This imposing representation of the Trinity (God the Father, his son Jesus on the cross, and the dove of the Holy Spirit) was painted about 1390 and is probably the center of a triptych. Among the leading painters in late-fourteenth-century Florence, Agnolo’s work, with its pastel colors and delicate modeling, was especially important for Lorenzo Monaco, whose four prophets hang nearby.
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Artist:Agnolo Gaddi (Italian, Florentine, active by 1369–died 1396)
Medium:Tempera on wood, gold ground
Dimensions:Overall, with arched top, 53 1/2 x 28 3/4 in. (135.9 x 73 cm); painted surface 51 1/8 x 27 7/8 in. (129.9 x 70.8 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of George Blumenthal, 1941
Inscription: Inscribed: (on cross) INRI
[Arnoldo Corsi, Florence, by 1908–at least 1914]; [Alfredo Barsanti, Rome, until 1917; sold through F. Mason Perkins to Blumenthal]; George Blumenthal, New York (1917–41; cat., vol. 1, 1926, pl. VI)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces from the George Blumenthal Collection," December 8, 1943–?, no. 20.
Palm Beach. Society of the Four Arts. "Early European Paintings," January 7–30, 1949, no. 2.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Florentine Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum," June 15–August 15, 1971, no catalogue.
Osvald Sirén. "Anmerkungen zu Dr. Oskar Wulffs 'Madonnenmeister'." Zeitschrift für christliche Kunst 21, no. 1 (1908), col. 26, as with Corsi, Florence; attributes it to the Madonnenmeister, a student of Agnolo Gaddi so named by Dr. Oskar Wulff in nos. 7 and 8, 1907, of the same periodical.
Osvald Sirén. "Early Italian Pictures, the Universtiy Museum, Göttingen." Burlington Magazine 26 (October 1914), p. 113, as with Angelo [sic?] Corsi, Florence; attributes it to a follower of Agnolo Gaddi whom he calls Compagno di Agnolo, the same artist that Wulff named "Madonnenmeister".
Raimond van Marle. The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. Vol. 3, The Florentine School of the 14th Century. The Hague, 1924, pp. 573–74 n. 2, as in the Blumenthal collection, New York; attributes it to Starnina.
Stella Rubinstein-Bloch. Catalogue of the Collection of George and Florence Blumenthal. Vol. 1, Paintings—Early Schools. Paris, 1926, unpaginated, pl. V, attributes it to Agnolo Gaddi, noting analogies with other panels by the artist.
Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 214, lists it as a work of Agnolo Gaddi.
Roberto Salvini. "Per la cronologia e per il catalogo di un discepolo di Agnolo Gaddi." Bollettino d'arte, 3rd ser., 29 (December 1935), p. 294 n. 11, attributes it to a modest follower of Agnolo Gaddi.
Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 184, lists it as a work of Agnolo Gaddi.
Josephine L. Allen and Elizabeth E. Gardner. A Concise Catalogue of the European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1954, p. 40.
Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Florentine School. London, 1963, vol. 1, p. 68, lists it as a work of Agnolo Gaddi.
Guy-Philippe de Montebello. "Four Prophets by Lorenzo Monaco." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 25 (December 1966), p. 159, fig. 4, compares it to the four prophets by Lorenzo Monaco, also in the Metropolitan Museum (65.14.1–4).
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. 47–48, ill., attribute it to Agnolo Gaddi, but state that it may in part be a workshop prudction; suggest it may have been part of triptych, and date it to about 1390.
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 76, 360, 608.
Miklòs Boskovits. Pittura fiorentina alla vigilia del Rinascimento, 1370–1400. Florence, 1975, p. 234 n. 138, p. 301, fig. 240 (detail), considers it a work of Agnolo Gaddi that was once the central panel of a triptych, now dispersed; dates it to 1385–90.
Bruce Cole. Agnolo Gaddi. Oxford, 1977, pp. 41–43, 84, pl. 45, assigns it to Agnolo Gaddi's late period, 1393–96, based on similarities with other Gaddi works.
Miklós Boskovits. "In margine alla bottega di Agnolo Gaddi." Paragone 30 (September 1979), pp. 59, 62 n. 16, fig. 52 (reconstruction), publishes the hypothetical reconstruction of an altarpiece with predella scenes proposed earlier in the 1979 letter [see Ref.; Olga Pujmanová upholds the attribution and reconstruction of the predella panels in "Dve florentské desky z prazské Národní galerie," Umení 27 (1979), pp. 229–35].
Miklós Boskovits. Letter to Everett Fahy. February 7, 1979, suggests that it was once the central panel of a triptych with a predella composed of scenes from the story of the cross by the Master of the Straus Madonna (now Národní Galerie, Prague, and Fioratti collection, New York and Fiesole); later publishes this hypothesis in Paragone, September 1979.
Marco Bona Castellotti in Miklós Boskovits. The Martello Collection: Paintings, Drawings and Miniatures from the XIVth to the XVIIIth Centuries. Florence, 1985, p. 106, ill. p. 111, supports and illustrates the reconstruction proposed by Boskovits [see Ref. 1979]; dates it to about 1390.
Erling S. Skaug. Punch Marks from Giotto to Fra Angelico: Attribution, Chronology, and Workshop Relationships in Tuscan Panel Painting. Oslo, 1994, vol. 1, pp. 262–63; vol. 2, punch chart 8.2, places it in the stylistic development of Agnolo's halo tooling, and identifies punch marks that it shares with works ascribed to Taddeo Gaddi and possibly the Master of the Straus Madonna
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 10, ill. p. 11.
Mojmír S. Frinta. "Part I: Catalogue Raisonné of All Punch Shapes." Punched Decoration on Late Medieval Panel and Miniature Painting. Prague, 1998, pp. 244, 290, 420, 481, ill. (detail of punch mark), classifies the punch marks appearing in this painting.
Fausto Nicolai. "'Primitives' in America: Frederick Mason Perkins and the Early Renaissance Italian Paintings in the Lehman and Blumenthal Collections." Journal of the History of Collections (April 28, 2018), pp. 11, 20 nn. 99–100, 102, fig. 7 (color) [https://doi.org/10.1093/jhc/fhy005], provides documentation relating to Blumenthal's acquisition of the picture.
Reconstructions have been proposed that place this panel at the center of a dismembered triptych, above a predella with scenes from the Legend of the True Cross by the Master of the Straus Madonna (see Boskovits 1979). These scenes depict Christ Descending into Limbo (Národní Galerie, Prague), Saint Helen Discovering the True Cross (Martello collection, Nereo Fioratti, New York and Fiesole), and The Beheading of Cosroe and The Entry of Heraclius into Jerusalem (originally one panel, now divided between the Martello collection and the Národní Galerie).
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