Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Madonna and Child with Saints

Priamo della Quercia (Priamo del Pietro) (Italian, Sienese, active 1442–67)
ca. 1442
Tempera on wood, gold ground
Central panel 43 1/4 x 22 1/2 in. (109.9 x 57.2 cm); left wing 45 1/2 x 22 in. (115.6 x 55.9 cm); right wing 45 1/4 x 22 1/4 in. (114.9 x 56.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of George Blumenthal, 1941
Accession Number:
Not on view
The brother of the great Sienese sculptor, Jacopo della Quercia, Priamo was a retardataire artist of modest abilities. He was active in Volterra between 1440 and 1467 and the present panels can be tentatively identified with an altarpiece commissioned in 1442 for the church of San Michele. The center Virgin and Child is based on a composition by Taddeo di Bartolo. Aside from the fact that the right side of the center panel has been cut, the pictures are in remarkably good condition.
?church of San Michele, Volterra (until before 1832); conte Giulio Sterbini, Rome (in 1906; cat., 1906, nos. 1–3, as by Taddeo di Bartolo); F. Mason Perkins, Lastra a Signa; [Sangiorgi, Rome, until at least 1928; sold to Blumenthal (wings only)]; George Blumenthal, New York (central panel: by 1920–41; cat., vol. 1, 1926, pl. XXIV, as by a follower of Taddeo [di] Bartolo; wings: probably from about 1928, until 1941)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Saints and Their Legends," March 1–June 6, 1974, exh. brochure.

Adolfo Venturi. La galleria Sterbini in Roma. Rome, 1906, pp. 58, 65–67, nos. 14–16, figs. 21–23, attributes the three panels to Taddeo di Bartolo; identifies the figure next to Saint Lucy as Saint Apollonia, and calls the figure next to Saint Michael an unidentified female martyr saint.

F. Mason Perkins. "Some Sienese Paintings in American Collections: Part Three." Art in America 9 (December 1920), pp. 11–13, fig. 4 (central panel), discusses the central panel only, as in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. George Blumenthal, New York; attributes it to an anonymous follower of Taddeo di Bartolo, possibly an Umbrian artist; relates it to Taddeo's altarpiece of 1400 in the chapel of Santa Caterina della Notte, Siena.

Raimond van Marle. The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. Vol. 2, The Sienese School of the 14th Century. The Hague, 1924, p. 581 n. 1, states that it seems to be by a pupil of Taddeo di Bartolo.

Raimond van Marle. The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. Vol. 5, The Hague, 1925, p. 463, states that the three panels "might be from the hand of Taddeo although both the style and execution are of a somewhat poorer quality".

Stella Rubinstein-Bloch. Catalogue of the Collection of George and Florence Blumenthal. Vol. 1, Paintings—Early Schools. Paris, 1926, unpaginated, pl. XXIV (central panel), catalogues the central panel only, attributing it to a follower of Taddeo [di] Bartolo.

Bernard Berenson. "Quadri senza casa: Il Trecento senese, II." Dedalo 11 (November 1930), p. 340, ill. p. 339 (central panel) [same text as Refs. Berenson 1930 (International Studio) and 1970], attributes the central panel to Gualtieri di Giovanni or to someone working with him.

Bernard Berenson. "A Reconstruction of Gualtieri di Giovanni." International Studio 97 (December 1930), p. 71, fig. 10 (central panel) [same text as Refs. Berenson 1930 (Dedalo) and 1970].

Herbert Friedmann. The Symbolic Goldfinch: Its History and Significance in European Devotional Art. Washington, 1946, pp. 153, 155, attributes the central panel to Gualtieri di Giovanni, the Master of the Siena Duomo Sacristy, or the school of Taddeo di Bartolo.

Dorothy C. Shorr. The Christ Child in Devotional Images in Italy During the XIV Century. New York, 1954, p. 191, calls it a copy by a Lucchese painter after Taddeo di Bartolo's altarpiece in Santa Caterina della Notte.

Millard Meiss. "The Yates Thompson Dante and Priamo della Quercia." Burlington Magazine 106 (September 1964), p. 407, fig. 18, attributes the panels to Priamo della Quercia, dating them early in his career.

Sibilla Symeonides. Taddeo di Bartolo. Siena, 1965, p. 254, pl. XCIV (central panel), catalogues the central panel as by Taddeo di Bartolo; states that the picture was in the Perkins collection, Lastra a Signa, after it left the Sterbini collection.

Fern Rusk Shapley. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. Vol. 1, Italian Schools: XIII–XV Century. London, 1966, p. 63, under no. K1179, notes the compositional similarity of the central panel to Taddeo di Bartolo's "Madonna and Child" (Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma).

Millard Meiss. "The Smiling Pages." Illuminated Manuscripts of the Divine Comedy. Princeton, 1969, vol. 1, p. 74, figs. 87 (left wing), 88 (central panel) [same text as Ref. Meiss 1964].

Bernard Berenson. Homeless Paintings of the Renaissance. Ed. Hanna Kiel. Bloomington, 1970, p. 36, fig. 41 (central panel) [same text as Refs. Berenson 1930 (Dedalo and International Studio)].

Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 170, 331, 365, 367, 400, 426, 434, 453, 608, note that the male saint has attributes of both Saint Michael and Saint George.

Giulietta Chelazzi Dini in Jacopo della Quercia nell'arte del suo tempo. Exh. cat., Palazzo Pubblico, Siena. Florence, 1975, p. 290, accepts the attribution to Priamo and Meiss' early dating [see Ref. 1964]; notes its derivation from Taddeo di Bartolo's altarpiece in Santa Caterina della Notte and also the same artist's work now in Tulsa; notes a similarity in style to that of the early Alvaro Pirez.

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. 70–71, pls. 50 (central panel), 51 (wings), attribute it to Priamo and date it about 1442, relating it to his fresco of that date in the Spedale di Santa Maria della Scala, Siena; suggest that it may be the altarpiece commissioned from Priamo in 1442 for the church of San Michele in Volterra and note that this work had already disappeared from the church by 1832.

Marco Paoli. "Documento per Priamo della Quercia." Critica d'arte 50, no. 6 (July–September 1985), p. 98, follows Meiss [see Ref. 1964] in dating the altarpiece to Priamo's early period, and believes it was probably painted before his tabernacle in the Museo Nazionale di Villa Guinigi, Lucca.

Elisabetta Avanzati in La sede storica del Monte dei Paschi di Siena. Ed. Francesco Gurrieri et al. Siena, 1988, pp. 289, 291–93, ill., discusses it in relation to a painting by Priamo of Saints Anthony Abbot and James Major (Monte dei Paschi, Siena).

Gail E. Solberg. "Taddeo di Bartolo: His Life and Work." PhD diss., Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, 1991, vol. 5, pp. 1115–16, discusses it in relation to Taddeo's Madonna and Child in Tulsa.

Linda Pisani. "Appunti su Priamo della Quercia." Arte cristiana 84 (May–June 1996), pp. 171, 174–75, 180 nn. 26–27, p. 181 n. 32, figs. 4a–c.

Mojmír S. Frinta. "Part I: Catalogue Raisonné of All Punch Shapes." Punched Decoration on Late Medieval Panel and Miniature Painting. Prague, 1998, pp. 153, 208, 282, ill. pp. 208 (detail of punch mark on central panel), 282 (detail of punch mark on left wing), classifies the punch marks appearing in this painting.

Carl Brandon Strehlke. Italian Paintings 1250–1450 in the John G. Johnson Collection and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 2004, p. 363, calls it an early work, dating it between 1428 and 1432 [he records the artist's earliest activity as 1426], and calling it stylistically too early to be the altarpiece for San Michele in Volterra commissioned from Priamo in 1440 [sic, for 1442; see Refs. Zeri 1957 and Zeri and Gardner 1980].

These three panels once formed a triptych with the Madonna and Child in the center, Saints Ursula and Michael on the left, and Saints Agatha and Lucy on the right. The central panel has been reshaped. The poses of the Madonna and Child are based on a painting by Taddeo di Bartolo of about 1410 in the Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma. The central panel is also compositionally related to an altarpiece by Taddeo of 1400 in the church of Santa Caterina della Notte, Siena.

The presence of Saint Michael on the left wing, in the place of honor on the Madonna's right, suggests that the triptych may be the altarpiece that Priamo was commissioned to paint in 1442 for the high altar of the church of San Michele in Volterra; unfortunately the contract does not describe the composition (see text in archive file).
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