This triptych is by an unidentified artist who was deeply influenced by the great Sienese painter Duccio di Buoninsegna. The narrative scenes of the Passion of Christ—the events leading up to his crucifixion—are related to scenes on Duccio’s extraordinary Maestà, installed on the high altar of Siena’s cathedral in 1311. The saints in the arcade at the bottom of the central panel appear as they do in predellas for large altarpieces. This portable object provided a microcosm of those monumental paintings for private devotion.
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Title:Madonna and Child Enthroned
Artist:Master of Monte Oliveto (Italian, active Siena ca. 1305–35)
Medium:Tempera on wood, gold ground
Dimensions:Shaped top: central panel, overall, with engaged frame, 30 5/8 x 16 1/2 in. (77.8 x 41.9 cm), painted surface 27 3/8 x 14 in. (69.5 x 35.6 cm); left wing, overall, with engaged frame, 30 3/8 x 8 1/8 in. (77.2 x 20.6 cm); right wing, overall, with engaged frame, 30 1/2 x 8 1/4 in. (77.5 x 21 cm)
Credit Line:Rogers Fund, 1918
?private collection, ?France (from 1850; bought in Siena); ?George Edmund Street, London (until d. 1881); his son, Arthur Edmund Street, London (from 1881); [R. Langton Douglas, London, until 1917; sold to Kleinberger]; [Kleinberger, New York, 1917–18; sold to The Met]
New York. F. Kleinberger Galleries. "Italian Primitives," November 12–30, 1917, no. 43 (as by Segna di Bonaventura [sic], lent by Captain R. Langton Douglas).
B[ryson]. B[urroughs]. "Sienese and Florentine Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 14 (January 1919), p. 6, ill. on cover, as attributed to Segna di Buonaventura by Langton Douglas and Osvald Sirén; discusses the influence of Duccio and Byzantine painting; dates it soon after Duccio's Maestà of 1311.
F. Mason Perkins. "Some Sienese Paintings in American Collections: Part One." Art in America 8 (August 1920), p. 196 n. 3, judging from a photograph, questions the attribution to Segna.
Raimond van Marle. "Dipinti sconosciuti della Scuola di Duccio." Rassegna d'arte senese 19 (1926), p. 5, fig. 9, attributes it to a follower of Segna and dates it after 1350; notes the influence of Simone Martini and especially of Barna da Siena.
Evelyn Sandberg-Vavalà. La croce dipinta italiana e l'iconografia della Passione. Verona, 1929, p. 241 n. 27, p. 257 n. 21, pp. 425, 430–31, 458–59.
Raimond van Marle. "Quadri ducceschi ignorati." La Diana 6, no. 1 (1931), p. 58, attributes both this picture and a Madonna and Child with Scenes from the Passion (then in the collection of Viscount Lee of Fareham, Richmond; current whereabouts unknown; pl. 2) to an eclectic follower of Duccio.
Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 524, lists it as a work from Segna's studio.
George Harold Edgell. A History of Sienese Painting. New York, 1932, p. 64 n. 42, rejects Van Marle's [see Ref. 1926] attribution to the school of Segna.
Cesare Brandi. La regia pinacoteca di Siena. Rome, 1933, p. 177, under no. 604, tentatively attributes this picture, the Lee Madonna [see Ref. Marle 1931], and a damaged Crucifix from the Pieve of Montisi to the painter of a Maestà then in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena (no. 604; originally from the monastery of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, returned there in 1937); also attributes to this painter a diptych then in the Jarves collection, New Haven (now Yale University Art Gallery); calls the painter of all these works the Master of Monte Oliveto.
Raimond van Marle. Le scuole della pittura italiana. Vol. 2, La scuola senese del XIV secolo. The Hague, 1934, p. 106 n. 1 (continued from pp. 104–5), lists it among Ducciesque works.
Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 450.
Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, pp. 73–74, ill., attributes it to a follower of Segna and dates it to the early fourteenth century.
Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 37, Leipzig, 1950, p. 234, lists it as by the Master of Monte Oliveto.
Esther Rezek Mendelsohn. "The Maestro di Monte Oliveto." Master's thesis, New York University, 1950, pp. 28–30, 33, 37, 65 nn. 73, 74, figs. 6–12 (overall and details), attributes it to the Master of Monte Oliveto and dates it to the early 1340s, discussing the influence of Segna and the Lorenzetti.
Cesare Brandi. Duccio. Florence, 1951, p. 141 n. 23.
Josephine L. Allen and Elizabeth E. Gardner. A Concise Catalogue of the European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1954, p. 90.
Gertrude Coor-Achenbach. "A New Attribution to the Monte Oliveto Master and some Observations concerning the Chronology of his Works." Burlington Magazine 97 (July 1955), pp. 203–7, fig. 30, adds a Madonna and Child (then at Knoedler's, New York) to the list of works by the Master of Monte Oliveto, also including in his oeuvre the MMA, Lee, Jarves, Monte Oliveto, and Fairfax Murray paintings; rejects the Montisi Crucifix [see Ref. Brandi 1933]; dates all these works between about 1310 and 1330, and calls the MMA picture the latest of them.
Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Central Italian and North Italian Schools. London, 1968, vol. 1, p. 393, lists it as a work from the studio of Segna.
Luisa Vertova. "A New Work by the Monteoliveto Master." Burlington Magazine 112 (October 1970), p. 691, accepts the attribution to the Master of Monte Oliveto and supports Coor-Achenbach's [see Ref. 1955] dating of late in the artist's career; illustrates a Crucifixion from an unidentified private collection which she attributes to the Master of Monte Oliveto [see also Ref. Offner 1940; this is the same picture he lists as in the Corsi collection, Florence].
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 132, 283, 285, 290, 297, 319, 390, 394, 412, 438, 441, 455, 460, 462, 606, do not identify John the Evangelist, Nicholas, or Catherine.
James H. Stubblebine. "Duccio's 'Maestà' of 1302 for the Chapel of the Nove." Art Quarterly 35, no. 3 (1972), pp. 259–60, 265 nn. 25, 30, fig. 18 (detail), attributes it to the Master of Monte Oliveto; discusses the unusual inclusion of the Virgin in the scene of the Flagellation.
Arno Preiser. Das Entstehen und die Entwicklung der Predella in der italienischen Malerei. PhD diss., Julius-Maximilians-Universität, Würzburg. Hildesheim, 1973, pp. 125–26, 129, pl. 99, discusses the motif of the arcades with half-length saints, noting its connection with Cimabue's altarpiece in the Uffizi and with a Ducciesque panel formerly in the Reinach collection, Paris.
James H. Stubblebine. Letter to Katharine Baetjer. August 14, 1978, writes that in his forthcoming book [see Ref. 1979], he attributes the picture to the Master of Monte Oliveto and dates it to the end of the 1310s or beginning of the 1320s.
James H. Stubblebine. Duccio di Buoninsegna and His School. Princeton, 1979, vol. 1, pp. 10, 92, 97–100; vol. 2, figs. 219–23 (overall and details), attributes it to the Master of Monte Oliveto, along with seventeen other works; dates the MMA painting to the middle of the artist's career, to the late 1310s or early 1320s.
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. 44–46, pl. 10, attribute it to the Master of Monte Oliveto and tentatively date it between 1315 and 1320.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, pp. 40–41, ill.
Mojmír S. Frinta. "Part I: Catalogue Raisonné of All Punch Shapes." Punched Decoration on Late Medieval Panel and Miniature Painting. Prague, 1998, pp. 125, 197, 390, 425, 440, ill. pp. 197, 390, 440 (details of punch marks), classifies the punch marks appearing in this painting.
Luciano Bellosi, ed. La collezione Salini: Dipinti, sculture e oreficerie dei secoli XII, XIII, XIV e XV. Florence, 2009, vol. 1, p. 119, includes it among works by the Master of Monte Oliveto.
Ada Labriola inThe Alana Collection. Ed. Miklós Boskovits. Vol. 1, Italian Paintings from the 13th to 15th Century. Florence, 2009, pp. 104, 108, mentions it as an example of later developments in the artist's career, dating it to the 1310s or 1320s.
Stefano G. Casu. The Pittas Collection: Early Italian Paintings (1200–1530). Florence, 2011, p. 130, fig. 28.1.
Roberto Bartalini inRegards sur les primitifs: Mélanges en l'honneur de Dominique Thiébaut. Paris, 2018, p. 49, fig. 5 (color).
The central panel depicts the Madonna and Child Enthroned with, on the left, three angels, Saints John the Baptist and Paul and, on the right, three angels, Saints John the Evangelist and Peter. In the arches under the throne are Saints Nicholas, Francis, Dominic, and Catherine of Alexandria. On the left wing, from top to bottom, are depicted the Betrayal of Christ, the Flagellation, and the Bearing of the Cross. On the right wing appear the Crucifixion and the Entombment.
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