The brother-in-law and occasional collaborator of Simone Martini, Lippo Memmi was an artist of great stature and refinement. This panel is from an altarpiece of which six other panels are known. It seems to have been painted for the church of San Francesco in San Gimignano, a hill town south of Florence. Paul holds the sword of martyrdom and four of his epistles, beginning with that to the Romans, in which there is a famous discussion of salvation by faith.
The brother-in-law as well as sometime partner and collaborator of Simone Martini (in 1324 he married Simone’s sister), Lippo Memmi is one of the outstanding painters of fourteenth-century Siena. His father was a painter and he established a family enterprise with his brother, Federico (or Tederico) Memmi and Simone Martini’s brother Donato. The closeness of the styles of these artists makes it sometimes difficult to distinguish their respective contributions to collaborative works or, indeed, to make definitive attributions of independent paintings. It is therefore not uncommon to find works ascribed to the "famiglia Memmi" or "bottega dei Memmi" (that is, the Memmi circle or workshop). Further confusion arises because of Lorenzo Ghiberti’s attribution in his Commentari of a distinguished cycle of frescoes in the Collegiata of San Gimignano to "Barna"—a name that occurs in no contemporary documents. Fourteenth-century graffiti would, instead, assign these outstanding frescoes to Lippo, underscoring both his stature and his activity in San Gimignano, where he also left a fresco in the Palazzo del Popolo dated 1317. The elaborate altarpiece to which two panels in the MMA belonged seems to have decorated the high altar of the church of San Francesco in San Gimignano. One, the Saint Paul catalogued here—among the first gold ground paintings to enter the MMA—is from the main tier of the altarpiece and the other, a small panel of Saint Clare (64.189.2), formed a pinnacle.
The reconstruction of the altarpiece has taken place in stages. From an early date (Van Marle 1920) it was recognized that a Saint Peter in the Louvre was from the same polyptych as well as, less certainly, a Madonna and Child in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin (the top of which has been cropped and then reconstructed: see Boskovits 1987). Zeri (1952) added a Saint John the Evangelist in the Yale University Art Gallery and a Saint John the Baptist in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and Coor (1961) completed the main tier by adding two saints in the Pinacoteca, Siena: Louis of Toulouse and Francis. Coor also associated two smaller panels as pinnacles and since one of these shows a saint of the Vallombrosan order, she identified the altarpiece with one mentioned by Vasari in the church of San Paolo a Ripa d’Arno in Pisa. Although her reconstruction and identification were accepted by many scholars, it has now been shown that those two pinnacles belong to another altarpiece (for which, see Parenti 2008) and it is that work—not the polyptych to which the MMA saint belonged—that came from the Pisan church. The inclusion of the two saints of the Franciscan order clearly associates the MMA-related altarpiece with a Franciscan rather than a Vallombrosan establishment. A definitive step in completing the reconstruction of the altarpiece and establishing its provenance was made by Mallory (1974). He identified as pinnacles two panels in the Frick Art Museum, Pittsburgh, showing Saints Anthony of Padua and Agnes, a panel of Saint Mary Magdalen (Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence), the Saint Clare in the MMA, a Saint Elizabeth of Hungary (Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan), and a then unidentified male saint, later thought by Lonjon (2006) to be San Gimignano but more probably Augustine (Boskovits 2009), with, probably, a Blessing Christ above the center panel of the Madonna and Child. Anthony of Padua, Clare, and Elizabeth of Hungary are all Franciscans and Mallory identified the polyptych as one painted for the church of San Francesco at Colle di Val d'Elsa, from which the two panels in Siena are known to have come (Torriti 1977). A final contribution to the reconstruction of the altarpiece and its provenance was made by Bagnoli (1999), who has demonstrated that the altarpiece was moved to Colle di Val d’Elsa in 1782, following suppression of the convent of San Francesco in San Gimignano; it is for the latter convent that the altarpiece was painted, probably for the high altar. Recognizing the issues of attribution that pertain to virtually all the constituent parts of this important altarpiece, he reasonably ascribed the altarpiece to Lippo, Federico Memmi, and collaborators, dating it to about 1323–25. Boskovits (2009) prefers a date closer to 1330—when Lippo Memmi draws closest to Simone Martini. Whether the Madonna and Child in Berlin can be identified as the center panel has been disputed—its tooling differs somewhat—and it remains the most hypothetical element.
The most convincing order of the panels is as follows (left to right, main tier): Saints Louis of Toulouse, John the Evangelist, John the Baptist, Berlin Madonna and Child (?), Saints Peter, Paul, and Francis; (pinnacles): Elizabeth of Hungary, Augustine, Mary Magdalen, Blessing Christ(?), Agnes, Anthony of Padua, Clare (see Additional Images, fig. 1).
Lonjon (2006) has made the interesting suggestion that the iconography of the altarpiece reflects the ideals of the extreme branch of the Franciscan order known as the Spirituals and that because of their association with Charles, Duke of Calabria (1298–1328), he may have commissioned the work. Like Florence, San Gimignano accepted the duke as Seigneur in 1326.
[Keith Christiansen 2012]
Inscription: Inscribed (on book): Ad / A[d] / A[d] / .Ad. ROMANOs. / pAvlvs (To the Romans. Paul)
?church of San Francesco, San Gimignano; Mme d'Oliviera, Florence (until 1887)
Roger Fry. Letters. January–March 1906 [published in Ref. Sutton 1972, vol. 1, letter no. 173, p. 251], calls it school of Simone Martini, mentioning that he found this picture among others put away in a storeroom.
F. Mason Perkins. "Di alcuni dipinti di scuola senese." Rassegna d'arte 17 (1917), p. 45, ill. p. 48, attributes it to Lippo Memmi.
Raimond van Marle. Simone Martini et les peintres de son école. Strasbourg, 1920, pp. 1113–14, calls it a late work by Memmi, probably part of the same polyptych to which the Louvre Saint Peter belonged; relates these two panels stylistically to the Madonna and Child in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin.
Raimond van Marle. The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. Vol. 2, The Sienese School of the 14th Century. The Hague, 1924, p. 269, fig. 178.
[Curt H.] Weigelt inAllgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 23, Leipzig, 1929, p. 276, lists it, as well as the Louvre Saint Peter and the Berlin Madonna and Child, among doubtful attributions to Memmi.
Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 41, tentatively lists it as an early work of Barna da Siena.
George Harold Edgell. A History of Sienese Painting. New York, 1932, p. 104, attributes it to Memmi, calling it "close to Simone".
Lionello Venturi. Italian Paintings in America. Vol. 1, Romanesque and Gothic. New York, 1933, unpaginated, pl. 72, attributes it to Memmi's early period, when he was influenced both by his father, Memmo di Filippuccio, and by Simone Martini; states that the Louvre Saint Peter seems to come from the same polyptych.
Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 35.
Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, p. 77, ill., attributes it to Memmi and believes it may originally have been part of an altarpiece in which it was the pendant to either the Louvre Saint Peter or to a Saint John the Baptist in the collection of Maitland F. Griggs, New York [sic, for Saint John the Evangelist; now Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven].
Luigi Coletti. I primitivi. Vol. 2, I senesi e i giotteschi. Novara, 1946, p. LXV n. 90, attributes a Saint Francis and a Saint Louis of Toulouse (both Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena), as well as the MMA panel, the Louvre Saint Peter, and the Berlin Madonna and Child, to Memmi's workshop; states that the MMA and Louvre works, and possibly the Berlin panel, originally formed part of the same polyptych, but is not certain about the two Siena saints.
Federico Zeri. "An Exhibition of Mediterranean Primitives." Burlington Magazine 94 (November 1952), p. 321, attributes it to Memmi and calls it part of the same polyptych as the Yale Saint John the Evangelist, the Louvre Saint Peter, and the Washington Saint John the Baptist.
Klara Steinweg. "Beiträge zu Simone Martini und seiner Werkstatt." Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 7 (July 1956), pp. 167–68 n. 23, attributes it to Memmi, connects it with the Louvre Saint Peter, and suggests that the two paintings may have belonged to the altarpiece in the church of San Paolo a Ripa d'Arno, Pisa.
Enzo Carli. Pittura pisana del Trecento. Vol. 1, Dal "Maestro di S. Torpè" al "Trionfo della Morte". Milan, , pp. 26–27, attributes it to an artist very close to Memmi, along with the two Siena saints and the Louvre Saint Peter; believes that all four works probably come from the same polyptych.
Carlo Volpe. "Precisazioni sul 'Barna' e sul 'Maestro di Palazzo Venezia'." Arte antica e moderna 10 (April–June 1960), pp. 150–51, 157 n. 10, attributes it to Memmi and states that it comes from the same altarpiece as the Louvre Saint Peter and the Griggs/Yale Saint John the Baptist [sic, for either the Yale Saint John the Evangelist or the Washington Saint John the Baptist].
Gertrude Coor. "Two Unknown Paintings by the Master of the Glorification of St. Thomas and Some Closely Related Works." Pantheon 19 (May–June 1961), pp. 129–33 n. 14, p. 134 nn. 18, 19, p. 135 nn. 25, 36, fig. 8, lists the seven main panels of the altarpiece as, from left to right: the Siena Saint Louis of Toulouse, the MMA Saint Paul, the Washington Saint John the Baptist, the Berlin Madonna and Child, the Yale Saint John the Evangelist, the Louvre Saint Peter, and the Siena Saint Francis; attributes the MMA panel to Memmi himself, but feels that an assistant may have helped with some of the other panels; identifies this altarpiece as the one mentioned by Vasari as in the church of San Paolo a Ripa d'Arno, Pisa; calls Simone Martini's altarpiece of about 1319 for Santa Caterina, Pisa, the major inspiration and model; tentatively identifies two panels of hermit saints (Lindenau Museum, Altenburg) and one of Christ Blessing (Musée de Douai) as pinnacles from the polyptych, attributing these three small panels to a pupil of Memmi called the Master of the Glorification of Saint Thomas; dates the seven large panels of the polyptych to the mid or late 1320s.
Fern Rusk Shapley. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. Vol. 1, Italian Schools: XIII–XV Century. London, 1966, p. 49, under no. K511, accepts Coor's [see Ref. 1961] reconstruction and identification of the altarpiece.
Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Central Italian and North Italian Schools. London, 1968, vol. 1, p. 269, attributes it to Memmi, and accepts Coor's [see Ref. 1961] reconstruction and identification of the polyptych.
Ferdinando Bologna. I pittori alla corte Angioina di Napoli, 1266–1414. Rome, 1969, p. 335 n. 7.
Charles Seymour Jr. Early Italian Paintings in the Yale University Art Gallery. New Haven, 1970, pp. 92–93, under no. 64, tentatively accepts the reconstruction and identification of the altarpiece proposed by Coor [see Ref. 1961]; tentatively attributes the Yale panel to Barna da Siena, working in Memmi's studio.
Cristina De Benedictis. "A proposito di un libro su Buffalmacco." Antichità viva 13 (March–April 1974), pp. 7–8, 10 n. 13, fig. 8, attributes the altarpiece to Memmi, accepting Coor's [see Ref. 1961] identification of the provenance as San Paolo a Ripa d'Arno; does not believe the Siena Saints Francis and Louis were connected with this altarpiece, and also rejects the Douai Christ Blessing and the two Altenburg hermit saints; suggests that ten panels of apostles in various American collections may have formed an upper register.
Michael Mallory. "An Altarpiece by Lippo Memmi Reconsidered." Metropolitan Museum Journal 9 (1974), pp. 187–202, figs. 4, 10 (detail), agrees with Coor [see Ref. 1961] on the seven panels composing the main register of the altarpiece, and on their order; also attributes the MMA panel to Memmi himself; dates the altarpiece about 1330; believes that the design and iconography are based on Simone Martini's altarpieces of 1319 at Pisa and 1320 at Orvieto; rejects the Douai Blessing Christ and the two Altenburg hermit saints as pinnacles, proposing instead panels depicting Saints Anthony of Padua and Agnes (both Frick Art Museum, Pittsburgh), Saint Mary Magdalen (Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence), Saint Clare (MMA, 64.189.2), Saint Elizabeth of Hungary (Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan; identified by the museum as Saint Margaret), and an unidentified male saint (location unknown), with probably a Blessing Christ above the center panel of the Madonna and Child; disagrees with Coor's identification of the provenance of the altarpiece, suggesting instead the church of San Francesco at Colle di Val d'Elsa; discusses a suggestion for several panels which may have composed part of a predella of the altarpiece.
Michael Mallory. "Thoughts Concerning the 'Master of the Glorification of St. Thomas'." Art Bulletin 57 (March 1975), pp. 16, 19.
Antonino Caleca. "Tre polittici di Lippo Memmi: un'ipotesi sul Barna e la bottega di Simone e Lippo, 1." Critica d'arte 41 (November–December 1976), pp. 53–55, fig. 17 (erroneously labeled as in the Louvre), rejects the provenance proposed by Coor [see Ref. 1961] as well as the inclusion of the pinnacles of the Douai Christ Blessing and the two Altenburg hermit saints, but accepts her reconstruction of the main panels; considers a provenance from San Francesco at Colle di Val d'Elsa or another Franciscan church of the region most probable; dates the altarpiece to the 1320s.
Cristina De Benedictis. "Il polittico della Passione di Simone Martini e una proposta per Donato." Antichità viva 15 (November–December 1976), pp. 8, 11 n. 32, still accepts the provenance of San Paolo a Ripa d'Arno, and now accepts the two Siena saints as part of the polyptych, but considers these two panels to be by the Master of the Straus Madonna, whom she tentatively identifies as Simone Martini's brother Donato.
Piero Torriti. La Pinacoteca Nazionale di Siena: I dipinti dal XII al XV secolo. Genoa, 1977, p. 90, accepts Coor's [see Ref. 1961] reconstruction of the main register of the altarpiece, but not the provenance from San Paolo, confirming that the two panels in the Siena museum were brought there in 1867 from the church of San Francesco at Colle di Val d'Elsa.
Hayden B. J. Maginnis. "The Literature of Sienese Trecento Painting 1945–1975." Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 40, nos. 3/4 (1977), pp. 289–90, rejects the inclusion of the Berlin Madonna and Child in the altarpiece.
Antonino Caleca. "Tre polittici di Lippo Memmi: un'ipotesi sul Barna e la bottega di Simone di [sic for "e"] Lippo, 2." Critica d'arte 42 (January–June 1977), p. 70.
Bonnie Apgar Bennett. "Lippo Memmi, Simone Martini's 'Fratello in arte': The Image Revealed by his Documented Works." PhD diss., University of Pittsburgh, 1977, pp. 97–99, 224, fig. 41, agrees with Coor's [see Ref. 1961] reconstruction of the altarpiece.
Robert Oertel and Hans-Joachim Eberhardt inCatalogue of Paintings, 13th–18th Century. 2nd, rev. ed. Berlin-Dahlem, 1978, p. 235, under no. 1067 [German ed., 1975, p. 233], date the altarpiece about 1325; report Coor's [see Ref. 1961] and Mallory's [see Ref. 1974] different proposals concerning the provenance of the altarpiece, without supporting either one.
Michel Laclotte inRetables italiens du XIIIe au XVe siècle. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre. Paris, 1978, pp. 19–20, under no. 8, dates the altarpiece about 1330; accepts the reconstruction proposed by Mallory [see Ref. 1974] and believes it was most probably painted for the church of San Francesco at Colle di Val d'Elsa.
Cristina De Benedictis. La pittura senese, 1330–1370. Florence, 1979, pp. 92–93, lists it as part of a polyptych, along with the panels in Berlin, Paris, New Haven, and Washington, but omits the two saints in Siena.
Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sienese and Central Italian Schools. New York, 1980, pp. 50–52, pl. 12, date it about 1330 and attribute it to Memmi himself; reject the provenance of San Paolo and consider it probable that the altarpiece was made for San Francesco; also reject Coor's [see Ref. 1961] suggestion for three of the pinnacles, considering the series of six panels proposed by Mallory [see Ref. 1974] more likely.
Keith Christiansen. "Fourteenth-Century Italian Altarpieces." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 40 (Summer 1982), pp. 24–27, figs. 23 (color), 25 (reconstruction), dates the altarpiece about 1330 and believes that it was probably commissioned for the church of San Francesco; states that it is uncertain that the Berlin Madonna and Child belongs to the altarpiece; accepts the pinnacles proposed by Mallory [see Ref. 1974], but notes that their order cannot be determined; identifies the Milan saint as Dorothy; mentions that the altarpiece may also have included a predella.
Mauro Natale. Museo Poldi Pezzoli: dipinti. Milan, 1982, pp. 145–46, under no. 179, identifies the Milan saint as Margaret; accepts Mallory's [see Ref. 1974] reconstruction of the altarpiece, except for his proposal for the predella; dates the altarpiece about 1330, attributing the Milan panel to Memmi himself and the altarpiece as a whole to his workshop.
Giulietta Chelazzi Dini inSimone Martini e "chompagni". Exh. cat., Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena. Florence, 1985, p. 88, finds Caleca's [see Ref. 1976] reconstruction of the altarpiece the most convincing.
Miklós Boskovits. Gemäldegalerie Berlin, Katalog der Gemälde: frühe italienische Malerei. Ed. Erich Schleier. Berlin, 1987, pp. 74–76, under no. 30, believes that the Berlin Madonna and Child belongs to a different polyptych.
Andrew Martindale. Simone Martini. New York, 1988, pp. 29, 35 n. 18, p. 59, pl. 132 (reconstruction), states that "the paintings [comprising this altarpiece] contain all the necessary requirements of the 'Lippo Memmi factor', the individual panels being attributed with varying degrees of certainty to Lippo Memmi himself"; agrees that the altarpiece was probably painted for San Francesco at Colle di Val d'Elsa; rejects the proposed association [see Ref. De Benedictis 1974] of the ten panels of apostles [four in the MMA, 43.98.9–12] with this altarpiece.
Giovanni Previtali. "Introduzione ai problemi della bottega di Simone Martini." Simone Martini: atti del convegno. Ed. Luciano Bellosi. Florence, 1988, pp. 160–61, 166 nn. 22, 26.
Cristina De Benedictis. "Per Mario Salmi collezionista." Studi di storia dell'arte sul medioevo e il rinascimento nel centenario della nascita di Mario Salmi. Vol. 1, Florence, 1992, pp. 127–29, fig. 7 (reconstruction), publishes a panel formerly in the collection of Mario Salmi (current location unknown), identifying it as Saint Augustine, attributing it to Donato Martini, and including it as a pinnacle of the altarpiece.
Erling S. Skaug. Punch Marks from Giotto to Fra Angelico: Attribution, Chronology, and Workshop Relationships in Tuscan Panel Painting. Oslo, 1994, vol. 1, p. 218; vol. 2, punch chart 7.2, groups it with the two panels in Siena, listing all three under works by Simone Martini and the Martini/Memmi shop.
Joanna Cannon. "The Creation, Meaning, and Audience of the Early Sienese Polyptych: Evidence from the Friars." Italian Altarpieces, 1250–1550: Function and Design. Ed. Eve Borsook and Fiorella Superbi Gioffredi. Oxford, 1994, p. 60, erroneously as in the National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Alessandro Bagnoli. "La chiesa di San Francesco a Colle di Val d'Elsa: intenti per un restauro globale." Restauri e recuperi in terra di Siena. Ed. Cecilia Alessi and Cristina Gnoni Mavarelli. Badesse-Monteriggioni (Siena), 1995, unpaginated, suggests that the altarpiece originally came from San Gimignano and was moved to Colle di Val d'Elsa after the suppression of the convents by Grand Duke Leopold in 1782.
Eliot W. Rowlands. The Collections of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: Italian Paintings, 1300–1800. Kansas City, Mo., 1996, p. 33.
H[ayden]. B. J. Maginnis inThe Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 19, New York, 1996, p. 455.
Mojmír S. Frinta. "Part I: Catalogue Raisonné of All Punch Shapes." Punched Decoration on Late Medieval Panel and Miniature Painting. Prague, 1998, pp. 205, 247, 298, 311, 355, 444, 488, 516, ill. p. 355 (detail of punch mark), classifies the punch marks appearing in this painting.
Alessandro Bagnoli. La Maestà di Simone Martini. [Milan], 1999, pp. 142, 151 n. 184, attributes the altarpiece to Lippo and Federico Memmi and collaborators, and dates it about 1323–25; rejects the provenance of the church of San Francesco at Colle di Val d'Elsa, stating that the work was made for the Franciscan church of San Gimignano, all of whose furnishings were transferred to San Francesco at Colle de Val d'Elsa in 1782; also rejects the Berlin Madonna as part of this altarpiece.
Pierluigi Leone de Castris. Simone Martini. Milan, 2003, pp. 181, 218 n. 49, dates the altarpiece about 1326–28 and agrees that it comes from San Francesco in San Gimignano; does not exclude the possibility that the Berlin Madonna formed the central panel; sees the participation of Lippo's brother Tederigo [or Federico] in the execution of the MMA panel.
Marianne Lonjon. "Précisions sur la provenance du retable dit 'de Colle di Val d'Elsa' de Lippo Memmi." Revue des musées de France: Revue du Louvre 56 (April 2006), pp. 34, 38 n. 1, p. 39 n. 13, figs. 5–7 (reconstructions), identifies the panel published by De Benedictis [see Ref. 1992] as Saint Gimignano, not Saint Augustine, and argues that the altarpiece was made for the church of San Francesco at San Gimignano, as proposed by Bagnoli [see Ref. 1999]; rejects the Berlin Madonna and Child as the central panel; suggests that the iconography of the altarpiece reflects the ideals of the Franciscan branch of the Spirituals, which was linked to Charles, Duke of Calabria (1298–1328), who may have commissioned the altarpiece in 1327–28.
Daniela Parenti inMaestri senesi e toscani nel Lindenau-Museum di Altenburg. Ed. Miklós Boskovits and Johannes Tripps. Exh. cat., Complesso museale. Siena, 2008, p. 34.
Sabina Spannocchi inLa collezione Salini: Dipinti, sculture e oreficerie dei secoli XII, XIII, XIV e XV. Ed. Luciano Bellosi. Florence, 2009, vol. 1, p. 138.
Miklós Boskovits inLa collezione Salini: Dipinti, sculture e oreficerie dei secoli XII, XIII, XIV e XV. Ed. Luciano Bellosi. Florence, 2009, vol. 1, pp. 147–48, fig. 2 (reconstruction), discusses the altarpiece in connection with the pinnacle panel formerly in the Salmi collection, now in the Salini collection, which he identifies as Saint Augustine, not Saint Gimignano; reconstructs the altarpiece with the seven main panels in the following order, from left to right: Saints Louis of Toulouse, John the Evangelist, John the Baptist, Berlin Madonna and Child, Saints Peter, Paul, and Francis.
Miklós Boskovits. Italian Paintings of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries: The Collections of the National Gallery of Art, Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 2016, pp. 203–14, figs. 2 (color), 13 (altarpiece reconstruction), under no. 23, finds convincing Bagnoli's (1995, 1999) argument that the work was made for the church of San Francesco in San Gimignano; dates it between 1317 and 1333, finding it closest in style to the polyptych of 1325 formerly above the main altar of the church of San Paolo a Ripa d'Arno, Pisa; reconstructs the altarpiece with the seven main panels in the following order: Saints Louis of Toulouse, Paul, John the Baptist, Berlin Madonna and Child, Saints John the Evangelist, Peter, Francis.