Taddeo GaddiTaddeo Gaddi was an assistant and close follower of Giotto. Born in the l290s or early 1300s, he probably had some preliminary training with his father, the painter and mosaicist Gaddo di Zanobi Gaddi. After his father’s death, he is said to have spent twenty-four years in Giotto’s workshop. However, he was already practising on his own account some years before Giotto’s death in 1337.
An extensive cycle of frescoes in the Baroncelli Chapel of Santa Croce was probably begun in or shortly after 1328. Also probably from these early years are twenty-six small quatrefoil panels painted for a sacristy cupboard in the same church (now mostly in the Accademia). These panels were ascribed by Vasari to Giotto, as was a huge and impressive fresco of the Tree of Life in the former refectory at Santa Croce (now part of the church museum).
The earliest of his signed and dated works is a small portable triptych of 1334 in the Berlin museum. A large polyptych in the church of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas in Pistoia is documented as painted in 1347-53, and a Madonna and Child from the church of San Lucchese at Poggibonsi (now in the Uffizi) is signed and dated 1355.
Many works mentioned in early sources are now largely or completely lost, including other frescoes in Santa Croce, frescoes in other Florentine churches (Santo Spirito, San Miniato al Monte and Santissima Annunziata), an altarpiece and frescoes for the church of San Francesco at Pisa (1342) and a fresco in the Mercanzia Vecchio (1363). Gaddi is last documented in 1366. He probably died that year, and was buried in the second cloister of Santa Croce.
Unlike most of Giotto’s many followers, Taddeo Gaddi has always enjoyed an independent reputation. Vasari wrote that ‘he always continued Giotto’s manner without improving it’. However, while often repeating his great predecessor’s compositions, he was not merely a slavish imitator. His Baroncelli Chapel frescoes, in particular, are notable for their lively narrative, bold foreshortenings and dramatic lighting effects. His workshop was inherited by his sons Giovanni and Agnolo. The younger son (Agnolo Gaddi, active by 1369, died 1396) continued the Giotto tradition almost to the end of the fourteenth century.
Avignon. Musée du Petit Palais.
Virgin and Child. Wood, 90 x 37.
The Child holds a goldfinch. There is a tiny roundel of Christ Blessing in the pinnacle of the frame. Probably the centre panel of a polyptych. The attribution to Gaddi, first published by Berenson in his 1932 Lists, is generally accepted, though some critics have assigned the panel to his workshop. Probably late (around 1360). From the huge Campana collection of early Italian pictures, bought for the French nation by Napoleon III in 1861. Previously (1863-1954) in the museum at Bernay; at Avignon since 1976. Much damaged and restored.
Bagno a Ripoli (7 km southeast of Florence). San Giorgio a Ruballa.
Crucifix. Wood, 280 x 192.
The large crucifix hangs over the high altar. It is probably incomplete: it is likely to have had a base, terminals at the ends of the arms with busts of the grieving Virgin and St John, and a Christ Blessing (or pelican) at the top. Unrecorded in early sources, it was published as a work of Gaddi in 1908 (by Osvald Sirén) and the attribution has not been seriously questioned. Probably late (around 1355-60).
The centre panel (63 x 41) shows the Virgin enthroned. Tiny male and female donors, presumably husband and wife, kneel at the base of the throne. Saints and Prophets are depicted round the border of the frame. The inner faces of the wings (each 62 x 21) show the Nativity (left) and Crucifixion (right). Above are two small scenes taken from the Life of St Nicholas of Bari: the saint frees Adeodatus (the son of a Christian, who had been abducted by pagans and forced to serve as cupbearer to their king) and restores him to his family. The outer faces of the wings are less well preserved. On the left, Christ entrusts St John with the care of his mother; St Margaret above. On the right, St Christopher carries the Christ Child; St Catherine above. Signed and dated 1334 on the centre panel. A triptych, dated 1333, by Bernardo Daddi (Bigallo, Florence) is similar in format and shows the same scenes. It is uncertain whether Gaddi’s triptych is a repetition of Daddi’s or both repeat a lost prototype by another artist (Giotto or Maso di Banco?). The Berlin museum acquired the wings of the Gaddi triptych in 1821 (with the Solly collection) and the centre panel in 1823. The fronts and backs of the double-sided wings had already been separated when the museum acquired them. The wings were later divided again, horizontally, to make eight tiny pictures. They were reconstructed in a 1887 restoration, and the triptych is now exhibited complete in a modern frame.
St Francis restoring to Life a Boy of the Spini Family. Wood, 48 x 43.
Three episodes from the story are shown: the boy falls from a window; he is mourned by his family as he lies dead; and he stands upright, restored to life by St Francis, who appears in the sky. One of a series of thirteen small quatrefoil panels showing scenes from Bonaventure’s Life of St Francis. Ten others are in the Accademia, Florence, and two are in Munich.
Pentecost. Wood, 35 x 27.
One of thirteen panels showing scenes from the Life of Christ; the other twelve are in the Accademia, Florence. The thirteen panels, and the other set of thirteen illustrating the Life of St Francis, originally decorated a sacristy cupboard in the church of Santa Croce in Florence, where they all remained until Napoleonic times. The two Berlin panels were acquired in 1828-29 by the Prussian art historian Karl Friedrich von Romohr, who followed Vasari in attributing them to Giotto. The Pentecost is heavily repainted.
Virgin enthroned with Saints and Angels. Wood, 44 x 26.
The eight saints around the throne include John the Baptist, Peter, Michael, Catherine of Alexandria, Francis and possibly Benedict and Mary Magdalene. The little panel has been greatly damaged by flaking. It has been tentatively suggested that it could have formed a diptych with a Crucifixion, of similar shape and width, at Bristol. Bequeathed to the museum in 1902 with the collection of the Swiss artist and collector Adolf von Stürler, who probably acquired it many years earlier in Florence.
Bloomington. Indiana University Art Museum.
Madonna enthroned with Two Donors. Wood, 51 x 24.
This rather abraded work was probably the centre of a small triptych, and is very similar to the centre panel of Gaddi’s triptych, dated 1334, at Berlin. Variously classed as a work of Gaddi himself, his workshop or his following. Formerly in the collection of the New York merchant banker Philip Lehman. Acquired by Samuel H. Kress in 1943 and donated to Indiana University in 1962. The base with the inscription is not original.
Bristol. City Museum and Art Gallery.
Crucifixion and Lamentation. Wood, 52 x 26.
The composition of the Crucifixion is similar (in reverse) to that of the right wing of Gaddi’s triptych, dated 1334, at Berlin. Published as a work of Gaddi by Bernard Berenson in his 1932 Lists. Berenson’s later (1963) attribution to Jacopo del Casentino has had little support. Ladis (1982), noting that the Crucifixion is of higher quality than the Lamentation, includes the picture among ‘works largely by the shop’. Previously in Charles Loeser’s collection in Florence. Acquired by the museum in 1959.
Cambridge (Mass.). Fogg Art Museum.
Saint Francis receiving the Stigmata. Wood, 212 x 150.
A faithful copy of the panel painted by Giotto around 1300 for the church of San Francesco at Pisa. There are no early references to the large picture, which is likely to have served as a church altarpiece. Published (by Mather in 1931) as a work of Giotto and later attributed (by Berenson in 1936) to Bernardo Daddi, it was first attributed to Gaddi only in 1967 (by Previtali in his Giotto e la Suo Bottega). It is considered one of his earliest works (mid-1320s?). Previously owned by Conte Niccolò Magherini of Florence, it was acquired by the museum in 1929. The picture has been transferred to a new panel and is in quite poor condition. Originally rectangular, it has been given a gabled top, and the frame is modern.
Castelfiorentino (30 km southwest of Florence). Museo di Santa Verdiana.
‘Voltiggiano Polyptych’. Wood, 89 x 173.
The Virgin and Child (75 x 38) in the centre panel resemble those in the polyptych, signed by Giotto, at Bologna. The Child clutches a struggling goldfinch. In the four side panels (61/63 x 29) are full-length representations of Saints John the Evangelist and John the Baptist (left) and Saints Zenobius and James (right). The frame is lost. The side panels were discovered at the beginning of the twentieth century in the church of San Jacopo at Voltiggiano; the centre panel only came to light some fifty years later. Classed by Ladis (1982) as a relatively early product of Gaddi’s workshop (about 1335-40).
Castelfiorentino. San Francesco.
Madonna and Child Enthroned. Wood, 169 x 79.
Virtually a copy of Giotto’s famous Ognissanti Madonna (Uffizi). The attribution to Gaddi was first made in 1908 (by Osvald Sirén) and has been supported by most subsequent opinion. The panel is often considered the artist’s earliest surviving work, dating perhaps from the early or mid-1320s. It is in quite poor condition and has been cut down on all four sides. A sixteenth/seventeenth-century niche and throne were removed in a 1937 restoration. The picture was exhibited for many years in the little Santa Verdiana Museum at Castelfiorentino, and was recently returned after a restoration of the church was completed.
Castiglion Fiorentino (between Arezzo and Cortona). Pinacoteca Comunale.
Madonna and Child Enthroned. Wood, 96 x 81.
A fragment of a large Maestà. (The disembodied arms holding books in the bottom corners may have belonged to St Francis and St Louis of Toulouse.) Attributed to Gaddi as an early work; there are similarities with the lunette fresco of around 1328 above the Baroncelli tomb in Santa Croce. The colours are still clear and bright. From the Ente Serristori at Castiglion Fiorentino.
Dijon. Musée des Beaux-Arts.
Adoration of the Shepherds. Wood, 25 x 47.
Donated to the museum in 1901 by the wealthy French art lover and collector Jules Maciet. The attribution to Gaddi, first made in 1908 by Sirén, is now generally accepted, though Berenson had initially proposed Bernardo Daddi. The panel may date from around the mid-1330s.
Fiesole. Bandini Museum.
Annunciation. Wood, 123 x 82.
The dove of the Holy Spirit is released by God the Father and flies towards the Virgin. She is seated on a massive throne – resembling a house – with a projecting roof supported by console brackets and an upper storey with monofora windows. The panel is from the oratorio of the Compagnia di Santa Maria della Croce al Tempio. It may date from around 1343, when the confraternity was founded. It was possibly the central part of a triptych, and it has been suggested recently that panels, now cut down to half-length, of Saint Julian (Metropolitan Museum, New York) and Saint Anthony Abbot (sold at Sotheby's, New York, in January 2019) could have formed the wings. The confraternity was closed in 1785, but its building still stands in the Via San Giuseppe, near Piazza Santa Croce, in Florence. The panel is much damaged (particularly along the bottom edge) and parts (including the Virgin’s mantle) are repainted. A recent restoration revealed medallions in the upper corners of the original frame emblazoned with the confraternity's symbols.
*Madonna and Child Enthroned. Wood, 154 x 80.
The Child holds a fluttering goldfinch in his right hand. The angels or saints standing at the sides (sometimes supposed to be Mary Magdalene and Catherine of Alexandria) hold a casket and a gold crown. Four angels kneel in the foreground, two bearing vases of flowers and two swinging censers. The inscriptions on the step of the throne and along the bottom edge of the picture give the name of the artist and of the patron (‘Giovanni di ser Segni’) and the date 1355. The Segni coat-of-arms appears on the step. The picture was almost certainly painted for the Segni Chapel in the Franciscan church of San Lucchese at Poggibonsi, where Gaddi is said to have also painted frescoes. It was described by Crowe and Cavalcaselle (1864) in the sacristy of the church of San Pietro di Megognano, near Poggibonsi, and by 1876 was on view in the Pinacoteca at Siena. Transferred to the Uffizi in 1914. There is no evidence that the picture ever had side panels.
*Twenty-four panels from a Reliquary Cupboard.
Two panels, originally separate quadrants, have been joined to form two halves of a lunette (72 x 158), with the Annunciation on the left and the Ascension of Christ on the right. Twenty-two panels in quatrefoil frames (41 x 30/37) show scenes from the Life of Christ (twelve) and the Life of St Francis (ten). The panels decorated a reliquary cupboard in the sacristy of the church of Santa Croce. The cupboard contained a fragment of the True Cross and a thorn from Christ’s crown. The panels were broken apart around 1810 and four of them (now in Berlin and Munich) passed into the hands of Florentine dealers. Their original arrangement remains disputed. They were ascribed by Vasari to Giotto and recognised as works of Taddeo Gaddi by Crowe and Cavalcaselle in the first volume of their monumental History of Painting in Italy (1864). They are early – probably dating from shortly after 1330, when the sacristy was decorated. The scenes from Christ’s life generally follow the compositions in Giotto’s frescoes at Padua, while the St Francis scenes are related to the frescoes in the Upper Church at Assisi and the Bardi Chapel at Santa Croce. The Franciscan panels tend to be less well preserved than the New Testament ones: none retains its original frame.
Virgin and Child. Wood, 168 x 129.
The semi-circular panel of the Virgin and Child has an ogee top, with Christ blessing between two angels, and a little predella, with the dead Christ between the Virgin and St John and six other saints. The small figures in the pinnacle and predella are often judged to have been painted by another artist (identified by Roberto Longhi as Niccolò di Pietro Gerini). The picture is first recorded only in 1891, when it was already at the Uffizi. The presence of Benedict and Romuald among the predella saints suggests that it could have been painted for a Benedictine convent. With its unusual shape, it is unlikely to have served as an altarpiece and may have hung over a door. Transferred to the Accademia in 1919. Much restored; the frame has been regilded and the side pillars are not original. Dated about 1350-55 by Ladis (1982).
Transfiguration. Detached fresco, 214 x 87.
There are no old references to the fresco, which was painted on a wall in the old convent of the Badia. Covered at some point with whitewash, it was discovered and detached in 1967 during restoration work after the previous year’s flood. The upper part (showing Christ on Mount Tabor between Moses and Elijah) is well preserved, but the lower part (with the awe-struck apostles) was largely destroyed in the flood.
Florence. Ognissanti. Sacristy.
Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross; the Virgin, St John and two Umiliati monks at the sides. The fresco has been damaged by cracking and flaking, and the contours, background and border have been restored. Unrecorded in early sources, it appears as a work of Taddeo Gaddi in a 1842 guidebook. Ladis (1982) thinks it was executed by the artist’s workshop around 1350.
Florence. Santa Croce.
**Baroncelli Chapel (right transept). Life of the Virgin. Frescoes.
On the left wall are six scenes from the apocryphal Gospel of James: Joachim expelled from the Temple and Annunciation to Joachim (in the lunette); Meeting at the Golden Gate and Birth of the Virgin (with large losses in upper part, obliterating the figure of St Anne on the bed); Presentation of the Virgin (with architecture imposing but out of perspective) and Marriage of the Virgin (the elderly Joseph ridiculed for marrying a pregnant woman). Vasari claims that Taddeo portrayed his father, Gaddo Gaddi, and his father’s great friend, the mosaicist Andrea Tafi, in the Marriage of the Virgin, though their portraits have sometimes been seen in the two bearded men on the right of the Presentation of the Virgin. There is a rare and beautiful preparatory study for (or early copy of) the Presentation in the Temple (drawn in metalpoint with white highlights on grey-green paper) in the Louvre.
On the altar wall are six New Testament scenes: the Annunciation and Visitation (round the top of the window); Annunciation to the Shepherds (a remarkable night scene in which light emitted from the angel is cast onto the dark hillside, waking the shepherds who are sleeping with their flocks); Procession of the Magi; Nativity; and Epiphany. In fictive niches to the right are full-length figures of Jesse (holding a flowering staff) and David (with the head of Goliath). In the lunette of the Baroncelli tomb, outside the chapel, is a fresco of the Virgin and Child. In the quadrants of each of the two vaults are half-length figures in medallions representing the Virtues.
Vasari’s attribution of the frescoes to Gaddi has never been doubted, but the question of dating has been much discussed. It was long supposed that the chapel was painted in 1332-38, but the documentation on which this dating was based may refer to a different chapel founded by the Baroncelli in Santa Croce. A still earlier dating (1328-30) has been proposed on the strength of a dedicatory tomb inscription that states that the chapel was ‘built and begun’ in February 1327 (1328 on the modern calendar).
Taddeo Gaddi has also been credited with the design of the stained glass (restored in 2005), and is often thought to have collaborated on the altarpiece, signed by Giotto, of the Coronation of the Virgin.
Fresco over sacristy door (right transept). Christ among the Doctors.
The fresco is mentioned as Gaddi’s by Ghiberti and Vasari. When Ghiberti wrote (about 1450), the lower part had already been destroyed by the reconstruction of the door. What remains was rediscovered under whitewash late in the nineteenth century and is largely ruined.
Bardi di Vernio Chapel (left transept). Entombment. Fresco.
The two Bardi tombs on the left wall of the chapel have undocumented frescoes. The fresco on the left tomb, representing the Last Judgement, is attributed to Maso di Banco, who painted the St Sylvester cycle in the chapel. That on the right tomb, representing the Entombment, is attributed to Taddeo Gaddi (or his workshop). The figure of the praying female donor on Christ’s painted sarcophagus seems to be emerging from her own real marble tomb. The fresco may date from about 1340.
The design of the chapel's stained glass is attributed either to Taddeo Gaddi or to Maso di Banco. The glass, which is signed by the Florentine glass masters Ubaldo de Vitro and Fra Gherardino Pillecti, was restored in 2011-12.
Sacristy. Crucifixion. Fresco.
The Virgin, Mary Magdalene and St John the Evangelist stand on the left; St Francis, St Henry and St Louis of Toulouse on the right. Previously ascribed to Niccolò di Pietro Gerini (by Crowe and Cavalcaselle), the Crucifixion is now generally considered a late work of Taddeo Gaddi (an attribution first proposed in 1921 by Robert Offner). The three surrounding Passion scenes appear to be rather later, and have been attributed to Mariotto di Nardo (Ascension), Spinello Aretino (Way to Calvary) and Niccolò di Pietro Gerini (Resurrection).
*Tree of Life and Last Supper. Fresco, 1120 x 1170.
The enormous mural fills the entire end wall of the former refectory. The central part was inspired by St Bonaventure’s Tree of Life (1260). It shows Christ crucified on a symbolic cross with twelve branches, from which hang medallions with busts of the Four Evangelists and Twelve Prophets holding inscribed scrolls. St Francis clasps the foot of the cross. A diminutive female donor, dressed as a Franciscan tertiary, kneels behind him. (She has been tentatively identified with a Monica Vaggia Manfredi, who died in 1345 and was buried in Santa Croce.) To the left of the cross, the swooning Virgin is supported by the Three Maries and St John stands behind. To the right of the cross, St Bonaventure sits writing and St Anthony of Padua, St Dominic and St Louis of Toulouse are standing. At the sides of the Crucifixion are four smaller narrative scenes: St Francis receiving the Stigmata and St Louis of Toulouse feeding the Poor on the left, and St Benedict in the Wilderness and the Magdalene washing Christ’s Feet on the right. The Last Supper, below, extends in a horizontal strip across the width of the wall. It is the earliest of the many Last Suppers frescoed in monastic refectories in Florence. Manfredi patronage is suggested by the coat-of-arms (lion rampant) repeated in the borders. The fresco was ascribed by Vasari to Giotto. The Last Supper was attributed to Taddeo Gaddi in 1864 by Crowe and Cavalcaselle (History of Painting in Italy) and the whole fresco was attributed to him in 1907 by Adolfo Venturi (Storia dell’Arte Italia). The fresco is often considered a late work of the 1350s or 1360s, though earlier datings have also been proposed. It was reported in 1847, when the former refectory was being used as a carpet factory, that the fresco was being affected by damp and by the vibration of the looms. It was detached from the wall, in two sections, and restored after damage in the 1966 flood.
Lamentation. Detached fresco, 132 x 417.
This fragmentary frescoed lunette (only the upper half survives) was painted over a door in the south aisle (sixth bay) of the church. Maso di Banco’s Coronation of the Virgin (equally fragmentary and also in the museum) was painted over the opposite door. Mentioned by sixteenth-century writers, the two frescoed lunettes were damaged during Vasari’s redecoration of the church and subsequently covered up. They were discovered in 1911-12 during restoration work on the organ.
Florence. Santa Felicita.
Polyptych. Wood, 206 x 280.
The centre panel shows the Virgin and Child enthroned. The Child holds a goldfinch. Four angels kneel in the foreground, one playing a portable organ, one playing a flute and two holding vases with roses and lilies. The Virgin's throne is decorated with four statuettes representing Virtues: Charity (with flaming heart and candle); Faith (with chalice and cross); Hope (holding a crown); and Humility (with a sheep and flower). The saints in the four side panels are James the Great, John the Baptist, Luke and Philip. In the spandrels at the top of the five panels are small prophets, in pairs, holding scrolls. On the base are the coats-of-arms of the Guicciardini and Guidetti families. The frame is nineteenth-century. The pinnacles are missing, and there may originally have been a predella. It is not known whether the polyptych, which is unrecorded before the nineteenth century, was painted for the church. If it was, it could have been intended either for the high altar or for a chapel dedicated to St Luke that was consecrated in 1354; the Guicciardini had patronage rights over both. Thoroughly restored in 1999-2006. The polyptych was ascribed to Taddeo Gaddi's workshop in Andrew Ladis's 1982 monograph, but it is accepted as a late work of the master himself in a 2006 book (edited by Mirella Branca) documenting the restoration.
Florence. San Francesco di Paolo.
‘Madonna del Parto’. Detached fresco, 140 x 85.
This devotional image was not painted for the church but transferred there from San Pier Maggiore, which was demolished in 1785. Before restoration in 1964, the fresco was so neglected and dirty that only the Virgin’s head remained visible. The lower part is lost, but the upper part is well preserved.
Florence. San Miniato al Monte. Crypt.
Frescoes in vault.
The vault of the large hall crypt is decorated with bust-length figures of saints and martyrs in medallions. The frescoes are either only faintly visible or (in the case of those above the altar) completely repainted. Documents (now lost) record payments to Gaddi in 1341 for painting in the crypt and in 1342 for gilding the capitals.
Imprunetta (near Florence). San Lorenzo alle Rose.
Madonna and Child. Wood, 85 x 55.
The Child raises his right hand in blessing and clutches a goldfinch with his left hand. Attributed to Gaddi in 1921 (by Robert Offner in L’Arte). Probably close in date to the Madonna in the Uffizi (mid-1350s). The panel was displayed at one time in a central opening in a seventeenth-century canvas representing St Dominic and St Catherine (attributed to Francesco Curradi). Later moved to a chapel to the left of the presbytery. Cut down at the top, but otherwise in good condition for a picture of its age.
Indiana. Museum of Art.
Mourning Virgin(?). Wood, 80 x 29.
This full-length figure of an elderly woman with careworn face, dressed in a dark habit and gesturing with her right hand, has been called St Monica or St Anne, but is usually now thought to represent the Virgin grieving. The panel may have belonged to a polyptych that showed the crucified Christ or Man of Sorrows in the centre. Attributed to Gaddi as a very late work (1360s). First recorded only in 1960.
Madrid. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection.
Nativity. Wood, 42 x 42.
The panel has been cut down on the left, removing the shepherds receiving the good news from the angel in the sky. The figures on the right are the midwives Zelomi and Salome (mentioned in the apocryphal Gospel of the Pseudo-Matthew). The panel is unlikely to have come from a predella and was possibly the wing of a portable triptych or part of a horizontal dossal. Sometimes accepted as an early work of Gaddi himself (as in Miklós Boskovits’s 1990 catalogue of early Italian paintings in the collection) and sometimes (as in Andrew Ladis’s 1982 monograph) ascribed to his workshop. It was acquired in 1846 by the Boston Athenaeum, and from 1876 to 1977 was on loan to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Restored in 1977-78 and acquired by Thyssen-Bornemisza in 1979. In 2004 it was placed on loan with the newly refurbished Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya at Barcelona.
Munich. Alte Pinakothek.
Death of a Knight of Celano. Wood, 35 x 31.
St Francis predicted the imminent death of a knight of Celano who had invited him to dine. The knight, heeding the warning, atoned for his sins. He then promptly died, and angels are shown taking his soul.
Ordeal by Fire before the Sultan. Wood, each 35 x 31.
At Damietta, during an audience with the Sultan of Egypt, St Francis demonstrated the strength of his faith by offering to walk through fire. Local imams, on the left, refuse the challenge.
The two panels, still in their original quatrefoil frames, belonged to a series of thirteen panels showing scenes from the Life of St Francis. Ten other panels are in the Accademia, Florence, and one is in Berlin. Together with another set of thirteen panels representing scenes from Christ’s Life, they decorated the doors of a sacristy cupboard in the church of Santa Croce at Florence. Previously in the Ingeheim collection at Reisewitz, they were acquired by the gallery in 1940.
Hew Haven. Yale University Art Gallery.
Entombment of Christ. Wood, 116 x 76.
The dead Christ is lowered into the sarcophagus by the Virgin and St John. Two mourning angels hover in the upper corners. Evidently cut down on all sides, and probably a fragment of a large altarpiece. Probably late (1360s). It was among the early Italian paintings collected by James Jackson Jarves in Florence in the 1850s and sold to Yale in 1871. Originally given to Giotto, the panel was recognised as a work of Taddeo Gaddi in 1908 (by Osvald Sirén). The painting is much damaged. Before Jarves's acquisition, it had been cut down and transferred to a new support, the surface had been stippled over with repaint, the background had been regilded, a new gable had been affixed to the top of the panel, and the painting had been fitted with a modern Gothic-style frame. The repaint, regilding, modern top and frame were removed in a radical restoration carried out in 1954.
New York. Metropolitan Museum.
*Madonna and Child enthroned with Saints. Wood, 110 x 229.
The Virgin is seated on a massive marble throne, while two angels hold up a cloth of honour behind her. The Child tugs playfully at his mother's veil (a motif often employed by Duccio but rare in Florentine painting). The four saints are Lawrence (wearing his usual deacon's robes and holding his gridiron), John the Baptist (pointing to the Christ Child), James the Great (with pilgrim’s staff and holding a book decorated with a scallop shell) and Stephen (another deacon, holding a martyr’s palm and with a stone embedded in his head). The five panels must originally have been contained in a Gothic frame, with pinnacles and a predella, which was replaced in the late fifteenth century by the present rectangular one in a Renaissance style. The Four Evangelists in the spandrels have been ascribed to Ghirlandaio’s workshop (or Davide Ghirlandaio). The altarpiece may be one mentioned by Vasari on the high altar of the church of Santo Stefano al Ponte Vecchio in Florence. It was bought by the museum in 1910 (on the recommendation of Roger Fry) from a Marcello Galli-Dunn of Castello di Badia, near Poggibonsi, halfway between Florence and Siena. It is generally dated around 1340-45.
Saint Julian. Wood, 53 x 35.
The saint holds the sword with which he killed his parents. A side panel from a triptych or polyptych. The panel originally had an arched top and has been cut down at the bottom, but is otherwise in good condition. It was first published only in 1949 (by Roberto Longhi in Paragone), when it was acquired by the New York art dealer Rudolf J. Heineman. Bequeathed to the museum by Mr Heineman’s widow in 1996. A panel, also cut down, of Saint Anthony Abbot has been identified as coming from the same altarpiece. (Formerly in German private collections, it was sold at Sotheby's, New York, for $2.055 million on 30 January 2019.) The Annunciation in the Bandini Museum, Fiesole, has identical punchwork on the haloes and border, and may have formed the central panel of the altarpiece.
New York. Historical Society.
Madonna enthroned with Ten Saints. Wood, 35 x 25.
The saints on the right are Peter (with giant key), Paul (with sword), Nicholas of Bari (holding three golden balls), Agnes (with lamb) and Bonaventure. Those on the left include John the Baptist, Bartholomew (with knife) and Ursula (with arrow). This small panel, with ogee top, was the centre panel of a portable, folding triptych. It was one of many Italian 'primitives' donated to the New York Historical Society in 1867 by Thomas Jefferson Bryan – an American collector who had lived extensively in Europe. Previously little known, it was included (after restoration) in the exhibition Florence and the Dawn of the Renaissance held at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and Ontario in 2012-13. It was shown with two panels from a private collection (one depicting the Annunciation and Nativity and the other the Crucifixion) that might have formed the wings.
Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple. Paper, 36 x 28.
The Virgin Mary, climbing the flight of fifteen steps to the temple, looks back at her parents, Joachim and Anne, who are identified by haloes. The High Priest and two attendants wait at the top of the steps. This exquisite drawing is executed in traditional silverpoint, with white highlighting and blue and green wash, on dyed grey-green paper. The flight of steps, the little temple with slender columns and loggias on either side, and the palazzo to the left are meticulously drawn with a ruler. The drawing has been trimmed at the sides, but the composition otherwise corresponds closely with the fresco painted by Taddeo Gaddi in 1332-38 in the Baroncelli Chapel of Santa Croce, Florence. The high degree of finish suggests that it could have been a presentation drawing, made to give the patrons a clear idea of the proposed fresco. Another possibility is that it is a careful copy or record of the finished fresco made by Gaddi himself or an artist in his circle. Such early Florentine drawings on paper are extremely rare. Acquired by the Musée Napoléon in 1806 through Filippo Strozzi.
Pisa. Camposanto. South wall.
Story of Job. Frescoes (detached).
The scenes are in two registers. Those in the upper include: Job giving alms and feasting with his friends; Satan asking God's permission to tempt Job; the Sabeans driving off Job's cattle and killing his servants; and the rain of fire. The lower register showed Job afflicted with boils and his other ordeals; but these scenes are now all but obliterated. Like other Camposanto frescoes, the paintings were probably damaged less by the 1944 bombing than by their subsequent removal from the walls. They can now be appreciated best from old black-and-white photographs.
The cycle is attributed to Taddeo Gaddi by Vasari – but only in the first (1550) edition of his Lives. (In the 1568 edition, he gives them to Giotto.) The attribution has often been accepted for at least part of the cycle, especially the impressive passage depicting God and Satan. There is evidence (an inscription recorded by Vasari in the church of San Francesco) that Taddeo Gaddi was in Pisa in 1342. The style and technique of the frescoes and their sinopia underdrawings were carefully studied by Andrew Ladis in his 1982 monograph. Ladis concluded that the frescoes are not by Gaddi himself but by a later follower imitating his style. The latest contribution to the subject – a 2014 paper by Johannes Tripps – reaches a different conclusion. It defends both the Gaddi attribution and the 1342 dating.
It is sometimes thought, on the strength of certain entries in the records of the Camposanto, that the cycle was painted – or at least restored and completed – in 1370-72 by a painter called Francesco di Neri da Volterra.
Pisa. San Francesco.
Remains of frescoes.
Sinopia underdrawings and slight fresco fragments were discovered in 1976 in the first chapel of the left transept.
No visible traces remain of the frescoes on the walls of the choir. According to Vasari, who records an inscription with Taddeo Gaddeo's signature and the date 1342, these represented episodes from the lives of St Francis, St Andrew and St Nicholas. The well-preserved figures of saints on the vaulted ceiling were formerly assumed to be by Gaddi, but are now given to a Sienese contemporary called Jacopo di Mino del Pellicciaio.
Pistoia. San Giovanni Fuorcivitas.
*Polyptych. Wood, 221 x 252.
The centre panel shows the Virgin and Child enthroned against a cloth of honour held up by angels. Four side panels show figures of standing saints: James the Great, John the Evangelist, Peter and John the Baptist. Above these are smaller panels with paired three-quarter length figures of other saints. The central pinnacle shows the Annunciation. The four side pinnacles, with figures of the Four Evangelists, are missing. (The St Matthew pinnacle was sold in January 2003 at Sotheby’s for Euro 760,000.) The polyptych now hangs on the right wall of the sacristy. It was painted between 1347 (when the church authorities drew up a list of the ‘best masters of painting who are in Florence’) and 1353 (when ‘maestro Tadeo’ received final payment). The polyptych was cleaned in 1968. There appear to be traces of a signature on the frame beneath the centre panel.
Poppi (some 40 km east of Florence). Castello dei Conti Guidi. Chapel.
There are three large frescoed lunettes. One shows a pair of scenes from the Life of the Virgin: the Presentation in the Temple and Dormition. Another shows scenes from the Life of St John the Baptist: the Meeting of Christ and the Baptist in the Desert (apparently based on Andrea Pisano's bronze relief on the South Door of the Florentine Baptistery) and the Dance of Salome. The third shows scenes from the Life of St John the Evangelist: the Raising of Druisiana and Ascension (both simplified versions of frescoes by Giotto in the Peruzzi Chapel of Santa Croce). The frescoed altarpiece depicted the Virgin and Child with St Francis, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist and an unidentified monk. The left part (with St Francis and the Baptist) was smashed during the Second World War, when a shell burst in the chapel.
The frescoes, previously in a poor state, were restored in 1988-90. They were once ascribed to Jacopo del Casentino (who worked at Poppi according to Vasari). They have been associated with Taddeo Gaddi since 1914, but critical opinion has been divided over whether they should be classed as works of the master or of his workshop or school. In his 1982 monograph, Andrew Ladis attributed them to a follower of Gaddi working around the middle of the fourteenth century. Other writers (including Pier Paolo Donati in his 1966 Taddeo Gaddi and Johannes Tripps in a 2014 paper on the chapel) have attributed the frescoes (at least in part) to Gaddi himself and proposed datings in the 1330s.
Williamstown (Massachusetts). Williams College.
Isaiah. Wood, 24 in dia.
The small quatrefoil panel shows the prophet bust-length, holding a scroll. The inscription (from Isaiah, 7:14) suggests that it originally belonged to a Marian altarpiece. Probably late. Formerly in the collection of Dan Fellows Platt of Englewood, New Jersey. Acquired by Samuel H. Kress in 1943 and donated to Williams College in 1960.