Master of the Magdalen (Italian, Florence, active 1265–95)
Tempera on wood, gold ground
Central panel 16 x 11 1/8 in. (40.6 x 28.3 cm); left wing 15 x 5 5/8 in. (38.1 x 14.3 cm); right wing 15 x 5 1/2 in. (38.1 x 14 cm)
Gift of George Blumenthal, 1941
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 304
In the center of this triptych are the Madonna and Christ Child enthroned, with Saints Peter and Paul (below) and the Annunciation (above). On the left are Christ in Glory, above the Last Supper and the Betrayal of Christ. On the right, from bottom to top, are the Flagellation, the Way to Calvary, and the Crucifixion.
Inscription: Inscribed (top of central panel): [illegible]
[Mori, Paris, in 1912]; George Blumenthal, New York (by 1923–41; as by unknown Florentine Painter, middle XIII century; cat., vol. 1, 1926, pl. I)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Florentine Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum," June 15–August 15, 1971, no catalogue.
Florence. Galleria dell'Accademia. "L'arte a Firenze nell'età di Dante (1250–1300)," June 1–August 29, 2004, no. 10.
New York. Frick Collection. "Cimabue and Early Italian Devotional Painting," October 3–December 31, 2006, no. 4.
Raimond van Marle. The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. Vol. 1, From the 6th Until the End of the 13th Century. The Hague, 1923, p. 355, fig. 191, as in the Blumenthal collection, New York; attributes it to the Florentine school, dating it about the middle of the thirteenth century.
Georg Graf Vitzthum and W. F. Volbach. Die Malerei und Plastik des Mittelalters in Italien. Wildpark-Potsdam, 1924, pp. 245–46, attribute it to the circle of the Master of the Magdalen [see Notes].
Stella Rubinstein-Bloch. Catalogue of the Collection of George and Florence Blumenthal. Vol. 1, Paintings—Early Schools. Paris, 1926, attributes it to the Master of the Magdalen or a close follower, and refers to the scene of the Last Supper as "the Virgin and Child with the twelve Apostles".
Richard Offner. Italian Primitives at Yale University: Comments & Revisions. New Haven, 1927, pp. 12–13, fig. 4B, considers it an early work of the Master of the Magdalen.
Evelyn Sandberg-Vavalà. La croce dipinta italiana. 1985 ed. Rome, 1929, pp. 425, 440–41, lists it among Italian works from before 1400 that represent the Betrayal of Christ and the Crucifixion; analyzes the iconography.
George Martin Richter. "Megliore di Jacopo and the Magdalen Master." Burlington Magazine 57 (1930), p. 230 n. 13, lists it as one of the earliest works of the Master of the Magdalen.
Benjamin Rowland Jr. "Notes on the Magdalen Master." Art in America 19 (1931), pp. 127, 133, attributes it to the circle of the Master of the Magdalen.
Raimond van Marle. Le scuole della pittura italiana. Vol. 1, Dal VI alla fine del XIII secolo. The Hague, 1932, pp. 347 n. 3, pp. 359–61, fig. 230, rejects the attribution to the Master of the Magdalen, and assigns it to the Florentine school of the mid-thirteenth century.
Evelyn Sandberg Vavalà. L'iconografia della Madonna col Bambino nella pittura italiana del dugento. Siena, 1934, p. 40, mentions it among Italian depictions of the Madonna and Child that reverse the Hodegetria icon formula; notes that the draperies follow the scheme of the mosaics in Monreale, Sicily.
Paolo d'Ancona. Les primitifs italiens du XIe au XIIIe siècle. Paris, 1935, p. 104, describes the figure types in relation to other works attributed to the Master of the Magdalen.
Renate Jaques. "Die Ikonographie der Madonna in trono in der Malerei des Dugento." Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 5 (December 1937), p. 24, discusses the iconography and dates it mid-thirteenth century.
Giulia Sinibaldi and Giulia Brunetti, ed. Pittura italiana del duecento e trecento: Catalogo della mostra giottesca di Firenze del 1937. Exh. cat., Galleria degli Uffizi. Florence, 1943, pp. 229, 231, follow Richter in considering it one of the earliest works of the Master of the Magdalen [see Ref. Richter 1930].
Richard Offner. A Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting. Vol. 5, section 3, New York, 1947, p. 48 n. 1, p. 208 n. 1, p. 259, attributes it to the Master of the Magdalen, and dates it to the third quarter of the thirteenth century.
Gertrude Coor-Achenbach. "A Neglected Work by the Magdalen Master." Burlington Magazine 89 (1947), p. 120 nn. 12, 16, attributes it to the shop of the Master of the Magdalen, and links it with panels from the master's early period; suggests that the now illegible inscription referred to the central representation and not to the artist.
Edward B. Garrison. Italian Romanesque Panel Painting. Florence, 1949, pp. 22, 111, no. 282, ill., attributes it to the Master of the Magdalen and dates it about 1265.
Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 37, Leipzig, 1950, p. 210, erroneously lists it as in the Blumenthal collection.
Gertrude Coor-Achenbach. "Some Unknown Representations by the Magdalen Master." Burlington Magazine 93 (March 1951), pp. 73, 77, attributes it to the Master of the Magdalen himself, dates it 1260s with the artist's earliest works, and calls it the earliest intact Italian painted altarpiece showing the Madonna in full length; discusses the iconography of Judas in the scene of the Last Supper.
James H. Stubblebine. "The Development of the Throne in Dugento Tuscan Painting." Marsyas 7 (1954–57), p. 31 n. 21, observes that the throne follows a formula introduced by Coppo di Marcovaldo.
Edward B. Garrison. "Addenda ad indicem—III." Bollettino d'arte 41 (1956), p. 308, attributes it to the Master of the Magdalen, and dates it about 1265.
Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Florentine School. New York, 1971, pp. 4–5, ill., date it 1265–70, as an early work of the Master of the Magdalen.
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 131, 281, 283, 285, 288, 301, 311, 354, 437, 440, 607.
Alessandra Guerrini inLa pittura in Italia: il Duecento e il Trecento. Ed. Enrico Castelnuovo. Milan, 1986, vol. 2, p. 607, mentions it among the early works of the Master of the Magdalen.
George Bisacca and Laurence B. Kanter inItalian Renaissance Frames. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1990, pp. 12–13, figs. 1, 2 (overall and detail), discuss the construction and decoration of the frame around the central panel.
Angelo Tartuferi. La pittura a Firenze nel Duecento. Florence, 1990, pp. 43, 92–93, fig. 143, dates it 1260–70 and notes that the treatment of the draperies recalls the technique of stained glass
Gaudenz Freuler. "Manifestatori delle cose miracolose": Arte italiana del '300 e '400 da collezioni in Svizzera e nel Liechtenstein. Exh. cat., Fondazione Thyssen-Bornemisza. Lugano, 1991, p. 26, under no. 1, dates it to the artist's first period, relating it to the dossal signed Melior and dated 1271 in the Uffizi, Florence.
Laurence B. Kanter inPainting and Illumination in Early Renaissance Florence: 1300–1450. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1994, p. 5, fig. 2.
Angelo Tartuferi inThe Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 20, New York, 1996, p. 720, follows Offner in identifying it as an early work of the Master of the Magdalen [see Ref. Offner 1927].
Daniela Parenti et al. inL'arte a Firenze nell'età di Dante (1250–1300). Ed. Angelo Tartuferi and Mario Scalini. Exh. cat., Galleria dell'Accademia. Florence, 2004, pp. 8, 100–101, 110, no. 10, ill., date it about 1270 and call it one of the oldest painted portable triptychs; state that an annotation in Berenson's collection of photographs (Villa I Tatti, Florence) indicates that it was with the dealer Mori in Paris in 1912; note that the semi-circular table depicted in the Last Supper is Byzantine in origin.
Holly Flora. Cimabue and Early Italian Devotional Painting. Exh. cat., Frick Collection. New York, 2006, pp. 10, 25, 30–32, 34, 39 n. 124, p. 45, no. 4, ill. p. 45 (color) and fig. 17 (color), dates it about 1280; states that the format is influenced by devotional texts.
The central panel of this triptych shows the Madonna and Child enthroned between Saints Paul and Peter, and, in the upper corners, the Annuciation. The scenes depicted on the the left wing are, from top to bottom, Christ in Majesty, the Last Supper, and the Betrayal of Christ. Those on the right wing are, from top to bottom, the Crucifixion, the Way to Calvary, and the Flagellation.
The Master of the Magdalen is the name given by Osvald Sirén to the painter of a panel in the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence representing Saint Mary Magdalen and eight episodes of her life, and of a group of Florentine paintings of the second half of the thirteenth century related to this picture [see Sirén, "Toskanische Maler im XIII. Jahrhundert," Berlin, 1922, pp. 264–75].