaye 1839-40, vol. 1 (1839), 
580; Fahy 1967, 133-34; Pons 
1991, 222-24. 

41 Letter of July 12, 1991; copy 
in the files of the Los Angeles 
County Museum of Art. 

42 Sotheby's, New York, May 
20, 1993, lot 10. 

43 Fahy 1967, 128, 131; Fahy 
1976, 1 13-25; Florence 1992—93, 
cat. no. 9.13. 

44 In 1947 Pietro Toesca noted 
that these paintings were by the 
same hand, an artist known at 
that time as the Master of the 
Triumph of Chastity; see Florence 
1992-93, cat. no. 9.13. Everett 
Fahy associated this artist with 
Gherardo di Giovanni in Fahy 
1967, 128-33; 5^^ ^15° Fahy 
1976, 113-25. 

45 Padoa Rizzo 1989, 21; she 
also provides the information 
that the Master's Coronation of 
the Virgin, now in the 
Accademia, was in the church of 
San Marco in the early nine- 
teenth century, although its 
original location is not known. 

46 Nicoletta Pons in Florence 
1992—93, 106. 

47 Vasari 1966-S4, vol. 3 
(1971), 473- 

48 Bacci 1966, 96-97, no. 42. 

49 I wish to thank Dr. Venturini 
for this information. 

50 The drawing is catalogued as 
"Mystic representation of the 
Crucifixion with Saint John the 
Baptist and another saint"; Petrioli 
Totani 1986, cat. no. 227 E. 

51 For a history of the attribu- 
tion and a summary of the 
literature, see Shoemaker 1975, 
cat. no. 88. 

52 Padoa Rizzo 1989, 20. 



Conservation Report 



Master of the Fiesole Epiphany, 
Christ on the Cross with Saints 
Vincent Ferrer, John the Baptist, 
Mark, and Antoninus, c. 1491/95, 
before treatment, with cleaning 
test on right edge. 

When the large akarpiece Christ on the Cross with Saints Vincent Ferrer, John the Baptist, 
Mark, and Antoninus came into the museum, it was almost impossible to see the image 
because of thick layers of discolored varnish and black grime (fig. 52). As many as five sur- 
face coatings separated by grime layers covered the panel. Examination of the painting with 
intense visible light, ultraviolet light, and infrared photography, however, gave a better idea 
of the condition. 

Ultraviolet light gave some information about the most recent restorations 
(done in about the last twenty years), such as the repaint along the join to the left 
of Christ (fig. 53). This newer restoration lay on top of the varnish layers, and thus 
in ultraviolet light it appeared dark against the fluorescing varnish. Earlier restora- 
tions were masked by the discolored varnish but were made visible by the infrared 

Infrared rays successfully penetrated the varnish layers and showed very few losses and 
restorations (fig. 54). Most of the repaint, which appears dark in the infrared photography, 
was concentrated along the top of the painting, but fortunately Christ's face was unscathed. 
In the infrared photograph the modeling of the visages could be read. These rays, outside 
the visible spectrum, even penetrated the tissue patches attached to the painting so that 
losses covered by the paper were visible. 

Solvents were tested along the right edge to determine solubility of the surface coat- 
ings. At the same time some paint was uncovered so that the condition could be checked 
directly. The heads of Saints Mark and Antoninus were found to be very well preserved. 
By the same operation it was learned that the delicate mordant gilding decorating the very 
surface of the paint was still largely intact. 

Cross sections, microscopic samples of paint embedded in a resin and polished to show 
the layer structure of the paint and varnish, confirmed the good condition of areas farther 
into the picture. One sample taken from the blue sky above Christ's proper left hand 
showed two layers of original blue paint (fig. 55). The uppermost original layer, pigmented 
by relatively large chunks of ultramarine, seemed to be fairly untouched by earlier cleaning 
campaigns. The same could be said about the green of the landscape: a cross section 
taken from the lower left of the painting showed two layers of green paint in a very good 
state (fig. 56). 



Ultraviolet photograph. 

The painting is supported by a wood panel made up ot approximately five planks. The 
panel has been thinned at some time in its history so tliat it is now only about i inch thick. Follow- 
ing the thinning of the wood, the panel was cradled (fig. 57). Why this panel was thinned and 
cradled is rather obvious to a conservator: joins between planks had opened, and cracks and 
splits had developed. In addition planks had bowed, as they still are today, but to a lesser degree. 

The panel's cradle was the cause of a number ot problems. This restricting skeleton ot 
wood held the panel perhaps too tightly, causing some paint to lift. So that the painting 
could be shipped safely from London to Los Angeles, the areas of lifting were covered with 
tissue paper and glue to hold the paint in place (see fig. 52). There was another problem 
with regard to this cradle: the horizontal and vertical members of the cradle are fairlv thin 
and consequently the cradle is too light for tlie panel. It is therefore necessary to handle the 
painting very carefully or else it will torque. 

On top ot the wood panel there are several layers of gesso, and in cross section one can 
see a distinction between the coarser and finer layers, i\\e gesso grosso and gesso sottile 



Infrared photograph. 

mentioned in Cennino Cennini's Illlbro delVane (see fig. 56). A layer of glue probably 
covers the panel, but this could not be determined from the cross sections, since only a part 
ot the earliest (that is, the first or lowest) layer of gesso could be extracted and nothing 
below that. No cloth covers the panel, a step that Cennini recommended for stabilizing 
a composite support. 

Infrared photography revealed an underdrawing on the white gesso ground that is partic- 
ularly visible in the drapes of Saints John the Baptist and Mark (see fig. 54). The material used 
for the underdrawing, probably charcoal, can be distinguished in one of the cross sections, 
that of the green in the landscape. It lies directly on top of the ground and appears as a dark 
hairline (see fig. 56). The drawing is not incised. 

From the same cross section we can see that a thin layer, which appears to be a natural 
resinlike material, covers the ground and drawing. This layer could be similar, or analo- 
gous, to a sizing layer to make the ground less absorbent. At the same time, this layer would 
isolate the drawing. Over the "size" there is a yellow pigmented layer with a proteinaceous 




Cross section from blue sky, 

magnification of 250X: 

A. Overpaint and varnish layers 

B. Blue (ultramarine 
and lead white) 

c. Blue underlayer (ultramarine 

and lead white) 
D. Ground 



Cross section from green of 

landscape, magnification of I'jox: 

A. Varnish layers 

B. Two green paint layers 
containing green earth and 
lead white 

D. Ground 

binding component. These two layers were found on all cross sections taken from various 
parts of the picture; therefore, this seems to be an overall treatment of the ground. (Richard 
Wolbers categorized the various coating layers using the following stains: triphenyl tetra- 
zolium chloride; rhodamine isothiocyanate; and rhodamine 123.) 

The painting of the figures followed 
the traditional manner as described by 
Cennini for egg tempera. The figure of 
Saint Antoninus, for example, was painted 
in strokes or hatching clearly visible even 
to the unaided eye. The flesh was under- 
painted with terre verte, now slightly more 
visible than it was originally. In contrast, 
the sky was very thickly painted, and 
hatching is not evident. Analysis by staining methods of the media used for the blue sky 
resulted in an interesting finding: the media for the sky seems to be egg tempera and oil. 
Whether or not these media are found in separate layers or mixed cannot be determined 
from the present analyses. 

While egg tempera was the medium of choice for the working up of the forms, glazes 
of oil may have been used to deepen shadows and create modeling more subtle than tem- 
pera could achieve. This appears to be most true for the angels' blue robes and tor the red 
robe of Saint Mark. The gray habits of the two Dominicans are actually less successfully 
modeled than those just noted. In fact, the gray garments of the monks are a bit abraded. 
Deep black tones were at some time worn from the gray underlayer. 

The pigments in the painting are not 
out of the ordinary, except for the fact that 
ultramarine was used for the expanse of the 
blue sky. Such an elaborate use of this pre- 
cious pigment would have been very costly. 
Two areas of the painting were partic- 
ularlv problematic with regard to the 
cleaning, and the solution of these problems 
required some discussion and analysis. The 
halo of Saint Antoninus was a muddy orange color set frontally, very unlike the halos of the 
other figures, which are disks made up of gold strips and dots set in perspective (fig. 58). 
Examination with magnification showed that there were gold rays emanating from behind 
Antoninus's head, underneath the crudely painted halo; and a cross section ot paint from 
the halo showed varnish and dirt layers present between the earlier rays and the later halo. 
Since Antoninus was not canonized until 1 523, it has been suggested that the halo was added 
after his canonization. The hastily applied paint of the halo almost totally obscured the 
golden rays, which denote someone who has been beatified. It is a great fortune that these 
wisps of gold, a part of the original painting, were not scraped a-way before repainting. 



Reverse of panel showing cradle. 

The Other problematic area of the picture was the upper part of the sky, which was 
broadly overpainted. Infrared photographs successfully showed some of this overpaint 
(see FIG. 54), but it was also identifiable when viewing with a warm intense light. The 
cross section from the sky (see fig. ^5) showed the thin blue-green restoration covering 
what appeared to be an intact layer of original paint. With cleaning it was found that some 
of the upper layer of original paint had been abraded, but the majority of the area was 
still intact. 

The painting was varnished at least four times, and below the varnish layer there is a 
layer of what has been analyzed as a polysaccharide of some sort. This is a rather odd find- 
ing, but a plant gum may have been applied overall to consolidate paint and perhaps to 
protect the paint film during the operation of cradling. Subsequent to the structural treat- 
ment, the coating may have been only partially removed or even just allowed to stay so that 
it would continue to hold any loose paint. Under normal viewing conditions this film 
appears grayish, and it was very difficult to remove. 




Detail, before cleaning, showing 

added halo of Antoninus. 

Prior to the application of the gum 
layers, the painting was probably cleaned. 
Some patches of an older surface coating 
lay below the gum layer. This would 
certainly suggest that the painting had 
been varnished previously, though not 
necessarily by the artist. 

After the painting was cleaned in the 
museum, it was given an isolating coat of 
thin varnish. Losses were filled with gesso 
and then toned with a water-based paint. 
A natural resin varnish was brushed 
onto the surface to saturate colors and even out the paints. Final inpainting was completed 
with resin colors so that the losses are not obvious and do not interfere with the viewing 
of the picture. 


Scientific Report 






Mineral pigments representative 
of those used in the fifteenth cen- 
tury and man-made verdigris. 






Conservation treatment of Italian panel paintings is attended by complications imposed by 
prior restorations and the aging of the painting materials, aging of both the original paints 
and those of restorers. Considerable effort is expended by conservators today to differentiate 
subsequent applications of paint from the original, often damaged and fragmentary, image. 
Obtaining as much advance information as possible about the nature of all materials to be 
encountered in the painting and their behavior toward the broad range of cleaning formula- 
tions available today is a highly important part of conservation practice. This approach has 
brought significant improvements to the restoration of paintings that help the practitioner 
to avoid the damaging effects associated with the limited range ot harsh materials available 
to an earlier age. Joseph Fronek has reported the observations made by conservators treat- 
ing the Christ on the Cross with a variety of visual and scientific examination aids. Here an 
account will be given of a related phase of work, the analysis of the materials of the artist 
and, in particular, the analysis ot the materials that posed difficulties during the conserva- 
tion treatment process. 

Conservation research work in support of such a treatment takes the form ot numerous 
chemical microanalyses, the results of which disclose the paint composition and lead to an 
interpretation of the alteration phenomena affecting the painting. A few of the many issues 
that arose during treatment of the tabernacle will serve to illustrate the nature ot this work. 







Copper resinate green from a 
fifteenth-century Spanish poly- 
chromed knight effigy in the 
museum's collection (M.49. 23.16) 
viewed at a magnification of Soox. 


Terre verte from the painting's 

landscape, magnification of Soox. 

The traditional use of mineral pigments throughout late antiquity and the medieval 
period had restricted the decorative palette to a small number of reliable materials (fig. 59). 
By the fifteenth century the use of thinly pigmented, oil-based paint layers (into which light 
penetrated deeply) was firmly established as a means of accentuating the illusion of depth. 
Semitransparent, man-made pigments came to be used for the richest of these glazes and 
often incorporated less-stable colorants such as the dyes that provide color in lake pigments 
(used here in the red robes of Saints Mark and John the Baptist) and a green substance 
called copper resinate. This latter material results from dissolving verdigris, copper corrosion 
produced in the presence of vinegar, into a resin similar to those used in the final varnishing 
of a painting. Copper resinate is capable of a beautiful gemlike transparency (fig. 60) but 
suffers from instability to light and to the harsh alkalis often used in the restoration of paint- 
ings centuries ago. Its deterioration takes the form of darkening to a reddish brown color 
that cannot be reversed. The great obscuring effect of the multiple layers of darkened varnish 
made it impossible to judge whether this pigment might be present in the tabernacle. If it 
were, extreme caution would be necessary to remove the darkened resin varnish without 
also removing this resin-containing colorant. 

Analysis of the pigments proceeded in concert with the cleaning. Techniques that 
measured the optical properties, chemical composition, and crystal structure of the green 
pigments^ demonstrated that the principal green pigment of the painting was a high-quality 
celadonite (fig. 61), a green marine clay known to the artists of the day as terre verte. 
Those areas of the painting that exhibited brown foliage, particularly the distant landscape 
beneath the figure of Christ, were observed to contain particles of brown "earth" pigments 
quite distinct from a degraded copper resinate. If copper resinate was used by the Master of 
the Fiesole Epiphany in this painting, neither it nor its degradation products have survived 
earlier cleanings. The stability of the terre verte toward the cleaning procedures ot today 
could be assured. 

Darker passages in the painting were so obscured by the discolored varnish that their 
color could not be discerned even under intense light. One such area was the cross, which 
was, oddly, indistinguishable in color from the black robe of Christ. In order to understand 







' ^ ■« 



Cross section of paint layers 
from the cross, magnification of 
8oox. Top to bottom: discolored 
varnish, ultramarine, azurite 
mixed with lead white, gesso. 


Azurite and lazurite (ultrama- 
rine) from the first and second 
layers of the cross, respectively. 
The color saturation of the ultra- 
marine particles varies from pale 
to dark, magnification of 8oox. 

the original color and to differentiate any possible overpaint, a sample was taken for cross- 
sectioning. The microscopic section revealed two distinctive layers of blue: the first paler 
and more reflective of light, the second deep blue and gemlike (fig. 62). Clearly the func- 
tion of the first is to reflect light through the second, while that of the second is to impart 
depth of color. 

The identities of the two blue pigments were established by the technique of polarized- 
light microscopy applied to the individual particles of pigment. In figure 63 the slightly 
green color of azurite, used with lead white in the first layer, is distinguished from the 
darker, bluer shade of the isotropic pigment ultramarine, used alone in the upper layer. In 
the same way, the identity of Prussian blue, a component of old restorations to the sky, was 
ascertained. In the cross the first layer is a continuation of the sky. Atop this the form of the 
cross was created by the much more costly and rare ultramarine with its enamel-like blue.^ 
Neither azurite nor ultramarine alone would have achieved the rich effect that the artist 
desired. This ultramarine example is of very high quality: deep in color, carefully freed of 
white impurities, and ground to a consistently coarse particle size, providing a saturated 

In addition to the differentiation of original materials from restorations there were 
complications to the cleaning process itself that led to further tests. After the removal of old 
varnishes with solvent formulations tailored to the characteristics of aged resin varnishes, a 
gray, insoluble residue remained in some areas, which was quite disfiguring (fig. 64). When 
this residue failed to respond to alternative cleaning measures, samples were taken from sev- 
eral areas for chemical analysis. The results disclosed that the residue contained a substantial 
quantity of inorganic material in the form of gypsum, a little calcium carbonate at some loca- 
tions, and a starchlike polysaccharide. None of these is soluble in the sort of materials used to 
remove aged varnish. Unfortunately the sort of solvents that would be effective in their 
removal were judged to pose unacceptable risks to the painting surface. This necessitated 
that the conservator undertake a much more laborious process of manual cleaning. 

The question of the origin of this residue remains with us. The polysaccharide may be 
a residue from a prior treatment, as has been postulated above by Joseph Fronek. Such an 


adhesive would have been an aqueous one; the consequent dampening, and 
others that may have occurred over the years, may have been instrumental 
in bringing the gypsum to the surface through the minute aging cracks 
in the paint. The ground, or gesso layer, applied to prepare the panel for 
painting, presents an abundant reservoir of this slightly soluble material. 
The residue alone may have been much less apparent following an earlier 
cleaning. Were it not for the presence ot grime bound in this residue today, 
it would be less apparent. 

Our investigation and the treatment of Christ on the Cross with Saints 
Vincent Ferrer, John the Baptist, Mark, and Antoninus have revealed a master 
of fifteenth-century painting technique working with exceptional materials 
and in full command ot their potential. 


Detail, during cleaning, showing 

the intractable residue. 


1 Polarized-light microscopy, 
Fourier transform infrared spec- 
troscopy, and X-ray diffraction, 

2 Ultramarine, isolated from the 
semiprecious stone lapis lazuli by 
a laborious process, was only 
available to European artists of" 
the time by trade with 
Afghanistan along the famous 
"Silk Route," which led ulti- 
mately to China. The 
commissioners of this painting 
(the Silk Guild) may be pre- 
sumed to have had excellent 
access to this route of commerce. 


Catalogue of 
Italian Panel Paintings 
of the Early Renaissance 
in the Collection 

Bartolo di Fredi 

SIENA, c^ 1330-1409/10 

The Angel of the 

Annunciation (pinnacle from 

the Coronation Altarpiece) 


Tempera on panel 

57.2 X 28.9 cm (22'/2 X 1 1 '/s in.) 

Mr. and Mrs. Allan C. Balch 




The Virgin Annunciate 

(pinnacle from the Coronation 



Tempera on panel 

57.2 X 28.6 cm (22/2 X 1 1'/i in.) 

Mr. and Mrs. Allan C. Balch 




Conservation Notes were written 
by Joseph Fronek, Virginia 
Rasmussen, and Shelley Svohoda. 

Bartolo di Fredi was one ot the most inno- 
vative of the generation of Sienese artists 
to come to prominence after the bubonic 
plague of 1348. Although the influence of 
his predecessors is clear in his work — 
particularly the grace of Simone Martini 
and the spatial acuity of the Lorenzetti 
brothers — he transformed his models with 
a novel use of strong color, attention to 
detail, imaginative, vivid compositions, 
and expressive faces. He was held in great 
regard in Siena, where he was elected to 
high political office and commissioned to 
execute major altarpieces and other impor- 
tant works in the city and the surrounding 
regions, including Montalcino, Pienza, 
San Gimignano, and Volterra. 

These small panels, which taken 
together depict the Annunciation of the 
incarnation of Christ by the archangel 
Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, are from 
a large altarpiece commissioned from 
Bartolo di Fredi for the church ot San 
Francesco in Montalcino, a hill town close 
to Siena. The altarpiece is dated 1388, but 
the commission might have been received 
as early as 1383 (Van Os 1985, 59). 
According to the reconstruction ot the 
altarpiece suggested by Gaudenz Freuler 
(1985, 25), the two panels ^\'ere the pinna- 
cles of wings illustrating scenes from the 
life of Mary that flanked a central image 
of the Coronation of the Virgin (now in 
the Museo Civico, Montalcino; the wings 
are in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena). 


Possibly Palazzo Saracini, Siena. 
Private collection, Russia. 
Edward Hutton, London. 
A. Gore. 
Knoedler's, London and 

New York, until 1927. 
Allan C. Balch, Los Angeles, 

Donated to the Los Angeles 

County Museum, 1944. 


Possibly exhibited in San Diego 

Los Angeles 1944, cat. nos. 1-2. 


Perkins 1927, 203-4. 
McKinney 1944a, 12. 
McKinney 1944b, 8, 10, pis. 7-8. 
Los Angeles 1945, 10. 
Bush 1947, 225, 258-61, 

figs. 65—66. 
Feinblatt [1948.'], 16-17, fig- '°- 
Wescher 1954, cat. no. 5. 
Bush 1963, 3-12, cover, figs. 3-4. 
Los Angeles 1965, 58-59. 
Berenson 1968, vol. i, 29. 
Carli 1972, 16 (erroneously 

identified as an Assumption). 
Fredericksen/Zeri 1972, 16, 

Mallory/Moran 1972, 14-15, 

figs. 3-4. 
Los Angeles 1977, 58. 
De Benedictis 1979, 80—81. 
Carli 1981, 238. 
Freuler 1985, 23, 26, figs. 4, 15. 
Van Os 1985, 59, 63, figs. 32-33. 
Los Angeles 1987, 15. 
Giinther 1993, 268. 
Harpring 1993, 102-3, '54, 

cat. no. 19. 

The figures of Gabriel and Mary are 
clearly based on the famous Annunciation 
of 1333 by Simone Martini (Galleria degli 
UfRzi, Florence), which in Bartolo's day 
was over the altar of Saint Ansanus in the 
cathedral of Siena. The reverent, courtly 
pose of the kneeling archangel, the appre- 
hensive, shrinking curve of the maiden, 
and the gestures of both figures are nearly 
identical, as are the faces of the two 
Virgins. Bartolo's bodies, however, seem 
more substantial under the draperies, and 
the decorative elements in his composi- 
tion — particularly the drapery folds and 
borders — are more subdued and less arbi- 
trary in their placement. Bartolo has 
continued a Sienese practice of depicting 
Gabriel with an olive branch rather than 
the more traditional lily, which was the 
symbol of the rival city of Florence. 

Conservation Notes 

The wood supports of The Angel of the 
Annunciation and The Virgin Annunciate 
measure approximately % of an inch thick. 
The frames are engaged and gilded. The 
panels have been cradled. In both works 
the design of the composition is laid in with 
incised lines, faintly visible around the out- 
side of the figures. The gilded background 
features a trefoil border oipastiglia, or 
raised gesso molding, decorated with deli- 
cate punchwork. The paint is estimated to 
be egg tempera, but glazes are also evident. 
Flesh is underpainted with terre verte, visi- 
ble in areas of shadow. The decoration of 
the wings and the garment of the angel as 
well as the bench cushion upon which the 
Virgin sits are developed with the tech- 
nique of sgraflito. The forms are outlined 
in black paint. The paintings are well pre- 
served, and while some abrasion is evident, 
the details of execution in the faces and the 
decorative patterns of the garments are 
intact. The Virgin's blue gown has dark- 
ened. The gold backgrounds reveal a 
degree of wear, as does the frame, vr 



Jacopo Bellini 

VENICE, C. 1400-1470/71 


Virgin and Child 

c. 1465 

Oil on panel 

69.7 X 47 cm {ijVk, X iSVi in.) 

Gift of the Ahmanson 


M. 85. 123 



In the roundels at upper left 

and right: 

M.p; 0.V 

(forMHTHP GEO, Mother 

of God) 

On Mary 's halo: 



(Hail Mary, full of grace, the 
Lord [is] with you) 

Jacopo Bellini is the literal or spiritual 
father of the great painters of Renaissance 
Venice, his sons Gentile and Giovanni, 
his son-in-law Andrea Mantegna, and, 
through Giovanni, Giorgione and Titian 
(Eisler 1989a). He received at least some 
of his training from the peripatetic Gentile 
da Fabriano, to whom he may have been 
apprenticed when the latter was in Venice 
in 1408-14; in 1423 he was recorded in 
Gentile's household in Florence. In Ferrara 
in 144 1 he bested Pisanello in a competition 
for the commission for the portrait of the 
ruler, Lionello d'Este. A probable meeting 
at the court of Mantua with architect and 

theoretician Leonbattista Alberti may have 
inspired Jacopo's many remarkable draw- 
ings, which display a rigorous investigation 
of one-point perspective and the situation 
of figures in space, as well as a fascination 
with nature and themes from antiquity. 
By 1452 Jacopo was back in \'enice, where 
he was awarded many public and private 
commissions. The few extant paintings by 
his hand (many of his early works are lost) 
show at first the influence of his master 
Gentile in their essentially Gothic emphasis 
on grace, linearity, and decorative surface, 
but his later works display an impressive 
grasp of natural form and depth of feeling. 



France, private collection. 
Sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, 
Monte Carlo, June 25, 1984, 

lot 3332. 
Piero Corsini, New York. 
Acquired by the Los Angeles 

County Museum of Art, 198'j. 


Boskovits 1985, 123 n. 25. 

Los Angeles Times, December 25, 

Burlington Magazine 128 

(March 1986): 244, fig. 66. 
Avenues to Art 1 , no. 3 

(April 1986): 19. 
New York Times, December 7, 

1986, sec. 2, I, 35. 
Los Angeles 1986, 6. 
Sutton 1986, 388, fig. 2. 
Christiansen 1987, 171, 174, 

176—77, nn. 39-40, 47, pi. V. 
Joannides 1987, 5, 20 n. 10, fig. 3. 
Los Angeles 1987, 16. 
Eisler 1989a, 69-70, 72, cover. 
Eisler 1989b, 46, 56, 298, 514, 

fig. 41. 
Conisbee/Levkoff/Rand 1991, 

cat. no. 38. 

Venetians frequently commissioned or 
purchased this type of devotional panel ot 
the Virgin and Child for their homes, as can 
be seen in views of interiors by contempo- 
rary artists such as Vittore Carpaccio. This 
lovely painting is an example of the range 
of influences on Jacopo and the other artists 
of early Renaissance Venice. Through 
trade and warfare Venice had always been 
in contact with Constantinople, and the 
heritage of Byzantine art can be seen in the 
blank background and the corner roundels 
in Greek identifying Mary as the Mother of 
God, reminiscent of eastern icons, as well 
as in the tenderness and slight melancholy 
shared by the prescient mother and child, 
a level of emotional content that was an 
important feature of later Byzantine paint- 
ings and mosaics. The sculptural quality 
and the poses of the figures, however, 
are related to contemporary Italian art, 
specifically to a group of relief sculptures 
executed around 1425 by Donatello 
(Conisbee/Levkoff/Rand 1991, 149—50, 
fig. 38a), which Jacopo must have seen 
while he was living in Florence. The date 
of the painting is in accord with a new 
period in Jacopo's career, distinguished by 
a richness and subtlety of color and form 
that would profoundly influence the work 
of his sons. 

Conservation Notes 

The panel is one piece of wood (Vi ot an 
inch thick, probably thinned) reinforced 
along the perimeter of the reverse with wood 
strips, which are later additions. Raised 
gesso on the left and right sides indicates 
that originally there was an engaged frame. 
The panel once had a strip added to the 
right side that was painted black to match 
the background, but the strip was removed 
before the painting came into the museum. 

The gilding of the halos appears to be 
oil mordant gilding. It was applied after the 
figures were painted. The paint is estimated 
to be egg tempera and oil. Certainly the 
thin translucent paint on the surface is oil, 
but the flesh appears to be applied with the 
egg tempera technique of hatching. 

There is overall abrasion, and the back- 
ground has been restored. There is a flame 
burn below the nose of the Virgin. JF 



Dario di Giovanni 

VENETO, C. 1420-BEFORE 1498 

Saint Bernardino of Siena 

c. 1470 

Tempera on panel 

179. 1 X 71.8 cm (joVi X 28'/4 in.) 

Gift of Dr. Rudolph Heinemann 




On either side of the figure's 



Dario di Giovanni was born in Pordenone 
and was a pupil of Francesco Squarcione in 
Padua, for whom he worked from 1440 to 
1446. Referred to in contemporary docu- 
ments as a "pictor vagabundus" (wandering 
painter), he spent his career in various 
towns and cities of northern Italy, particu- 
larly Treviso (hence his most common 
appellation of Dario da Treviso) and Asolo, 
where he probably worked for the exiled 
queen of Cyprus, Caterina Cornaro; in 
1456 he was called to the Doge's Palace in 
Venice, although his work there is lost. His 
painting shows the influence of Squarcione 's 
hard, linear style, but in composition, 
color, and figure type it is also reminiscent 
of the works of Venetians Jacopo Bellini 
and Antonio Vivarini. 



F. Kleinberger Galleries, 

New York, 1917-18. 
Sale, F. Kleinberger, New York, 

January 23, 1918, lot 78. 
Satinover Galleries, New York, 

Rudolph Heinemann, 

New York, until 1948. 
Donated to the Los Angeles 

County Museum, 1948. 


New York 1917, cat. no. 92. 


Valentiner 1948, 11-13, fig. i. 
Los Angeles 1950, 18, cat. no. 9. 
Longhi 1954, 64. 
Wescher 1954, cat. no. 13. 
Berenson 1957, vol. i, 73. 
Fredericksen/Zeri 1972, 63, 379, 

Los Angeles 1987, 33. 

Saint Bernardino (often, in English, 
Bernardine) was born to the noble 
Albizzeschi family in Siena in 1380; after 
nursing the sick during an outbreak of the 
plague, he joined the Franciscan Order in 
1402. He spent his subsequent years preach- 
ing lively and often humorous sermons, 
criticizing greed and improper behavior 
and encouraging peace among feuding 
nobles. Despite the largely illegible inscrip- 
tion in this painting, Bernardino is easily 
identified by the disk he holds in his hand, 
which bears a flaming sun and the initials 
yhs (later usually ihs)^ the so-called sacred 
monogram, originally an abbreviation of 
the name Jesus in Greek (not lesus Hominum 
Salvator^ "Jesus savior of men," as was 
later thought). It was Bernardino's habit to 
invite his listeners to venerate the mono- 
gram as a symbol of the person of Christ, 
a practice that was in the eyes of some 
church authorities an idolatrous heresy, for 
which he was tried (and acquitted). The 
three bishop's miters represent his three 
refusals of the episcopal sees of Siena, 
Ferrara, and Urbino. He was canonized 
soon after his death in 1444. 

This panel is possibly the left wing of 
an altarpiece, although individual figures 
of standing saints were also painted in this 
period, and it should be noted that the 
saint's attention is focused on the viewer 
and not toward a missing central element 
such as the Virgin and Child. Bernardino 
is depicted typically as a gaunt old man in 
a minimal, scrubby landscape suggesting the 
desert environment suitable to an ascetic. 

The figure is very close to that of the saint 
in an altarpiece on canvas by Dario for the 
church of San Bernardino in Bassano (now 
in the Museo Civico, Bassano del Grappa; 
Bassano 1978, cat. no. 12^), although the 
drapery of the Los Angeles panel is more 
stylized; both representations are related to 
a panel of about 1460 attributed to Jacopo 
and Gentile Bellini (private collection, 
New York; Christiansen 1987, 174-76, pi. 
vin). Although Burton Fredericksen and 
Federigo Zeri suggested that the Los Angeles 
painting might be by another artist of the 
Veneto, details of the composition seem to 
confirm the attribution to Dario. 

The use of raised areas of gesso cov- 
ered by gold leaf, as here for elements of 
the disk and the architectural framework, 
was more popular in the earlier part of the 
century and suggests that Dario's patrons, 
who lived in the smaller cities of northern 
Italy, preferred a conservative, more tradi- 
tional depiction of religious subject matter. 

Conservation Notes 

This painting has probably not been restored 
since the early part of the twentieth century. 
Since the background is abraded, it has 
been toned. The flesh and dress have sur- 
vived fairly well. The panel once had an 
engaged frame. The raised edges of gesso 
along the perimeter of the panel are intact. 
The panel has been cradled. JF 



Nice old di Pietro Gerini 

FLORENCE, ACTIVE 1368-1415/16 

Virgin and Child with 
Saints John the Baptist, 
Dominic, Peter, and Paul 


Tempera on panel 

81.3 X 49.5 cm (32 X ig'/z in.) 

Gift of Alexander M. and 

Florence E. Bing 



When this painting was acquired by the 
museum in 1947, it was attributed to 
Andrea di Giusto and thereafter given to 
an anonymous Florentine of the later 
fourteenth century. As a result of careful 
observation and research during a recent 
restoration, paintings conservator Shelley 
Svoboda noted the similarity of the panel 
to many works attributed to Niccolo di 
Pietro Gerini, to whom it is now attributed. 

Although Niccolo is traditionally 
thought to have studied with Taddeo Gaddi, 
documents suggest that he was apprenticed 
to Orcagna, which would explain his 

decade-long (1370—80) professional asso- 
ciation with Orcagna's youngest brother, 
Jacopo di Cione. Niccolo enrolled in the 
painters' guild of Florence as an indepen- 
dent master in 1368 and very soon received 
commissions for major altarpieces. He exe- 
cuted fresco cycles in Pisa and Prato as 
well as joining Gaddi in the fresco decora- 
tion of the enormous sacristy of Santa 
Croce in Florence. 

His style is related to that of the Cione 
family, particularly Jacopo, but his oeuvre 
is characterized by a distinctive figure 
type: elongated bodies posed in Gothic 
curves but enveloped by substantial drap- 
ery falling in natural folds often generated 
by the gestures of the figures themselves. 
The faces of the men are dark and gaunt, 
the women ot a more conventional loveli- 
ness. He also had a penchant for bright, 
unusual colors used in unexpected and 
striking combinations. 

Gerini's workshop produced a large 
number of altarpieces; in this he was 
assisted by Lorenzo di Niccolo — probably 
not his son, as previously thought, but 
a pupil — and other young painters. 

The saints in this small panel are easily 
identified by their clothing and attributes: 
the disheveled man in a skin tunic holding 
a reed cross is John the Baptist, patron 
saint of the city ot Florence; next to him in 
a Dominican habit and holding a lilv is 



Private collection, Rome, 

before 1920 until at least 1925. 

Private collection, France. 

Alexander and Florence Bing 
collection, New York, until 

Donated to the Los Angeles 
County Museum, 1947 
(as Andrea di Giusto). 

Vancouver 1953 

(as Andrea di Giusto). 


Van Marie 1925 — 36, vol. 9 

(1927), 244, 246, fig. 158 

(as Andrea di Giusto). 
Los Angeles 19^0, 18, cat. no. 7 

(as Andrea di Giusto). 
Longhi 19^4, 64. 
Wescher 1954, cat. no. 9 

(as Andrea di Giusto). 
Fredericksen/Zeri 1972, 218, 

317, 390,412-438,441.591 
(as Florentine). 
Los Angeles 1987, 104 
(as Florentine). 

Saint Dominic. On the other side of the 
Virgin and Child are the apostles Peter and 
Paul, often found together, the former 
identifiable by his keys ("of the kingdom"), 
the latter by his sword ("of the spirit"). 
Although we do not know the original 
location of this panel, we may surmise 
from the combination of saints that it was 
executed for a Dominican establishment 
in Florence, perhaps a chapel or altar dedi- 
cated to Peter and Paul in one of the city's 
churches. The cloth behind the standing 
saints is unusually elaborate in its figura- 
tion, including human figures rather than 
the more customary bird or animal motifs. 
The works attributed to Niccolo display 
subtle stylistic variations, which may be 
explained by the artist's development or the 
participation of one or more workshop 
artists. Among the group of paintings that 
may be assigned to the hand that executed 
the Los Angeles panel are representarions 
of the Virgin and Child with saints in the 
Baltimore Museum of Art, Denver Art 
Museum, and Philbrook Museum of Art, 
Tulsa; a predella panel of the Adoration of the 
Magi in the Gemaldegalerie, Berlin-Dahlem; 
and possibly a Madonna and Child Enthroned 
with Four Saints and the Crucifixion in the 
Yale University Art Gallery, currently 
attributed to the shop of Jacopo di Cione 
(Seymour 1970, cat. no. 29). The same hand 
appears in some larger works attributed to 
Jacopo, such as the Coronation of the Virgin 
in the National Gallery, London, suggesting 
that the Los Angeles panel was executed 
while Niccolo was working with Jacopo or 
shortly thereafter. 

Conservation Notes 

The structure ot this painting survives fairly 
intact preserved in its original size and 
format. The support of the painting is 
formed by two peg-joined, i V\b inches 
thick, vertically oriented wooden planks, 
upon which the engaged frame elements 
were added. Much of the frame has been 
redone, but the base is, for the most part, 
original. The sides and reverse of the panel 
were originally painted a terre-verte color. 

Fabric and a thick white gesso cover 
the panel. An underdrawing, visible in 
some areas to the unaided eye, outlines 
the forms and drapery folds. 

The gilding, over an orange bole, sur- 
vives remarkably well. Relatively tew and 
simple punches were used to create the elab- 
orate designs, a hexagonal punch being the 
most common. 

The paint appears to be tempera, oil, 
and resin. The elaborate designs of the floor 
and cloth ot honor were created by scrap- 
ing away white paint that had been applied 
over the gilding and then punching the 
exposed gold. A thick, orange-pigmented 
mordant was used to adhere gold detailing 
to the upper surface of the paint. The 
Virgin's robe is thinned and contains large 
losses. The panel's lower edge has been 
affected by what appears to be water damage. 

A recent treatment involved the reduc- 
tion of a thick, discolored varnish and 
darkened overpaint in addition to minor, 
local consolidation. A new varnish was 
applied, as was appropriate retouching, ss 



Silvestro dei Gherarducci 

FLORENCE, 1339-1399 

Virgin and Child 

Enthroned with Saints 

John the Baptist and 

John the Evangelist, 

Angels, and a Donor 

c. 1375/85 

Tempera on panel 

82.6 X 78.1 cm (32/2 X 30'/^ in.) 

Gift of the Samuel H. Kress 




At left, on the scroll held by 
John the Baptist: 

(Behold the lamb of God behold) 

At right center, on the scroll held 

by the Christ Child: 

[e]go sum lux 

(I am the light) 

At lower center, on the step below 

the throne: 



(Holy Mary mother of God pray 
for us) 

Silvestro dei Gherarducci entered the 
Camaldolite community of Santa Maria 
degU AngeH in Florence in 1347, at the age 
of eight, and became a monk in 1352; a year 
before his death he was elected prior of the 
monastery. He was highly regarded primar- 
ily as a painter of miniatures, some of which 
are preserved in codices from the sup- 
pressed monastery (now in the Biblioteca 
Laurenziana, Florence), but he also executed 
a number of larger paintings on panel. 
Stylistically he was in the circle of Orcagna, 
his brother Jacopo di Clone, and Giovanni 
del Biondo, to whom his work was some- 
times attributed. Gherarducci spent some 
time in Siena, where he was influenced by 
the more natural depiction of space that had 
been pioneered by the Lorenzetti brothers. 

Although the formula of the Virgin 
and Child seated among saints and angels 
is timeless, certain characteristics help to 
locate this work in time and place. The 
presence of John the Baptist in the place of 
honor on the Virgin's right is common in 
Florentine paintings, since he was the city's 
patron saint, and the size of the painting 
suggests that it served as the altarpiece for 
a subsidiary chapel or altar in a Florentine 
church. The other saint has no identifying 
attribute but is probably John the Evangelist, 
who is usually depicted as an older man 
with a book and is often paired with the 
Baptist. The latter exercises here his cus- 
tomary role offestaiuolo, the "master ot 
ceremonies" so loved by the Florentines, 



Contini Bonacossi, Florence, 

until 1937. 
Samuel H. Kress, New York, 

Donated to the Los Angeles 
County Museum, 1939 
(as Giovanni del Biondo). 


I. Magnin, Los Angeles/ 

San Francisco, 195 1. 
Vancouver 1953 

(as Giovanni del Biondo). 


Frankfurter 1939, 10 

(as Giovanni del Biondo). 
Feinblatt [1948.'], 19 

(as Giovanni del Biondo). 
Longhi 1954, 64. 
Shorri954, 33, 37, fig. 5 

Florence 5 (as Master of the 

Cionesque Humility). 
Wescher 1954, cat. no. 5 

(as Giovanni del Biondo). 
Levi d'Ancona 1957, 21-22. 
Berenson 1963, vol. i, 86 

(as Giovanni del Biondo). 
Shapley 1966, 38, cat. no. K1121, 

fig. 88 (as Florentine school, 

late fourteenth century). 
Fredericksen/Zeri 1972, 82, 314, 

Boskovits 1975, 69, 217 n. 91, 

424, fig. 78. 
Fremande 1975, fig. 396- 
Los Angeles 1987, 45. 

who by gesture, gaze, and written word 
calls the attention of the viewer to the most 
important element of the composition, 
here, the "lamb of God," the Christ Child. 
Jesus bestows a blessing on the kneeling 
donor, who according to a medieval con- 
vention is shown in a smaller scale, and the 
Virgin extends a graceful hand toward the 
kneeling man while looking out at the 
viewer, perhaps to call our attention to the 
individual whose generosity made the 
altarpiece possible. From his garb the 
donor appears to be a civic official of some 
stature; from the choice of saints it is likely 
that his name was Giovanni, but he has not 
been further identified. 

The heritage of Giotto and his follow- 
ers can be seen in the natural fall of drapery 
and the suggestion of substantial form 
beneath the cloth; the influence of the 
Clone and Giovanni del Biondo is clear in 
the grace and rich color, while the success- 
ful location of the figures in space confirms 
the artist's knowledge of a type of natural 
perspective developed by the Sienese. 
While the altarpiece was in the Kress 
Collection, it was attributed by various 
scholars to the Florentine school around 
1370/90; one artist specifically suggested 
was Giovanni del Biondo (or a follower). 
Mirella Levi d ' Ancona first attributed the 
panel to Gherarducci on the basis of its 
stylistic similarity to a group of his minia- 
tures. To be sure, it displays the bright 
colors and attention to decorative detail 
that are hallmarks of an illuminator. 

Conservation Notes 

The outer frame does not appear to be 
original, but the engaged, scalloped edges 
of the upper arch do seem consistent with 
the panel; they are created from shaped 
wooden pieces covered with gesso. The 
panel has been thinned and cradled. An 
aged split in the wood runs vertically 
through the Virgin's face; retouching in 
this area makes assessment of the original 
paint loss difficult. Canvas covers the 
panel's surface beneath the ground. The 
gilding remains quite intact. Sgraffito was 
used to decorate garments of the Virgin 
and the flanking angels as well as the cloth 
of honor. Deeper shadows of the robes 
were applied with glazes after the punching 
was done. With the exception of the glazes, 
the paint has the linear characteristic of egg 
tempera. Mordant gilding is present in all 
figures; in some areas the mordant is thick 
and pigmented and in others quite thin and 
transparent. There is abrasion in the areas 
of mordant gilding, the inscription of the 
foreground step, and the robe of the Virgin. 
The painting was surface-cleaned and 
revarnished in 1982. ss 



Luc a di Tomme 

SIENA, ACTIVE 1356-89 


Virgin and Child 
Enthroned with Saints 
Louis of Toulouse and 
Michael and Angels 

c. 1356/61 

Tempera on panel 

55.2 X 26.7 cm (21 'X X io'/2 in.) 

Given anonymously 



For a summary of the life ofLuca 
di Tomme and a discussion of his 
style, see pages 49-5o. 

Small panels of the Virgin and Child with 
saints were used tor private devotions in 
the home. Like an example by Luca of sim- 
ilar size in the Timken Art Gallery, San 
Diego (Timken 1983, cat. no. 19), this 
panel may have had wings, which would 
protect the painted surfaces when the 
owner was traveling. The patron would 
have selected saints for whom he or she had 
a special personal veneration, perhaps a 
name saint and a family patron. The young 
bishop saint on the left is Louis of 

Toulouse (1274— 1297), who was enor- 
mously popular in Italy. The great-nephew 
of Louis IX, the canonized king of France, 
the younger Louis renounced the throne of 
Naples and entered the Franciscan Order. 
Despite his desire for the simplicity of 
monastic life, he was consecrated bishop of 
Toulouse and is usually depicted in a sump- 
tuous, jeweled cope and miter decorated 
with the fleur-de-lis, as here in the border, 
symbolizing his royal French blood. The 
cro^-n he has rejected lies on the ground 



Rosenberg and Stiebel, 
New York, 1957. 

Donated to the Los Angeles 
County Museum, 1957 
(as Ambrogio Lorenzetti). 


Gazette des Beaux-Arts 5 5 

(January i960): supp. p. 30, 

fig. 103 (as Ambrogio 

Meiss 1963, 47-48, fig. 2. 
Los Angeles 1965, 57. 
Fehm 1970, 27-31, cat. no. i. 
Bolaffi 1972-76, vol. 7 (1975), 57. 
Fredericksen/Zeri 1972, 113, 

3>7, 355,4^4. 433. 59^- 
Fehm 1973, 14, 16, 18 — 22, 27 

n. 30, fig. 12. 
Muller 1973, 12—21, figs, i, 3 — 5. 
Fehm 1976, 348 n. 31. 
Zeri 1976, vol. i, 41. 
Fehm 1978, 159, 164 n. 17. 
De Benedictis 1979, 87, fig. 69. 
Maginnis 1980, 138 n. 32. 
Fehm 1986, 8-9, 14—15, 20—21, 

25, cat. no. I, pi. I. 
Los Angeles 1987, 61. 
London 1989—90, 12—14, fig- '• 

in front of him. The Archangel Michael, 
on the right, is represented in armor, the 
dragon under his feet a reference to his 
victorious campaign to expel Satan and his 
host from heaven (Michael's wings differ- 
entiate him from Saint George, who was 
also depicted in armor with a dragon). The 
blessing adult Christ in the roundel above, 
which calls to mind the multi-image large 
altarpieces of the period, provides another 
focus for the owner's devotions. 

At the time of its donation to the 
museum the panel was attributed to 
Ambrogio Lorenzetti; soon afterward 
(i960), Gertrude Coor-Achenbach 
identified it as a work of Luca di Tomme 
(museum files). Luca's early style, of which 
this is an important and well-known exam- 
ple, is noted for its delicacy and charm 
of expression and pose; the softness and 
naturalism contrasts with the more hieratic 
imagery of his later, larger altarpieces (see 
CAT. NO. 8 and fig. 35). 

Conservation Notes 

The support is a single piece of wood run- 
ning vertically. It is prepared with cloth 
and gesso. The panel has been thinned and 
cradled, and the present frame is a replace- 
ment of an original engaged one. The 
panel has been decorated with gold leaf 
(punched and incised), sgraffito, mordant 
gilding, and g\\dtA pastiglia. As in Luca's 
Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints 
Nicholas and Paul, the Virgin's robe was 
almost completely incised before painting. 
The paint film has been abraded somewhat 
overall; the Virgin's blue mantle has lost 
much of the modeling, and the gold has 
been abraded as well. Nevertheless, forms 
read fairly well, and some paint on top 
of the gold, indicating the draped throne, 
still exists, vr 



Luc a di Tomme 

SIENA, ACTIVE 1356-89 


Virgin and Child 
Enthroned with Saints 
Nicholas and Paul 

c. 1367/70 

Tempera on panel 

134 X 115. 3 cm (^2'/l X 45/4 in.) 

Gift of Samuel H. Kress 




On the scroll held by the 

Christ Child: 


(I am the light of the world) 
At lower left, beneath Nicholas: 


At lower right, beneath Paul: 
s. PAVLV... 
(St. Paul) 

For a summary of the life ofLuca 
di Tomme, a discussion of his 
style, and a detailed consideration 
oj this altarpiece, including conser- 
vation information, see pages 


Charles Fairfax Murray, 

Florence, by 1920 until 1929. 

Contini Bonacossi, Rome, 1930. 

Samuel H. Kress, New York, 

Donated to the Los Angeles 
County Museum, 1931. 


Los Angeles 1944, cat. no. 3. 
Claremont 1952-53. 
Long Beach 1956. 


Perkins 1920, 292 n. 12. 

Perkins 1929, 427. 

Los Angeles Museum Art News 

Bulletin, May 1931, n.p. 
Illustrated Daily News, 

May 13, 1931. 
Los Angeles Times, May 13, 193 1. 
Los Angeles Museum Art News 

Bulletin, June 1931, n.p. 
Antiquarian, June 193 1, 39- 
Califomia Arts and Architecture, 

June 1931, 8. 
Kress 1932-35, 5. 
Feinblatt i948[.^], 18. 
Longhi 1954, 64. 
Wescher 1954, cat. no. 4. 
Shaplev 1966, vol. 1, 60, fig. 153. 
Berenson 1968, vol. 1, 225. 
Fehm 1970, 37, 137-3S, no. 31. 
Fredericksen/Zeri 1972, 113, 

318, 435,438. 'i9i- 

Pisa 1972, 95. 
Fehm 1973, 31 n. 35. 
Muller 1973, 12, 15—16, 18- 

figs. 2. 7, 9- 
Fehm 1976, 348 n. 32. 
De Benedictis 1979, 87. 
Siena 1979, 78. 
Carli 1981, 22-, fig. 258. 
Fehm 1986,41-42, 120-21, 

cat. no. 33. 
Los Angeles 1987, 61. 


Follower of Mariotto di Nardo 


Virgin and Child with 

Saints Francis, John the 

Baptist, Catherine of 

Alexandria, and Anthony 


c. 1420 

Tempera on panel 

86.4 X 50.2 cm (34 X ig'/l in.) 

William Randolph Hearst 




Mariotto was the son of a stonecutter 
named Nardo di Cione, not to be confused 
with the painter of the same name. His 
style has elements of the work of the earlier 
masters Niccolo di Pietro Gerini and 
Spinello Aretino; one tradition is that he 
was trained by Niccolo's follower Lorenzo 
di Niccolo. Mariotto's paintings display 
intensity and compositional unity that were 
novel for the time; probably for this reason 
he rapidly became the most sought-after 
painter in late-fourteenth- and early-fif- 
teenth-century Florence. During his career 
he not only received commissions from 
important patrons in Tuscany but also 
was hired by the Malatesta rulers of Pesaro 

to decorate their palace. A number of his 
documented works are lost, but many 
others can be attributed to his hand. Later 
in his career his treatment of forms and 
surfaces became overly fussy and lacked 
the grace and elegance of the popular late 
Gothic painters such as Lorenzo Monaco; 
his last, very conservative works were exe- 
cuted primarily for provincial churches. 
Bernard Berenson (1930—31, 1300; 
1970, 122) attributed this small altarpiece to 
a follower or copyist of Mariotto. The type 
of the affectionate infant Christ reaching 
toward his smiling mother is very common 
in the artist's oeuvre, but this group does 
not seem to be copied from the pose of any 



extant autograph work; thus I beheve it is 
more hkely to have been executed by an 
assistant than a copyist. Hardness of con- 
tour, attenuation of figures, and excessive 
attention to surface detail — especially visi- 
ble here in the mantle of John the Baptist — 
are hallmarks of Mariotto's later style, but 
the male faces and figures are not as skill- 
fully rendered as in works by his hand. It is 
possible that the women, who display far 
more grace and mastery in their modeling 
than the men, are by another hand, perhaps 
that of Mariotto himself. 

The Virgin appears to be seated on the 
ground and thus, despite her grandeur 
of scale, may be identified as a Virgin of 
Humility, an image that became popular 
in northern Italy in the fourteenth century. 
In contrast to the many representations of 
the Virgin ensconced in an elaborate, often 
architectural, throne, this type celebrated her 
humility — to the medieval church the root 
of all virtues — and emphasized the mys- 
tery of the Incarnation, the willingness of 
Christ to humble himself to become human. 

Although John the Baptist is easily rec- 
ognized by his appearance and cross and 
the fourth-century princess-savant 
Catherine of Alexandria by the wheel on 
which she was tortured, the two monastic 
figures have been misidentified in past liter- 
ature. The plain brown robe slit to show 
a wound and the holes in the hands of the 
figure on the left easily identify him as 
Saint Francis of Assisi. The other monastic 
is the early desert hermit Anthony Abbot, 
who may be recognized by the tau cross 
he carries as a walking stick and by the 
creature to the lower right of the hem of his 
robe, which, although here resembling 
a frog, is meant to be the pig that tradition- 
ally accompanies him. The saints suggest 
that the panel was commissioned for a sub- 
sidiary altar in a Florentine Franciscan 
church or chapel; indeed, the humilirv of 
Christ was an important focus for the 
devotion of Francis and his followers. 



Achille De Clemente. 

Sale, American Art Association, 

New York, January i^, 1931, 

lot 495. 
William Randolph Hearst, 

Donated to the Los Angeles 

County Museum, 1948. 


Salmi 1909, 179. 
Berenson 1930—31, 1300, 1308. 
Los Angeles 1950, 17, cat. no. 3. 
Wescher 1954, cat. no. 6. 
Berenson 1970, 122, fig. 204. 
Fredericksen/Zeri 1972, 121, 

Los Angeles 1987, 64. 

Conservation Notes 

The panel is approximately i 'A inches thick 
and is constructed of two vertical planks 
glued together. Two lateral battens were 
once mounted to the back of the panel, 
fitted into channels cut into the wood, but 
these have since been removed. The upper 
half of the back of the panel displays exten- 
sive insect damage, and the whole of the 
back has been infused with wax. The bare 
wood around the front outer edges of the 
panel and raised gesso indicate there was 
once an engaged frame. Corners on either 
side indicate the shape of the small cornice 
pieces where the columns would have been 
attached. The present frame is a replacement. 

The panel was prepared first with 
pieces of cloth glued over sections of the 
join to reinforce it and cover any flaws in 
the wood. On top of this there is a rather 
thick gesso layer. Incised lines fixed the 
image onto the ground. A faint underdraw- 
ing can be seen. The paint layer was 

applied after the background was gilded. 
The medium is estimated to be egg tem- 
pera; however, there is also evidence of 
glazes. Certain details such as the decora- 
tive borders of the garments were rendered 
in shell gold. Discolored remnants of what 
may be an original surface coating, possibly 
glair, exist in some areas of the foreground. 

The paint was thinly applied, and, 
while generally well preserved, some abra- 
sion exists. The coarsely ground blue 
azurite paint film of the Virgin's robe has 
darkened considerably. There is a large loss 
in the cloudlike forms under the Virgin. 
Glazes, particularly in areas of red and pink 
color in the garments of Saints John the 
Baptist and Catherine, are largely missing, 
and the shell gold, except for the hem of the 
Virgin's gown, has deteriorated. The paint- 
ing was recently cleaned and restored. VR 



Mar lino di Bartolomeo 

SIENA, ACTIVE 1389-1434/35 


Coronation of the Virgin 

c. 1425 

Tempera on panel 

88.4 X C)6 cm (34"/i6 x 26 in.) 

William Randolph Hearst 




Martino was the son of the Sienese gold- 
smith Bartolomeo di Biagio. His first 
important works were executed outside his 
home city: miniatures in choir books in the 
cathedral in Lucca, after 1391, and a series 
of frescoes in San Giovanni Battista in 
Cascina, near Pisa, signed and dated 1398. 
He subsequently established himself in 
Pisa until 1405, and during his last few 
years there he collaborated with Giovanni 
di Pietro da Napoli on several altarpieces. 
When Martino returned to Siena he was 
given commissions in both the cathedral 
and the Palazzo Pubblico; he held a 
number of public offices and acquired 
a considerable amount of property. Besides 
his frescoes and panels, he is known to 
have applied polychrome decoration to 
many important wood sculptures, includ- 
ing an Annunciation group by Jacopo della 
Quercia. Although Martino's early style 

was dry, he seems to have been influenced 
by the realism and volumetric modeling of 
the paintings of Giovanni di Pietro and of 
the sculpture he painted. 

When the Coronation of the Virgin was 
acquired by the museum, it was surmounted 
by spandrels depicting worshiping angels; 
the Coronation panel had been expanded 
and an angel added at either side to accom- 
modate the spandrels. Despite the obvious 
differences in style and date between the 
two components, the pastiche was attrib- 
uted to the late-fourteenth-century 
Florentine Agnolo Gaddi. The spandrels 
were subsequently identified as the work 
of Ugolino di Nerio (see cat. no. 17), 
and in 19 5 5 the Coronation was attributed 
to Martino by Philip Pouncey (written 

Although scenes of the crowned Virgin, 
either alone or with Christ, are known 
from the sixth century, the theme of the 
Coronation itself, depicting Marv's glorifi- 
cation in heaven by her son after her death 
and assumption, did not occur in literature 
or art until the twelfth century. It was a 
common subject in the early Renaissance, 
sometimes as an independent image and 
sometimes as one part of a complex altar- 
piece. In this panel the dove of the Holy 
Spirit hovers as Jesus crowns his mother 
with the triple tiara usuallv associated with 
a pope or emperor. Both these associations 
may have resonance here: as Regina 
Coeli (Queen of heaven) Mary certainly 
deserved a crown as elaborate as that 



Private collection near Ludlow, 

England, until 194S. 
Sale, Christie's, London, 

May 28, 1948, lot 114 

(as Agnolo Gaddi). 
Mallett, London, 1948. 
William Randolph Hearst, 1949. 
Donated to the Los Angeles 

County Museum, 1949. 


Vancouver 1953. 

Riverside 1971. 

Santa Barbara 1980 — 81. 


Los Angeles 1950, 17, cat. no. 2 

(as Florentine). 
Wescher I9'i4, 9 (as a 

"minor Florentine master"). 
Coor-Achenbach 1955, 158 n. 24 

(as Florentine). 
Berenson 1968, vol. i, 246, 

pi. 439. 
Fredericksen/Zeri 1972, 91, 122, 

309, 592 (also attributed to 

Giovanni di Pietro da Napoli). 
Neri Lusanna 1981, 331, 338 

n- 17, 339-40 n- 19, fig. 18. 
Los Angeles 1987, 65. 

of any mortal emperor, and as the personi- 
fication of the Church she was hnked by 
the tiara to the head ot the Church on 
earth, the pope. It is usual for both Ciirist 
and the Virgin to wear elaborate mantles in 
the Coronation; here, the sumptuous cloth 
of honor is a backdrop for their plain robes, 
which may reflect the austerity of a monas- 
tic order for whose church the painting was 

Enrica Neri Lusanna cited an eighteenth- 
century Sienese manuscript by G. G. Carli 
describing an altarpiece, signed by Martino 
di Bartolomeo and dated 1425, in the church 
of Sant'Antonio in Fontebranda. The center 
of the altarpiece was a polychromed wood 
sculpture of the hermit saint Anthony 
Abbot (now in the church of San Domenico, 
Siena) by Francesco di Valdambrino, which 
had been painted by Martino. Above the 
niche containing the statue was a "bel 
Quadretto di Gesii Cristo, che corona la 
Vergine, con Angeli" (beautiful little paint- 
ing of Jesus Christ crowning the Virgin, 
with angels). Neri Lusanna proposed that 
this was the panel now in Los Angeles. The 
date of 1425 would put it later in Martino's 
career than had previously been thought — 
it had been compared with frescoes of 
1408 — but the artist's conservative style 
and compositions make difficult the dating 
of his work after he had returned from 
Pisa. The natural fall of the drapery and 
the skillful modeling of extremely three- 
dimensional forms with light and shadow, 
however, suggest an awareness of signifi- 
cant artistic developments in the second 
and third decades of the fifteenth century. 

Conservation Notes 

The panel is approximately i inch thick and 
composed of three vertical planks joined by 
dowels, which are visible in an X-radiograph 
(fig. 26). The panel was cut down; in fact, 
the shape of the arched top is slightly 
asymmetrical. The X-radiograph reveals 
that the upper corners have been removed, 
taking away some of the dowel on each 
side. The frame is a modern addition, con- 
sisting of wood strips nailed into the panel. 
The panel has a split through the central 
section and splits along one of the joins, 
which were repaired in a recent treatment. 

The panel was prepared with scraps of 
cloth glued over joins or imperfections, and 
a rather thin gesso layer was applied over 
this. The design of the composition was 
transferred to the panel using incised lines 
and then drawing. The background is 
gilded, and the halos of the figures are 
tooled with simple punched designs. The 
paint medium is estimated to be egg tem- 
pera. While most colors are well preserved, 
the blue dove representing the Holy Spirit 
has darkened and the violet of the Virgin's 
robe has faded. The pattern of background 
drapery was created using the technique of 
sgraffito, and although there is evidence of 
the use of glazes here, little of it remains. 

The painting received recent conserva- 
tion treatment to remove discolored 
varnish and old restorations, vr 



Master of the Bargello Judgment of Paris 



Virgin of Humility 

c. 1425 

Tempera on panel 

26.7 X 17. 1 cm (lo'/z X 6Va in.) 

Gift of Robert Lehman 

47.11. 1 


This painting was originally attributed to 
the so-called Master of the Innocenti 
Coronation (later called the Master of the 
Straus Madonna), a follower of Lorenzo 
Monaco active in Florence around 1430—40. 
In 1954 Roberto Longhi reattributed the 
panel to the Master of the BargeWo Judgment 
of Paris, a northern Italian artist active in 
Tuscany; the artist is also known as the 
Master ot the Carrand Tondo, since the 
above-mentioned y^^i^'o'/ne/zr of Paris is a 
tondo in the Bargello's Collezione Carrand 
(Fremantle 1975, cat. no. 1270). An attempt 
to identify this artist as Cecchino da Verona, 
known to have been working in Siena in 
1452, has not produced sufficient evidence. 

The Virgin seated on a cushion on the 
ground emphasizes the humility of the 
young mother (see cat. no. 9); the star on 
the right shoulder of her mantle refers to 
her title Stella Maris (Star of the sea). Her 
elaborately dressed little son reaches up 
with his right arm to embrace her neck; in 
his left hand he clutches a goldfinch, a bird 
with complex associations. At the simplest 
level, the goldfinch was a favorite chil- 
dren's pet; it also svmbolized, as did anv 
bird, the soul released by death from its 
imprisonment in the body, a pagan symbol 
appropriated by the early Christians. 



H. Wendland estate, Paris. 
Robert Lehman, New York, 

until 1947. 
Donated to the Los Angeles 

County Museum, 1947. 


Long Beach 1956. 
Santa Ana 19^7-^8. 


Feinblatt [1948?], 20-21 

(as Master of the Innocenti 

Los Angeles 1950, 18, cat. no. 5 

(as Master of the Innocenti 

Longhi 1954, 64. 
Wescher 1954, cat. no. 1 1 

(as Master of the Innocenti 

Fredericksen/Zeri 1972, 126, 

Los Angeles 1987, 66. 

Finally, according to legend, a finch had 
swooped to pull a thorn from the brow of 
the crucified Christ and was splashed with 
a drop of his blood; from that day every 
finch bore this red spot. The appearance of 
the bird in the hand of the infant Christ thus 
served as a reminder of his inevitable Passion. 

Because of its small size and the 
absence of accompanying saints, this paint- 
ing may have been a "ready-made" panel 
produced without commission for the open 
market. In its execution, however, it is cer- 
tainly superior to the works of the so-called 
madonnieri, mediocre artists who turned out 
devotional images of the Virgin and Child 
for those not wealthy enough to commis- 
sion a master. The artist's grace and 
delicacy identifies him as a late proponent 
of the International Gothic style epitomized 
earlier in Florence by Lorenzo Monaco; the 
fluid, looping drapery folds and the method 
of highlighting are particularly close to 
Lorenzo's manner. Among the Master's 
contemporaries, he is closest to Masolino 
and Giovanni dal Ponte. A Virgin and Child 
Enthroned formerly in the collection of 
Samuel Courtauld, London, is by the same 
hand, and a Virgin and Child Enthroned with 
Saints Peter Martyr and Francis in the Fogg 
Art Museum, Harvard University, displays 
many stylistic similarities. 

Conservation Notes 

This panel is a vertically oriented plank of 
wood that has been cradled. The engaged 
frame is most probably not original. The 
panel itself remains in very good condition, 
as do the areas ot paint and gilding. The 
intricate designs in the background punch- 
work appear to be the result of two 
punching tools, one consisting of a single 
dot and the other a circle of six dots. The 
forms are inscribed where the paint abuts 
the gold ground. Some underdrawing is 
visible to the unaided eye, notably in the 
figure of Christ. The very linear paint 
application would appear to be consistent 
with egg tempera; it is exceptionally well 
preserved. Paint in the flesh areas remains 
thick, retaining its original three-dimen- 
sional modeling. Black line-work delineates 
the gilt cushion under the Virgin; this is 
lightly abraded. A thin area of paint loss 
exists along the lower edge. Fairly exten- 
sive and well-preserved mordant gilding 
details the garments of the figures; a thin 
and transparent mordant was used. The 
painting was cleaned in 1980. jf 



Master of the Fiesole Epiphany 

FLORENCE, ACTIVE c. 1480-1500 


Christ on the Cross with 
Saints Vincent Ferrer, 
John the Baptist, IVIark, 
and Antoninus 

c. 1491/9^ 

Tempera and possibly oil 

on panel 

1 86. 1 X 203.8 cm (73 '/4 X 8o'/4 in.) 

Gift of the Ahmanson 





On the booh held by Saint 

Vincent Ferrer: 

ti[m]ete devm qvia venit 

hora ivditij eivs. 

(Fear God, tor the hour of his 

judgment has come) 

On the scroll held by John 

the Baptist: 


(Behold the Lamb of God, 
behold [him] who...) 

For a detailed consideration of 
this altarpiece, especially its 
iconography and original location^ 
a dtscusston of the possible identity 
of the AJaster oj the Fiesole 
Epiphany, and conservation 
information, see pages 6j-SG. 


San Marco, Florence, 
until c. 1582. 

Compagnia della Santa Croce, 
parish of San Michele 
Bisdomini, Florence, until 
after 1736. 

Edward Solly; sale, 

Christie & Manson, London, 
May 8, 1847, lot 13. 

W. Fuller Maitland, 

Stansted House, Essex, by 
1854; sale, Christie, Manson & 
Woods, London, July 14, 
1922, lot 69 (1,650 guineas). 

Leopold Hirsch, London; 
sale, Christie, Manson & 
Woods, London, May 11, 
1934, lot 132 (280 guineas). 

J. Howard. 

Francis Howard, Mignano, 
by 1943. 

Private collection. 

Acquired by the Los Angeles 
County Museum of Art, 1991. 


Manchester 1857, no. 68. 
London 1875, "O- '^i- 
London 1893 — 94, no. 71. 


Del Migliore 1684, 217. 

Loddi 1736, 269. 

Richa 1754-62, vol. 7 (1758), 

Waagen 1854, vol. 3, 4. 
Crowe/Cavalcaselle 1864—66, 

vol. 2 (1864), 514. 
Vasari 1878-85, vol. 3, 187 n. 2. 
Crowe/Cavalcaselle 1903-14, 

vol. 4(1911). 370. 
Kiinstler-Lexikon 1 904 — 1 4, 

vol. 15 (1910), 184. 
Reinach 1905—23, vol. 1 (1905), 

no. 435. 
Vasari 1906, vol. 5, 187 n. 3. 
Crowe/Cavalcaselle 1908-9, 

vol. 2 (1909), 492. 
Crutwell 1908, 145. 
Kunstchronik 33 (1921-22), 780. 

Van Marie 1923 — 36, vol. 11 

(1929), 613-14 n. 3. 
Colnaghi [1928], 233. 
Art Prices Current, n.s. 1 3. .August 

1 93 3 -August 1934, no. 4840. 
Cartax 1934, 182, 184—85. 
Gronau 1935, 35. 
Paatz 1940-54, vol. 3 (1952). 

45, 80 n. 273. 
San Miniato 1959. 56. 
Bacci 1966, 97. 
Vasari 1966—84. vol. 3, 444. 
Pigler 1968. vol. i, 541- 
Shoemaker 19-5. 314. 
Benezit 1976, vol. 9, 100. 
Teubner 1979, 257 n. 56. 
Padoa Rizzo 1989, 1--24, fig. 1. 


Neri di Bicci 

FLORENCE, 1419-1492 


Virgin and Child 

Entlironed with Saints and 

the Annunciation (triptych) 

c. 1440/50 

Tempera on panel 

73.5 X 89 cm open (28'yi6 x 35 in.) 

Gift of Varya and Hans Cohn 

in honor of the museum's 

twenty-fitth anniversary 



Neri di Bicci, the son and grandson of 
painters Bicci di Lorenzo and Lorenzo di 
Bicci, was an enormously prolific artist in 
Florence in the third quarter of the fifteenth 
century. Trained at first by his father, Neri 
was most certainly influenced by Fra 
Angelico. Although art historians have also 
claimed to see the impact on Neri of the 
work of many of the major artists working 
in Florence at mid-century, Neri's style is 
actually quite distinctive and recognizable. 
At its best, as in this triptych, it is graceful, 
well drawn, and beautifully colored; it can 
also be unoriginal and awkward. The retar- 
dataire quality of his work is often noted, 
but it is clear from his many commissions 
and financial success that there was a large 
segment of the population that preferred 
religious paintings of a conservative type. 
Neri's Libro di ricordan^e (journal) for the 
years 1453—75, which preserves a wealth 
of information about an artist's life and 

practices, indicates, for example, that 
a surprising number of patrons requested 
a supposedly archaic gold ground. 

The Los Angeles triptych is small 
enough to have been easily portable; it 
could even be taken on journeys for its 
owner's private devotions. Although the 
floral decoration of the outer wings (see 
FIG. 7) was heavily repainted in the seven- 
teenth or eighteenth century, probably 
because of wear, the closed wings kept the 
interior surface in excellent condition. 

The Virgin and Child sit on a niche- 
like throne that demonstrates a knowledge 
of the classical vocabulary of early 
Renaissance architecture. The inverted 
scallop shell above the Virgin's head, fre- 
quently perceived as an attribute of Venus, 
was appropriated by humanists for the 
immaculately conceived Virgin and 
appeared in many paintings by Neri and 



other artists. The whole construction forms 
a canopy over the mother and child, a par- 
allel to the baldachin that would protect an 
altar and the consecrated host (the altar and 
host are symbols of Mary and Jesus, respec- 
tively). The Christ Child, holding a pear, 
emblematic of his love for the world, twists 
to look at Saint Lucy, a third-century Sicilian 
maiden carrying an oil lamp (her name is 
derived from the Latin lux\ "light"); her 
counterpart is the tourth-century princess 
Catherine of Alexandria with the iron- 
studded wheel on which she was to be 
tortured. Both young women lost their lives 
because they refused to give up their religion, 
thus they carry the palm of martyrdom. 

On the left wing are the desert hermit 
Anthony Abbot with his tau-cross walking 
stick and his little pig (see cat. no. 9) and 
the Franciscan preacher Bernardino of 
Siena with a disk inscribed with the mono- 
gram of Christ (see cat. no. 4). On the 
right wing is Lawrence, a third-century 

deacon martyred not so much for his faith 
as for his distribution of the wealth of the 
church to the poor instead of turning it 
over to the civil authorities. He can be rec- 
ognized by his dalmatic (the traditional 
vestment of the deacon) and the gridiron 
on which he was roasted to death. The 
saint at the far right has been previously 
mistaken for Paul or Proculus; his long 
sword, youth, and elegant dress identify 
him as Julian the Hospitaler, a wealthy 
young man who accidentally killed his par- 
ents and atoned for his sin by a lifetime of 
caring for travelers, particularly those who 
were ill or in trouble. 

The scene ot the Annunciation, here 
divided between the two wings, was often 
represented in a split format in altarpieces 
(see CAT. NOS. 1-2); the distance gave reso- 
nance to the concept of the Holy Spirit 
traveling from the Father to accomplish the 
conception of the Son. 



King Frederick William iv of 

Prussia (reigned 1840-61). 
Count Ingenheim, Silesia. 
Art market, Munich, c. 1925/26. 
A. S. Drey, New York, by 1932. 
Rosenberg and Stiebel, 

New York, until 1945. 
Varya and Hans Colin, 

Los Angeles, 1945—91. 
Donated to the Los Angeles 

County Museum of Art, 1991. 


Los Angeles County Museum 

of Art, 1957. 
Santa Barbara 1980 — 81, 

cat. no. 23, pi. VII. 
Los Angeles 1 990 — 9 1 . 


Van Marie 1923-36, vol. 10 

(1928), 543. 
Burrows 1931, 109, iii. 
Morsell 1932, 9. 
Drey 1933, 66—67. 
Die IVeltkunst, December 18, 

Cohn 1991, 310— II. 

The figure types, their grace and small 
scale, are reminiscent of the style of Neri's 
father, and this is certainly an early work. 
Neri painted several hundred small devo- 
tional paintings during his career, some of 
which were "ready-made" panels sent to 
dealers in Rome and the Marches. A small 
altarpiece with six saints, however, would 
certainly have been a commission from 
a specific patron who venerated those indi- 
viduals. Although it is not possible to 
determine for whom the triptych was 
painted, the saints on the right wing bear 
names very popular among the Medici 
family — in Italian, Lorenzo and Giuliano. 

Conservation Notes 

The condition of the triptych is very good, 
and the support has never been thinned. 
Each section is constructed of only one 
plank of wood; the central panel is sur- 
rounded with an engaged molding. The 
gold leaf, punched and inscribed, is in an 
excellent state. 

Paint layers have fared quite well. The 
azurite blue robe of the Virgin has been 
damaged, however, and the floor of each 
scene, a mixture containing green verditer, 
has turned brown. The dresses ot Saint 
Lucy and the Christ Child, primarily green 
verditer, are now dull. The disk held by 
Saint Bernardino of Siena has been much 
damaged. The cloth behind the Virgin was 
probably once glazed with color. The outer 
surface of the wings was later painted with 
a marble pattern, which covered the original 
floral design. This earlier design has been 
uncovered and restored. The painting 
itself was recently cleaned and restored. JF 



Paolo Venexiano 



Saint John the Baptist 


c. 1355/60 

Tempera on panel 

21 X 17.8 cm (8'/4 X 7 in.) 

Gift of Robert Lehman 



Paolo Veneziano is the founder of a dis- 
tinctly Venetian school of painting; his 
followers included his sons Luca and 
Giovanni and his pupil Lorenzo, to whom 
many of his works were once attributed. 
Paolo's earliest dated work is an altarpiece 
of 1333 for the church of San Lorenzo in 
Vicenza, and his latest is a Coronation of the 
Virgin of 1358, signed with his son 
Giovanni (Frick Collection, New York). 
In 1345 he and his sons painted an altar- 
piece depicting scenes from the life of 
Saint Mark as a ferial cover tor the Pala 
d'Oro, the spectacular gold altar in the 
basilica of San Marco, and he was also 
commissioned to execute an altarpiece, 
now lost, in the Doge's Palace. 

Several of Paolo's extant works are 
large, double- or triple-registered polyp- 
tychs with many full- or half-length figures 
of saints flanking a central image. This 
small panel is probably a fragment from 
one such dismanded and unknown polyp- 
tych. Even in a bust-length format John the 
Baptist is recognizable by his unkempt hair, 
untrimmed beard, and tunic of skins visible 
under his mande. Both the facial type and 
manner of painting demonstrate the extra- 
ordinarily strong influence in Venice ot 
Byzantine art. The punchwork in the 
halo — groups of three circles connected by 
fine, scrolling tendrils — is a hallmark of 
Paolo's workshop; the sinuous grace of this 
motif and the calligraphic energ}- ot the 
individual curls of hair are reminders ot the 
Gothic taste that gave Paolo's work a qual- 
ity distinct from much Italo-Byzantine an. 



Robert Lehman, New York, 

until 1947. 
Donated to the Los Angeles 

County Museum, 1947. 

Venturi 1945, 11. 
Feinblatt [1948?], 19 

(as Lorenzo Veneziano). 
Los Angeles 1950, 17, cat. no. Ai 

(as Lorenzo Veneziano). 
Di Carpegna 1951, 65 n. 7. 
Wescher 1954, cat. no. 2. 
Berenson 1957, vol. 1, 128, pi. 7. 
Pallucchini 1964, 51. 
Muraro 1970, 63, 113, fig. 44 

(as "workshop of 

Paolo da Venezia"). 
Fredericksen/Zeri 1972, 158, 

Los Angeles 1987, 75. 

John the Baptist is prominent among 
the saints in several of the artist's largest 
polyptychs, such as that in San Giacomo 
Maggiore, Bologna, and another in the 
Pinacoteca of San Severino, where he occu- 
pies a position close to the central image. 
The Los Angeles panel is most similar to 
the full-length figure of the Baptist in 
a group of four saints once attributed to 
Lorenzo, now in the Pinacoteca in Brescia, 
and to another full-length Baptist from 
a disassembled altarpiece, now in the Yale 
University Art Gallery. The face of Christ 
in the Frick Coronation of 1358 provides the 
closest stylistic similarities to the Los 
Angeles panel, a circumstance that suggests 
a date close to the end of Paolo's life. 

Conservation Notes 

This panel is a fragment from a larger 
composition. The wooden panel is split 
vertically with the grain direction, just left 
of the head. The upper-left corner has lost 
bole and gilding, exposing the gesso below. 
The gilding, which is fairly well preserved, 
carries delicate inscribed lines and punch- 
work for the halo. The paint survives well 
also and appears to be egg tempera. The 
robe is decorated with mordant gilding. 
The mordant for the gilding is quite thin 
and transparent, ss 



Bernardo Rosselli 

FLORENCE, 1450-1526 


The Triumph of Alexander 
the Great 

c. 1485 

Tempera on panel 

42.9 X 155.3 '^'Ti ( 1 6^8 X 61 14 in.) 

Phil Berg Collection 



This detached panel from a cassone, an 
elaborate linen or clothes chest that was 
a traditional betrothal or marriage gift in 
Renaissance Italy, has been attributed to 
several artists. Bernard Berenson (verbal 
communication) assigned it to a painter to 
whom he had given the name of Master of 
the Jarves Cassoni, referring to several 
similar panels in the collection of James 
Jackson Jarves, Florence (now in the Yale 
University Art Gallery), and suggested 
that the artist was in the workshop of 
Domenico Veneziano. Other art historians 
speculated that the Master might be 
identified with Apollonio di Giovanni, 
a Florentine artist who, with Marco del 
Buono, had a thriving workshop that spe- 
cialized in the production oi cassone and 
other decorative panels. Everett Fahy 
renamed him the Master of the Whittemore 
Madonna, after a work in the Fogg Art 
Museum, Harvard University, and later 
attributed much of the artist's work. 

including the Los Angeles panel, to 
Bernardo di Stefano Rosselli, one of the 
many Florentine artists trained in the 
workshop of Neri di Bicci. He was 
employed on the decoration of the Sala de' 
Signori in the Palazzo Vecchio between 
1488 and 1490. Whoever the artist, his was 
a hand suited tor such decorative painting: 
he lavished far more attention on the 
armor, costumes, and trappings than on the 
figures, their faces, or the landscape. 

The theme of the triumph was based 
on ancient Roman processions awarded to 
victorious generals. The artists of the fif- 
teenth century utilized the theme to flatter 
a contemporary ruler, praise a virtuous 
hero of the past, or, most popularly, present 
an allegory of such concepts as Love, 
Chastity, Fame, or Death, inspired by the 
fourteenth-centurv Th'on^ of the poet 
Petrarch. In composition many of these 
scenes are reminiscent ot Greek and Roman 



Harold I. Pratt, New York. 
Wildenstein & Company, 

New York, by 1947. 
Phil Berg, Los Angeles. 
Donated to the Los Angeles 

County Museum of Art, 1971 

(as Master of the Jarves 

Cassoni ). 


New York 1947, cat. no. 9 

(as Master of the Jarves 

Cassoni ). 
Los Angeles 1971, cat. no. 298 

(as Master of the Jarves 



New York Times, January 19, 1947. 

Los Angeles 1987, 68 

(as Master of the Whittemore 


relief carvings of processions; the Los 
Angeles panel is no exception: other than a 
column of soldiers coming from the left back- 
ground, the action is parallel to the picture 
plane and very much in the foreground. 

There are several cassone panels that 
illustrate the same scene as the Los Angeles 
panel: a procession of men and women on 
foot and on horseback, some wearing armor, 
others sumptuous clothing, headed by an 
altar with its sacred fire, followed by a 
statue of a winged deity, a man seated on 
a triumphal car in solitary splendor, and 
finally a cart in which most or all of the 
passengers are women. Fortunately, in the 
panel that was recorded in 1923 in the pos- 
session of Conte Carlo Cinughi of Siena 
(Schubring 1923, cat. nos. 158—59), the 
major elements bore inscriptions: the altar 
is SACRiFiciUM (sacrifice), the statue 
APPOLLO [sic], the distinguished older 
man dari rex (King Darius), and the two 
women MATER et usor dari (Mother and 
wife of Darius). Although there are three 
Persian kings named Darius, this one is 
probably Darius Kodomannos, who was 
defeated by Alexander the Great at the 
battle of Issus in 333 B.C.; the battle itself 
was a popular theme for cassone panels. 

While the Cinughi panel may depict 
the procession of Darius to the battlefield, 
the Los Angeles panel is considerably dif- 
ferent. The statue is not the lyre-playing 
Apollo, the solitary man is extremely 
young, and there are four women in the 
cart. This last element provides a clue: 

during the battle of Issus the wounded 
Darius fled the field, leaving his mother, 
wife, and two daughters to the mercy of 
the victor, who treated them with honor 
and courtesy, an incident that was often 
recounted as proof of Alexander's high 
moral principles. Although the Los 
Angeles panel has long been titled The 
Triumph of Darius, the scene is probably 
the triumph of the young Alexander, with 
his four noble hostages shown riding 
behind him in the elegance merited by their 
royal blood. Such scenes, however, were 
not meant to be historically accurate but to 
capture the color and magnificence of a 
ceremonial occasion and to delight the eye 
with its splendor and variety. 

There remains the problem of the 
identity of the statue, a winged figure in 
armor standing on a dragon, at right of 
center, who would appear to be the 
archangel Michael. If an angel seems out 
of place in a "pagan" triumph, it should 
be noted that angels, in the role of divine 
messengers or agents, were common to all 
ancient religions. In fact, Michael had his 
origins in Persian religion, which recognized 
gods of light and of darkness; in his struggle 
with Satan (the dragon) Michael repre- 
sented the victory of the forces of light. 



Conservation Notes 

The panel measures approximately i '/s 
inches in thickness. At some point it was 
cut in half and subsequently rejoined and 
reinforced with additions on the back. 
Original pegged wooden inserts exist along 
two rows in the panel, and while it is 
uncertain what purpose they would have 
served, it is assumed that the pegs func- 
tioned as part of the internal structure of 
the chest. The additions on the back of the 
panel included a layer of wood veneer and 
a wooden cradle. Neither of these additions 
was warranted, and they were in fact caus- 
ing paint to flake; they have been removed. 
Strips of frame molding that had been 
glued and nailed to the edges of the panel 
at a later date were also removed. A margin 
of bare wood around the edges of the panel 
marks where the actual engaged frame of 
the chest would have been attached. Part 
of the keyhole of the chest is also visible, 
located at the top center. The panel has 
a slight outward bow, and the X-radiograph 
reveals several minor splits in the wood. 

The thick gesso layer was applied 
directly to the wood. Incised lines on the 
surface indicate that the complex design of 
the composition was transferred to the 
panel from a cartoon. The paint layer 
appears to be egg tempera that was thinly 
applied, and there is evidence that glazes 
were also employed. Gold and silver leaf 
were used extensively. The small figures 
were painted delicately in detail, and out- 
lines were used to strengthen the forms. 

The paint layer is in good condition 
but shows an expected degree ot miscella- 
neous damage related to the cassone's 
utilitarian use. While many of the faces and 
details of the landscape are well preser\-ed, 
the silver leaf is now largely missing and 
the gold is extensively abraded. 

Recendy, areas ot lifting paint were 
consolidated, and the painting was cleaned 
and restored. The wood support was also 
treated to mend cracks, vr 


Gherardo di Jacopo di Neri Stamina 

FLORENCE, ACTIVE 1378-1409/13 


A Bishop Saint and Saint 

Lawrence (predella panel) 

c. 1404/7 

Tempera on panel 

16.5 X 42.5 cm (6V1 X i6'/4 in.) 

Gift of Dr. Ernest Tross 



Stamina was possibly trained in the work- 
shop of Agnolo Gaddi; he joined the 
painters' guild in 1387. He spent more than 
five years in Spain, working in Toledo 
around 1395 and then moving to Valencia 
sometime before July 1398. He returned to 
Florence after the middle of 1401. In 1404 
he completed the fresco decoration of 
a chapel in Santa Maria del Carmine, and 
in 1409 he was commissioned to execute 
frescoes in the Confraternity of the 
Annunciation in Empoli; extant fragments 
of these two cycles are the only works that 
can be documented as by his hand. Art 
historians have sought to reconstruct his 
oeuvre from among works attributed to 
Agnolo Gaddi and his school and a group 
of paintings still in Toledo. There is still 
some debate as to whether the stylistically 
similar Master of the Bambino Vispo 
("lively child," after his energetic infant 
Christ) was a Spanish collaborator of 
Stamina's (perhaps Miguel Alcafiiz) or in 
fact the artist himself, the latter view being 
now generally accepted. Stamina also had 
a definite stylistic affinity with Lorenzo 
Monaco, as can be seen in his graceful 

curves of drapery (reminiscent also of the 
work of Lorenzo Ghiberti), intense colors, 
and brilliant white highlighting. 

This panel is the left section of a pre- 
della that formed the base for an altarpiece. 
The third-century saint Lawrence can be 
easily identified at the right by his dalmatic 
(the traditional vestment of a deacon), his 
palm of martyrdom, and the gridiron on 
which he was killed (see cat. no. 13). 
Various attempts to identify the bishop 
saint on the left have not been conclusive. 
Bernard Berenson called him Augustine, 
which was a common (and often erro- 
neous) assumption when a bishop had no 
specific attributes. In the early literature he 
was identified as Bishop Sixtus 11 of Rome, 
who was martyred a few days before 
Lawrence, his deacon, but the figure is 
without a palm branch, and Sixtus was nor- 
mally depicted wearing the papal tiara, 
since as bishop of Rome, he was in fact the 
pope. Cornelia Syre suggested he was 
Hugh of Lincoln (1140- 1200), because of 
his garb, which she believed is Carthusian, 
and because that saint was on the right 
wing of an altarpiece by Stamina dedicated 



to Saint Lawrence, once in the cathedral of 
Florence and now dispersed among several 
museums. Although Wescher suggested 
that the predella was from that disassem- 
bled altar, the original predella was later 
located in the Colonna collection in Rome; 
this predella would have been too long for 
the extant altarpiece. Most recent are sug- 
gestions (Chiarelli 1984, vol. i, 93) that the 
bishop is Hugh of Grenoble (1052 — 1132), 
a friend and advisor of Saint Bruno, the 
founder of the Carthusian order, and that 
the predella was part of a polyptych on one 
of the side altars of the Certosa (Carthusian 
monastery) of Galluzzo, outside Florence 
(Vasari 1906, vol. i, 506—7). 

Fortunately, although the predella was 
cut in three sections, the other two are 
extant and identifiable. The center panel, 
recorded in a private collection in Paris, 
depicts the dead Christ held upright in the 
tomb by an angel, flanked by seated figures 
of the weeping Virgin and the mourning 
Saint John (Berenson 1970, 146—47, fig. 
254). Roberto Longhi (1939—40, 184) 
believed it was by a Spanish assistant; as 
Burton Fredericksen noted (museum files), 
"Its quality is somewhat lower than that of 

the other two parts, and it seems perhaps 
also closer to the Valencian tradition." 
The right section of the predella, currently 
on the art market, depicts another easily 
recognizable deacon saint, Stephen, the 
first Christian to be martyred for his faith, 
carrying the stones that caused his death. 
Accompanying him is an unidentified 
monastic saint in white robes that may 
denote a Benedictine, Camaldolite, or 
Carthusian; his identification in an auction 
catalogue (Christie's, New York, November 
4, 1986, lot 189) as Bruno, the founder of the 
Carthusian order, is certainly plausible and 
would suggest that the Los Angeles bishop 
is indeed his friend Hugh of Grenoble. 

An interesting reference to the 
predella is found in an album of drawings 
(Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan, vol. F.214 
inf.), almost all of which are copies from 
the later 1430s of contemporary works of 
art or antiquities in Italy; the sheets are 
by various artists in the circle of Gentile da 
Fabriano and Pisanello. On one sheet 
are copies of all the figures from the center 
panel of the predella and the Saint Lawrence 
from the Los Angeles panel (Schmitt 1968, 
pi. LXii no. I and pi. lxiii no. 3); Annegrit 



Contessa Barberini, Florence. 
Dr. Ernest Tross, Denver and 

Los Angeles, until 1947. 
Donated to the Los Angeles 

County Museum, 1947. 


Feinblatt [1948.^], 21. 

Los Angeles 1950, 18, cat. no. 4. 

Longhi 1954, 64. 

Wescher 1954, cat. no. 10. 

Berenson 1963, vol. i, 140, 

pi. 472. 
Schmitt 1968, 119, 121, pi. LXiii 

no. 4. 
Fredericksen/Zeri 1972, 125, 

Frinta 1973, 361. 
Syre 1979, 83—88, fig. 106. 
Chiarelli 1984, vol. i, 93. 
Los Angeles 1987, 92. 
Boskovits 1988, 26, 30, 48 n. 68, 

fig. 25. 
Lurie 1989, 373, no. 9A. 

Schmitt attributed this sheet to Pisanello 
himself, although that is not unanimously 
accepted. As Fredericksen pointed out 
(museum files), the existence of this sheet 
suggests that the predella was in Italy, prob- 
ably in Florence, the location of most of the 
other works copied in the album, and that it 
was part of a work important enough to be 
prominently displayed. 

There are other works by Stamina that 
show an interest in the deacon saints: a panel 
with Stephen and Lawrence was recorded in 
the Maitland Griggs collection. New York 
(Van Marie 1923—36, vol. 9 [1927], 192, 198), 
and two altarpiece wings depicting Stephen 
and the deacon Vincent of Saragossa are in 
the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Murphy 
1985, 179). The left wing of the disassem- 
bled Saint Lawrence altarpiece mentioned 
above, with Lawrence, Mary Magdalen, and 
the donor. Cardinal Accaiuoli, is in the 
Bodemuseum, Berlin. 

I am grateful to Luisa Moroni for bringing this 
information to my attention. 

Conservation Notes 

The panel is constructed from a horizontally 
oriented plank of wood that is approxi- 
mately Vm of an inch thick. The composition 
remains intact; it is bordered on the top 
and bottom edges with the raised gesso of 
a now-missing engaged frame. The left and 
right sides are bordered with remnants of 
pasdglia. The panel has never been cradled 
or thinned. 

The basic composition was placed 
onto the panel with a light, inscribed line. 
Gold leaf covers much of the panel's sur- 
face, including the background; it forms 
the base of Saint Lawrence's robe and is 
covered there by a transparent glaze. The 
decorative trim on the garments of the 
bishop saint are done with mordant gild- 
ing. Though the gold of the background 
is noticeably disturbed by abrasion, that in 
the saints' garments survives very well. 
The paint appears to be egg tempera; it is 
in very good condition with no sizable 
losses in the figures. Gold details on the 
surfaces of the figures were adhered by 
thick mordants of differing hues; they also 
remain in good condition, ss 



Ugolino di Nerio 

SIENA, ACTIVE 1317-c. 1327 

Worshiping Angels 

c. 1320/25 

Tempera on panel 

44.5 X 74.9 cm (17V2 X 29'/2 in.) 

William Randolph Hearst 




Ugolino was the son and brother of Sienese 
painters, whom he surpassed in fame to the 
point of being commissioned to execute 
the high aharpiece of the great Franciscan 
church of Santa Croce in the rival city of 
Florence, where he also apparently worked 
in Orsanmichele and Santa Maria Novella. 
He returned to his native city in the later 
1320s; the last reference to him in docu- 
ments is in 1327, but he seems to have lived 
some time after that, possibly until 1349. 
Stylistically Ugolino was a follower of 
Duccio; in composition, style, and iconog- 
raphy his work is often derived from 
'Ducc\os Maesta (1308/11), which was then 
on the high altar of the cathedral of Siena. 
In the grace of Ugolino's figures and the 
lyricism of his work can be seen a link to 
the Gothic elegance of Simone Martini; his 
colors, rich but subtle, are distinctive. His 
later work was characterized by a greater 
plasticity in the figures and by more com- 
plex compositions. 

The only authenticated work by 
Ugolino is the high altarpiece of Santa 
Croce, of which this panel is a fragment; 
in 1955 Gertrude Coor-Achenbach con- 
vincingly identified the Los Angeles 
spandrels as those that surmounted the 
central image of the Virgin and Child, 
which is now lost. The altarpiece, which 
was probably commissioned by the 
Alamanni family, was still in place when 
it was recorded by Giorgio Vasari in 1550 
(Vasari 1906, vol. i, 454), but after 1566 
it was removed from the high altar. It was 
kept intact on the premises until the early 
nineteenth century, when those sections 
that were still in good condition were 
sold to an unnamed Englishman, perhaps 
William Young Ottley, in whose collection 
many of the panels were later found. 
A drawing from the late eighteenth century 
by William Seroux d'Agincoun (Loyrette 
1978, pi. 22) shows that the panel \^dth the 
Virgin and Child was already deteriorating. 



Santa Croce, Florence, 

until about 1790. 
Possibly William Young Ottley, 

London, until at least 1835. 
William Randolph Hearst, 

Los Angeles, until 1949. 
Donated to the Los Angeles 

County Museum, 1949 

(as "follower of Duccio"). 


Los Angeles 1950, 17, cat. no. 2 

(as "school of Duccio, 

about 1300"). 
Longhi 1954, 64 

("very close to Duccio"). 
Wescher 1954, cat. no. i 

(as "follower of Duccio, 

c. 1300"). 
Coor-Achenbach 1955, 156, 158, 

Davies 1961, 535, 537 n. 11. 
Williamstown 1962, 8—9. 
Berenson 1968, vol. i, 438. 
Fredericksen/Zeri 1972, 207, 

BolafR 1972-76, vol. II (1976), 

Loyrette 1978, i8, no. i, fig. i, 

pis. 22-23. 
Gardner von Teuffel 1979, 48 

n. 69, 50, 56 n. 82, figs. 27-28. 
Stubblebine 1979, vol. i, 164— 

66, 168 n. 10; vol. 2, fig. 401. 
Carli 1981, 74. 
Christiansen 1982, fig. 20. 
Gordon /Reeve 1984, 40, 

figs. 3-4. 
Los Angeles 1987, 97. 
London 1989, 102, in, fig. 60. 
Boskovits 1990, 222. 

but it was taken to England anyway, proba- 
bly because it was the central image and 
because Ugolino's signature was below it: 
a "fragment" of the Virgin and Child — 
probably fragmentary in the sense of 
condition rather than shape — was noted in 
Ottley 's collection in 1835. Whether or not 
the central panel was accompanied by the 
spandrels is not mentioned; neither of the 
two sections appeared in sales of the collec- 
tion in 1847 or 1850 (Davies 1961, 533 — 36). 
Paint losses on the Los Angeles panel 
suggest that it may have been one of the 
sections of the altarpiece that was left 
behind in Italy. 

Narrower spandrels of pairs of adoring 
angels by the same hand surmounted the 
half-figures of saints that were once on 
either side of the central images; the smaller 
spandrels are now in the Gemaldegalerie, 
Berlin-Dahlem, and the National Gallery, 
London. These and the Los Angeles panels 
show an extraordinary range of colors, per- 
haps due to Ugolino's use of glazes, which 
allowed a more subtle modulation of hues. 

Conservation Notes 

These two small spandrels (about % of an 
inch thick) are nailed to a heavier board 
(about 2 inches thick) that once formed the 
central tier of the Santa Croce altarpiece. 
The wood for both supports is poplar. The 
Virgin and Child, which would have been 
painted directly on the heavier support, was 
roughly chiseled out along the arch of the 
spandrels. One inch of the main panel 
extends above the spandrels, which are 
separated at the apex of the arch. A dowel 
hole exists at each side (lower part), and 
one hole has remnants of a dowel. The 
carved molding along the arch is original, 
attached with nails. The main panel and the 
spandrels were the same width, which has 
remained unchanged. 

The preparation is a gesso ground into 
which the design has been incised. Flesh 
is underpainted with terre verte, and the 
preparation for gilding is a red bole. Halos 
are decorated with incising. 

The right spandrel is in pristine condi- 
tion. The left one, however, has serious 
losses: two angel heads are totally lost. 
Since it is impossible to know the original 
appearance of these two figures, they have 
been restored with a technique known as 
tratteggio that does not attempt to recon- 
struct the design. The upper part of the 
head of the angel on the far left is also 
badly damaged, but enough of the original 
paint remained so that invisible reconstruc- 
tion was possible, vr 



Marco Zoppo 



Scene of Judgment 

(fragment from a cassone panel 

with Shooting at Father's Corpse) 

c. 1462 

Tempera on panel 

52.1 X 69.9 cm (20/4 X 27'/2 in.) 

Gift of Howard Ahmanson, Jr. 

M.81. 259.1 


Marco di Ruggero, better known as Marco 
Zoppo, was born near Bologna. Between 
1453 and 1455 he was adopted by the 
Paduan painter Francesco Squarcione, 
whose hard, Hnear style influenced his own 
work, as it had that of an earlier adoptee, 
Andrea Mantegna. Like Mantegna, Zoppo 
fled to Venice, breaking his contractual 
obligation to Squarcione. After a brief stay 
in Bologna, from 1461 to 1463, he returned 
to Venice, where he remained until his 
death. Zoppo's style is an interesting mix- 
ture of Gothic elegance and Renaissance 
naturalism, a combination that could be 
seen in different proportions in the work of 
many northern Italian artists earlier in the 
century, such as Jacopo Bellini. The influ- 
ence of Squarcione and Mantegna is clear 
in Zoppo's hard contours and fascination 
with antiquity. Although his figures rarely 
betray strong feelings, the attenuation of 
form, sharpness of contour, and clarity of 
environment give his works an emotional 
edge and explain his association with the 
intense, idiosyncratic style of the painters 
of Ferrara. 

This is the left half of a panel that prob- 
ably formed the side of a cassone, a marriage 
chest (see cat. no. 15). The right half, now 
in a private collection in Florence (fig. 23), 
depicts a young man shooting an arrow at 
an old man tied to a column, while another 
young man holding a bow looks back at 
the group in the Los Angeles panel. The 
subject of the painting was erroneously 
identified first as the martyrdom of Saint 
Sebastian and then of Saint Christopher, in 
which one of the arrows shot at the saint 
by his executioners turned back and struck 
the king who ordered his death. Wolfgang 
Stechow identified the composition cor- 
rectly as the illustration of a litde-known 
story from the Babylonian Talmud, in 
which Rabbi Bnaha discovered the legiti- 
mate son among the ten sons of a deceased 
man by ordering the claimants to knock on 
the grave until the corpse arose; the rabbi 
awarded the inheritance to the one son who 
refused to disturb his father's rest. In later 
centuries the story was altered to a far 
more gruesome incident in which the 
corpse was exhumed and the sons ordered 
to pierce the body with arrows or lances. 
The judge was sometimes transformed into 
the wise King Solomon, as he perhaps is in 
the Los Angeles panel, since he wears a 
crown. The scene was found in fourteenth- 
and fifteenth-century illuminated Bibles as 
an illustration of the Book of Proverbs, 
which represented the wisdom of Solomon 
himself (Stechow 1942, 215-19). In this 
painting, asked to identify the rightful 



Erich Gallery, New York, 

by 1940. 
Duveen Brothers, New York, 

by 1959. 
Howard Ahmanson, Los Angeles. 
Mrs. Denis Sullivan, 

Newport Beach. 
Howard Ahmanson, Jr., 

Los Angeles. 
Donated to the Los Angeles 

County Museum of Art, 1981. 


Possibly the Columbus Gallery 
of Fine Arts. 


Stechow 1955, 55-56, fig. I. 
Ruhmer 1966, 36, 63, fig. 32. 
Longhi 1968, 139-40, 184-85, 

figs. 327, 329. 
Armstrong 1976, 137—39, 

348-49, cat. no. 46,451, 

fig. 10. 
Armstrong 1981. 
Los Angeles 1987, 102. 
Conisbee/Levkoff/Rand 1991, 

cat. no. 20. 

heir to the dead man's fortune, the king 
indicates the young man at the right of this 
panel (who would be at the center of the 
composition), who refused to desecrate his 
father's corpse and whose gesture — he is 
on one panel, his hand on the other — 
expresses dismay at his brothers' actions. 
The narrative was popular in the fifteenth 
and sixteenth centuries as an example of 
filial piety, an appropriate theme for a cas- 
sone, pairs of which were often gifts from 
the parents of a betrothed couple or the 
commission of the prospective bridegroom. 
Another cassone painted with this theme 
was attributed by Paul Schubring (1923, 
cat. no. 125) to a Bolognese artist of the 
late fifteenth century. 

It is possible that the panel is from one 
of three pairs oicassoni Zoppo is known to 
have executed around 1462, two pairs for 
Barbara of Brandenburg, the marchioness 
of Mantua, and another pair for an uniden- 
tified lady of Bologna. Lilian Armstrong 
(1981) made an intriguing case for the 
former patron, pointing out that the formal 
betrothal of Barbara's son Federigo 
Gonzaga to Margherita of Bavaria took 
place earlier in the same month in which 
Barbara wrote to Zoppo to inquire about 
the progress on the four cassoni. Federigo's 
rebellious behavior over the betrothal may 
have been commemorated in the choice 
of a subject that demonstrated both exem- 
plary and reprehensible behavior in sons. 

The panel is typical of Zoppo's style in 
the dispassionate faces of the participants, 
the heads disproportionately large for the 
bodies, the elongated limbs, and the elegant 
hands, which make delicate gestures with 
long, tapering fingers. The king's rich bro- 
caded robe is painted with great skill. The 

corpse is almost identical to the figure of 
Saint Jerome in a Virgin and Child with 
Four Saints of 1471 painted for the church 
of San Giovanni Evangelista in Pesaro and 
now in the Bodemuseum, Berlin. 

Armstrong noted the similarity of 
the figure in the turban on the left of the 
Los Angeles panel and the "good son" on 
the right to figures in two highly finished 
drawings by Zoppo now bound in a volume 
preserved in the British Museum, London 
(Dodgson 1923, fols. i2r, 22r). The draw- 
ings are not studies for the paintings; 
the twenty-six sheets in the volume seem 
to have been created as independent works 
and kept by the artist as a repertoire of 
models for his compositions. 

A "restoration" of the panel in 
Florence, in which the head of the young 
man at the left was repainted so he looked 
at the corpse and not in the opposite direc- 
tion, suggests that the original panel was 
deliberately cut and "doctored," so that the 
owner would have two paintings to sell. 

Conservation Notes 

The panel measures less than Vi an inch 
in thickness and is cradled on the reverse. 
Pronounced splits, visible through the 
center of the panel, have been repaired in 
the past. There is an underdrawing on the 
gesso ground that can be seen with the help 
of infrared reflectography. The paint is 
estimated to be egg tempera, over which oil 
glazes have been applied. The paint layer, 
especially the faces on the left and right 
sides, is abraded. Miscellaneous damage 
exists from utilitarian use. Certain elements 
are, however, well preserved, such as the 
decorative pattern of the king's garment. The 
panel was recently cleaned and restored, vr 





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SANTA ANA 19^7-58. 

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Adoration of the Child^ Cosimo 
Rosselli, 70 

Adoration of the Magi with Saints 
Paul, Francis, and John the 
Baptist, Master of the 
Fiesole Epiphany, FIG. 49 

Ahmanson Foundation, 46 

Alamanni family, 120 

Alberti, Leonbattista, 90 

Albizzeschi family, 93 

Alcaiiiz, Miguel, 117 

Allegory of Salvation with the 
Virgin, the Christ Child, 
Saint Elizabeth, the Young 
Saint John, and Two Angels, 
Rosso Fiorentino, 35, 37 

Andrea di Bartolo, 50 

Andrea di Clone (see Orcagna) 

Andrea di Giusto, 94 

Angel of the Annunciation, 
Bartolo di Fredi, 

FIG. 20, CAT. NO. I 

Angelico, Fra, 68, 109 
Annunciation, figs. 17, 20, 

CAT. Nos. 1-2, 13 
Annunciation, Simone Martini, 89 
Antonello da Messina, 41 
Apollonio di Giovanni, 114 
Aquinas, Thomas, 66-67 


Barbara of Brandenburg, 123 
Barna da Siena, 49-50 
Bartolo di Fredi, 33, 36, 42, 50 

Angel of the Annunciation, 

FIG. 20, CAT. NO. I 

Virgin Annunciate, 

FIG. 20, CAT. NO. 2 

Bartolomeo di Biagio, 104 

Battle of San Romano, 

Paolo Uccelio, 19 
Bellini, Gentile, 90, 93 
Bellini, Giovanni, 18, 90 

work by, fig. 13 
Bellini, Jacopo, 90-93, 122 

Virgin and Child, 

FIG. II, CAT. NO. 3 

Beskow, Axel, 46 
Beskow, Jacob A., 46 
Biagio d'Antonio 

work by, fig. 15 
Bicci di Lorenzo, 109, in 
Birth of Venus, 

Sandro Botticelli, 19 
Bishop Saint and Saint Lawrence, 

Gherardo di Jacopo 

Stamina, fig. 6, cat. no. 16 
Black Death, bubonic plague of 

Bottegas (workshops), 28-30 
Botticelli, Sandro, 19, 24, 29, 70 
Byzantine art 

early icons on wood, 10 
influence in Venice, 91, 112 
visual tradition in Italy, 49 

Cappellucci mercenaries, 52 
Carmelite Madonna, 

Pietro Lorenzetti, 16, 53 
Carpaccio, Vittore, 91 
Cecchino da Verona, 106 
Cennini, Cennino d'Andrea, 

lllihro deir arte, 32, 36-42, 


Christ on the Cross with Saints 

Vincent Ferrer, John 

the Baptist, Mark, and 

Antoninus, Master of the 

V\eso\e Epiphany , FIG. 45, 

CAT. NO. 12 
Cigoli, Ludovico Cardi da, 69 
Clone family, 94, 97 
Civitali, Matteo, 67 
Classical Greek and Roman art 

and literature 

influence ot, 14, 17, 24 
Compagnia delta Santa Croce, 64 
Consiglio Generate of Siena, 

16, 52 
Conversion of Saint Paul, 

Luca di Tomme, fig. 37 
Comaro, Caterina, 92 
Coronation of the Virgin, 

Martino di Banolomeo, 

FIG. 19, CAT. NO. 10 
Coronation of the Virgin, 

possibly Master of the 

Fiesole Epiphany, 71 
Coronation oj the Virgin Altarpiece, 

Guariento di Arpo, FIG. 5 
Correggio, 43 
Court, Susanne de, 30 
Cradling, 43 


Dario di Giovanni (known as 
Dario da Treviso) 
Saint Bernardino of Siena, 
FIG. 10, CAT. NO. 4 

Domenico Veneziano, 114 

Donatello, 91 

Dream oj Saint Martin, 

possibly Master of the 
Fiesole Epiphany, 71 

Duccio, 26, 120 

Eugenius iv, 67 
Eyck, Jan van, 41 

Ferrer, Saint Vincent, 63, 66, 68 
Fiesole Epiphany, 70-71 
Filippo di Giuliano, 71 
Foppa, Vincenzo, 23 
Francesco di Giorgio, 29 
Francesco di Stefano 

(see Pesellino) 
Francesco di Valdambrino, 105 
Funeral of Saint Francis, 

Domenico Ghirlandaio, 70 

Gaddi, Agnolo, 104, 117 

Gaddi, Taddeo, 94 

Gentile da Fabriano, 90, 118 

Gerini, Niccolo di Pietro, 
38-39, lOI 

Virgin and Child with 
Saints John the Baptist, 
Dominic, Peter, and Paul, 
FIGS. 9, 28, 31, CAT. NO. 5 

Gherardo di Giovanni del Fora, 

Gherarducci, Silvestro dei 

Virgin and Child Enthroned 
with Sainujohn the Baptist 
and John the Evangelist, 
Angels, and a Donor, 
FIG. 12, CAT. NO. 6 


Ghiberti, Lorenzo, 117 
Ghirlandaio, Davide, 71 
Ghirlandaio, Domenico, 18, 

Gilding, 37-38 

mordant gilding, 37 

punching, 37-38 
Giorgione, 90 
Giotto, 97 

Giovanni dal Ponte, 107 
Giovanni del Biondo, 96-97 
Giovanni di Pietro da Napoli, 104 
Giovanni di Paolo Veneziano, 

Gonzaga, Federigo, 27 
Guariento di Arpo 

work by, fig. 5 
Guglielmo, Fra, 71 


Heradius Carrying the Cross, 

Cigoli, 69 
Holy Family with the Infant 

Saint John, Correggio, 43 


International Gothic style, 107 
Isabella d'Este, 27 
Isidora Master 

work by, fig. i 


Jacopo del Sellaio, 71 
work by, fig. 15 
Jacopo della Quercia, 104 
Jacopo di Clone, 94-96 


Kress Collection, 52, 97 
Kress Foundation, 46 
Kress, Rush, 46 
Kress, Samuel H., 46, 51 

Leo X, 69 

Leobinus of Lucca, 65 

Leofstan, Abbot of Bury St. 

Edmunds, 65 
Leonardo da Vinci, 29 
II Libra dell'arte (see Cennini) 
Lionello d'Este, 90 
Lippi, Filippino, 70, 73 

work by, fig. 51 
Lippi, Filippo 

work by, fig. 8 
Lives of the Artists (see Vasari) 
Loddi, Sebastiano, 69 
Lorenzetti, Ambrogio, 49, 99 
Lorenzetti brothers, 88, 96 
Lorenzetti, Pietro, 16, 49-50, 

Lorenzo di Bicci, 109 
Lorenzo di Niccolo, 94, loi 
Lorenzo Monaco, loi, 106-7, I'V 

work by, fig. 18 
Lorenzo Veneziano, 11 2- 13 
Louis IX, 98 
Luca di Paolo Veneziano, 1 1 2 

Luca di Tomme, 34-43, 46-55 
Virgin and Child Enthroned 
with Saints Louis of Toulouse 
and Michael and Angels, 
fig. 36, cat. no. 7 
Virgin and Child Enthroned 
with Saints Nicholas and 
Paul, FIGS. 29-30, 33, 35, 
CAT. NO. 8 

Other work by, figs. 37-38 
conservation report on 

CAT. NO. 8, FIGS. 39-44 


Madonna and Child with Saints 
Francis, Louis of Toulouse, 
John the Baptist, and Mary 
Magdalen, Gherardo di 
Giovanni del Fora, 72 

Madonna degli occhi grossi, 49, 53, 
FIG. 34 

Maesta, Duccio, 26, 120 

Mainardi, Sebastiano, 72 

Mantegna, Andrea, 90, 122 

Marco del Buono, 1 14 

Marco di Ruggero (see Marco 

Margarito da Arezzo 
work by, fig. 4 

Mariotto di Nardo, 46, loi 
follower of. 

Virgin and Child with Saints 
Francis, John the Baptist, 
Catherine of Alexandria, 
and Anthony Abbot, FIG. 24, 
CAT. NO. 9 

Martini, Simone, 49- 50, 88-89, 

Martino di Bartolomeo, 37 

Coronation of the Virgin, 

FIGS. 19, 26, CAT. NO. 10 
Martyrdom of Pope Caius, 

Lorenzo Monaco, fig. 18 
Masolino dal Ponte, 107 
Mass of Saint Giles, 

Master of Saint Giles, fig. 3 
Master of Saint Giles 

work by, fig. 3 
Master of the Bambino Vispo 

(see Stamina) 
Master of the Bargello Judgment 

of Paris (also known as 

the Master of the Carrand 


Virgin of Humility, 

fig. 16, CAT. NO. II 
Master of the Carrand Tondo 

(see Master of the Bargello 

Judgment of Paris) 
Master of the Fiesole Epiphany, 


Christ on the Cross with Saints 

Vincent Ferrer, John the 

Baptist, Mark, ami Antoninus, 

FIG. 45, CAT. NO. 12 

other work by, fig. 49 
conservation report on cat. 
NO. 12, FIGS. 52-58 
scientific report on pig- 
ments, FIGS. 59-64 
Master of the Innocenti 
Coronation, 106 


Master of the Jarves Cassoni, 114 
Master of the Whittemore 

Madonna, 1 1 4 
Medici, Cosimo de', 66-67 
Medici family, 1 1 1 
Medici, Lorenzo de' (the 

Magnificent), 19 
Medici, Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco 

de', 19 
Medici, Piero de', 22 
Medieval chivalric literature, 

influence of, 19 
Migliore, Ferdinando Leopoldo 

del, 69 
Montaperti, battle of, 49 
Monte di Giovanni del Fora, 72 
Morelli Cassone, FIG. 15 
Mummy Portrait of a Woman, 

Isidora Master, fig. i 
Mystic Representation of the 

Crucifixion with Samtjohn 

the Baptist and Another Saint, 

Filippino Lippi, attributed 

to, FIG. 51 


Neri di Bicci, 33, 36, 42, 1 14 

Virgin and Child Enthroned 

with Saints and the 

Annunciation, FIGS. 7, 17, 32, 

CAT. NO. 13 
Niccolo di Ser Sozzo, 50-51 
Nicodemus, 64, 70 


Orcagna (Andrea di Clone), 

Orsini, Ceccola di Giordano 
degli, 52 

Painted panels 

early history of, 10-14 

fragments of, 25-26 

preparation of, 36 

stages in the making of, 

FIG. 25 

use of oil paints, 41 
Painters' guild, Florence, 94, 117 
Painters' guild, Siena, 49 
Pallas and the Centaur, 

Sandro Botticelli, 19 
Paolo Veneziano, 42 

Saint John the Baptist, 

FIG. 2, CAT. NO. 14 

Patronage, 16-17 
Pesellino, Francesco 

work by, fig. 8 
Petrarch, 114 

Piero di Cosimo, 70, 72-73 
Pierozzi, Antonio (Saint 

Antoninus), 63, 66, 68 
Pigments and paint, 38-42 
Pisanello, 90, 11 8-1 9 
Portrait ofjorg Fugger, 

Giovanni Bellini, fig. 13 
Portraiture on panels, 18 
Primavera, Sandro Botticelli, 

>9, ^4 


Ricci family, 67 

Rosselli, Bernardo, 35 

Triumph oj Alexander the 
Great, FIG. 14, CAT. NO. 15 

Rosselli, Cosimo, 69-73 

Rosso Fiorentino, 35, 37, fig. 27 


Agnes, FIG. 38 
Anne, fig. 38 
Anthony Abbot, figs. 17, 
24, 38, CAT. Nos. 9, 13 
Antoninus, FIG. 45, 
CAT. NO. 12 

Bernardino of Siena, 

figs. 10, 17, CAT. NOS. 4, 13 
bishop, FIG. 6, CAT. NO. 16 
Catherine of Alexandria, 
FIGS. 17, 24, 38, 
CAT. NOS. 9, 13 

Dominic, fig. 9, cat. no. 5 

Francis, figs. 24, 49, 

cat. no. 9 

Gabriel, figs. 17, 20, 

CAT. NOS. I, 13 

Giles, fig. 3 

James the Great, fig. 8 

Jerome, fig. 8 

John the Baptist, figs. 2, 9, 


CAT. NOS. 5-6, 9, 12, 14 

John the Evangelist, 
fig. 12, CAT. NO. 6 
Julian, FIG. 17, CAT. no. 13 
Lawrence, figs. 6, 17, 
CAT. NOS. 13, 16 
Louis of Toulouse, fig. 36, 

CAT. NO. 7 

Lucy, fig. 17, CAT. NO. 1 3 

Mamas, fig. 8 

Mark, fig. 45, cat. no. 12 

Michael, fig. 36, cat. no. 7 

Nicholas, fig. 35, cat. no. 8 

Paul, figs. 9, 35, 37, 49, 

CAT. NOS. 5, 8 

Peter, fig. 9, cat. no. 5 

Vincent Ferrer, fig. 45, 

CAT. NO. 12 

Zeno, FIG. 8 
San Marco, Florence, church of, 

floor plan, fig. 48 
Savonarola, Domenico, 68-69 
Scene of Judgment, Marco Zoppo, 

FIGS. 22-23, CAT. NO. 18 

Secular commissions, 17-20 

Secular subjects 

Scene of Judgment, 
FIGS. 22-23, CAT. NO. 18 
Triumph of Alexander the 
Great, FIG. 14, CAT. NO. 15 

Silk weavers' guild, Florence, 
64, 66-67, 69 

Spinello Aretino, loi 

Squarcione, Francesco, 92. 122 

Stamina, Gherardo di Jacopo di 
Neri (probably Master of 
the Bambino Vispo), 34 
Bishop Saint and Saint 
Lawrence, FIG. 6, CAT. NO. 16 

Supports, 35 

Titian, 90 
Transferring, restoration 

technique. 43 
Tratteggio, restoration technique, 

Trinity with Saints Mamas, James 

the Great, Zeno, and Jerome, 

Francesco Pesellino and 

Filippo Lippi, fig. S 
Triumph of Alexander the Great, 

Bernardo Rosselli 

FIG. 14, CAT. NO. 15 
Triumph of Chastity', Gherardo di 

Giovanni del Fora, ■'2 



Uccello, Paolo, 19 
Ugolino di Nerio 

(called Ugolino da Siena), 

26, 42, 104 

IVorshiping Angels, FIG. 21, 

CAT. NO. 17 
Underdrawing, 36-37 

Vasari, Giorgio, Lives of the 

Artists, 37, 41, 49, 51, 63-65, 
67, 69, 72, 120 

Verrocchio, Andrea, 29 

Virgin Adoring the Child, 

Gherardo di Giovanni del 
Fora, 72 

Virgin Annunciate, Bartolo di 
Fredi, fig. 20, cat. no. 2 

Virgin and Child, Jacopo Bellini, 
FIG. II, CAT. NO. 3 

Virgin and Child 

with Saint Anne and Saints 
Catherine of Alexandria, 
John the Baptist, Anthony 
Abbot, and Agnes, 
Luca di Tomme, fig. 38 
with Saints Francis, John the 
Baptist, Catherine of 
Alexandria, and Anthony 
Abbot, Mario di Nardo^ fol- 
lower of, FIG. 24, CAT. NO. 9 
with Saints John the Baptist, 
Dominic, Peter, and Paul, 
Niccolo di Pietro Gerini, 
FIG. 9, CAT. NO. 5 

Virgin and Child Enthroned 
with Saints and the 
Annunciation, Neri di Bicci, 
FIG. 17, CAT. NO. 13 
with Saints John the Baptist 
and John the Evangelist, 
Angels, and a Donor, 
Silvestro dei Gherarducci, 
FIG. 12, CAT. NO. 6 
with Saints Louis of 
Toulouse and Michael and 
Angels, Luca di Tomme, 
FIG. 36, CAT. NO. 7 
with Saints Nicholas and 
Paul, Luca di Tomme, 
FIG. 35, CAT. NO. 8 
with Scenes of the Nativity 
and the Lives of Saints, 
Margarito da Arezzo, fig. 4 

Virgin of Humility, Master of the 
BargeWo Judgment of Paris, 
FIG. 16, CAT. NO. II 

Vivarini, Antonio, 92 

Volto Santo 

crucifix at Lucca, 22, 64-65, 
67, 69, 73, FIG. 46-47 
drawing, Florence, 73, 
FIG. 51 

drawing of Lucca crucifix. 
New York, 72, fig. 50 
earliest reproduction, 65 
painting attributed to Piero 
di Cosimo, 70 
painting, Budapest, 72 
painting, San Gimignano, 72 


William Rufus, 65 
Women, role of, in workshops, 30 
Workshops (bottegas), 28-30 
IVorshiping Angels, Ugolino di 
Nerio, fig. 21, cat. no. 17 

Zanobi di Domenico 
work by, fig. 15 

Zoppo, Marco (Marco di 
Ruggero), 35,42 
Scene of Judgment, 
figs. 22-23, CAT. NO. iS 


FISCAL YEAR 1994-95 


Board of Supervisors, 1994 

Yvonne Brathwaite Burke 

Michael D. Antonovich 

Deane Dana 

Zev Yaroslovski 

Gloria Molina 

Chief Administrative 
Officer and Director of 

Sally Reed 

William A. Mingst 

Robert F. Maguire iii 

Daniel N. Belin 

Chairman of the Executive Committee 

James R. Young 
Secretary /Treasurer 

Mrs. Howard Ahmanson 

William H. Ahmanson 

Mrs. Lionel Bell 

Dr. George N. Boone 

Donald L. Bren 

Mrs. Willard Brown 

Mrs. B. Gerald Cantor 

Mrs. William M. Carpenter 

Mrs. Edward W. Carter 

Robert A. Day 

Jeremy G. Fair 

Michael R. Forman 

Mrs. Camilla Chandler Frost 

Julian Ganz, Jr. 

Herbert M. Gelfand 

Arthur Gilbert 

Stanley Grinstein 

Robert H. Halff 

Felix Juda 

Mrs. Dwight M. Kendall 

Cleon T. Knapp 

Mrs. Harry Lenart 

Herbert L. Lucas, Jr. 

Steve Martin 

Sergio Munoz 

Mrs. David H. Murdock 

Mrs. Barbara Pauley Pagen 

Mrs. Stewart Resnick 
Dr. Richard A. Simms 
Michael G. Smooke 
Ray Stark 

Mrs. Jacob Y. Terner 
Walter L. Weisman 
Julius L. Zelman 
Selim K. Zilkha 

Honorary Life Trustees 

Robert H. Ahmanson 

Robert O. Anderson 

The Honorable Walter H. Annenberg 

Mrs. Anna Bing Arnold 

R. Stanton Avery 

B. Gerald Cantor 

Edward W. Carter 

Mrs. Freeman Gates 

Joseph B. Koepfli 

Eric Lidow 

Mrs. Lucille Ellis Simon 

Mrs. Lillian Apodaca Weiner 

Past Presidents 

Edward W. Carter, 1961—66 

Sidney F. Brody, 1966—70 

Dr. Franklin D. Murphy, 1970—74 

Richard E. Sherwood, 1974—78 

Mrs. F. Daniel Frost, 1978—82 

Julian Ganz, Jr., 1982—86 

Daniel N. Belin, 1986—90 

Robert F. Maguire in, 1990—94 


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