Lorenzo Monaco, the leading painter in Florence during the early fifteenth century, was equally gifted as an illuminator of books, a painter of frescoes, altarpieces and devotional paintings. This panel likely formed the central pinnacle of a multi-tiered altarpiece, perhaps that portraying the Madonna and Child with Saints Domninus, John the Baptist, Peter, and Anthony Abbot (Museo Diocesano, Empoli). In depicting the Crucifixion, the artist has excluded the numerous figures traditionally incorporated into the narrative, such as the crowds of soldiers, the mourning Holy Women, and the Thieves, thereby reducing the composition to include only the Virgin and Saint John. Contemplating Christ’s sacrifice, they are portrayed seated on the ground, for compositional or dramatic effect. Their relatively large size compared to the figure of Christ may relate to their roles as intercessors for the viewer, emphasizing the devotional aspect of the work.
Bardini, Florence (Catalogue of ... Pictures and other Works of Art..the Property of Signor Stephano Bardini of Florence), Christie's, London, May 30, 1902, no. 627, as Spinello Aretino; bt. Frank Loeser, florence. Acquired by Robert Lehman in 1958.
Osvald Sirén. Don Lorenzo Monaco. Strasbourg, 1905, pp. 42-43.
Bernardo Berenson. "Due illustratori italiani dello Speculum Humanae Salvationis." Bollettino d'arte, 5 (1925–26), pp. 300-301.
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Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 299.
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Alvar González-Palacios. "Indagini su Lorenzo Monaco." Paragone, 241 (1970), p. 241.
Miklòs Boskovits. Pittura fiorentina alla vigilia del Rinascimento, 1370–1400. Florence, 1975, p. 350.
George Szabó. The Robert Lehman Collection: A Guide. New York, 1975, p. 11, fig. 9.
John Pope-Hennessy assisted by Laurence B. Kanter inThe Robert Lehman Collection. Vol. 1, Italian Paintings. New York, 1987, pp. 168-169, no. 71.
Marvin Eisenberg. Lorenzo Monaco. Princeton, 1989, p. 154.
Laurence B. Kanter inPainting and Illumination in Early Renaissance Florence: 1300–1450. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1994, pp. 250-2, no. 31b.
Anna Bisceglia inLorenzo Monaco: A Bridge from Giotto's Heritage to the Renaissance. Ed. Angelo Tartuferi and Daniela Parenti. Exh. cat., Galleria dell'Accademia. Florence, 2006, p. 160, no. 1.