The Golden Legend describes how Saint Fronto, the first Bishop of Perigueux, in southern France, dreamed he assisted Christ at the funeral of Saint Martha, one of the two sisters of Lazarus, whom Christ raised from the dead. The inscription on the scroll refers to the fact that Christ had been a guest at their house. The style is closely related to Sano's work as a miniaturist.
Inscription: Inscribed (on scroll held by Christ): i[n] memoria [a]eterna / erit giusta ospida mea (In everlasting memory shall be my righteous hostess)
James Dennistoun, Dennistoun, Kilmacolm, co. Renfrew, Scotland (until d. 1855; his estate sale, Christie's, London, June 14, 1855, no. 16, as "The death of Santa Monaca," by Sano di Pietro, for £9.9.0); Henry Labouchere, Lord Taunton, Stoke Park, Stoke Poges, Bucks., and Quantock Lodge, Bridgwater, Somerset (until d. 1869); his daughter, the Hon. Mary Dorothy Labouchere, later Mrs. Edward James Stanley, Quantock Lodge (1869–about 1920); [R. Langton Douglas, London, until 1921; sold to Lehman]; Arthur Lehman, New York (1921–d. 1936); Mrs. Arthur (Adele L.) Lehman, New York (1936–d. 1965)
Emile Gaillard. "'The Burial of St. Martha' by Sano di Pietro." Burlington Magazine 40 (May 1922), pp. 237–39, ill., attributes it to Sano di Pietro and identifies the subject.
Émile Gaillard. Un peintre siennois au XVe siècle: Sano di Pietro, 1406–1481. Chambéry, 1923, p. 204.
Raimond van Marle. The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. Vol. 9, Late Gothic Painting in Tuscany. The Hague, 1927, pp. 522–23, dates it to Sano's late period.
Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 500.
Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 430.
George Kaftal. Iconography of the Saints in Tuscan Painting. Florence, 1952, col. 681.
Claus Virch. The Adele and Arthur Lehman Collection. New York, 1965, pp. 23–24, ill.
Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Central Italian and North Italian Schools. London, 1968, vol. 1, p. 376.
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 182, 428, 609.
Hugh Brigstocke. "Memoirs of the Dukes of Urbino, James Dennistoun: Collector and Traveller." Connoisseur 198 (August 1978), p. 321, fig. 11.
Denys Sutton. "Robert Langton Douglas, Part III, XV: The War Years." Apollo 109 (June 1979), p. 436.
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, p. 83, pl. 57, note that it seems to be a late work.
This picture is a predella panel from an unidentified altarpiece.
The subject is taken from "The Golden Legend" of Jacobus de Voragine (1941 ed., pp. 394–95). Saint Fronto (or Front, or Frontonius), the first Bishop of Perigueux, in southern France, dreamed that he assisted at the burial of Saint Martha in Tarascon. Christ, at Saint Martha's head, is flanked by two angels. The inscription on the scroll held by Christ refers to the fact that He had been a guest at the house of Mary and Martha. Saint Fronto, at Saint Martha's feet, is accompanied by a deacon.