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Luca Signorelli
San Francesco, Santa Caterina d’Alessandria, Sant’Agostino e San Nicola

1500

About the Item

Luca Signorelli (Cortona 1445 - 1523). € 40,000 San Francesco, Santa Caterina d’Alessandria, Sant'Agostino and San Nicola da Tolentino Oil on panel, 13.5x52.5x1 cm; with 18x55 frame Provenance: Provenance: with Paolo Paolini, Rome, circa 1924. with Giuseppe Bellesi, London, active circa 1924-1948. Dr. Raimond van Marle, Perugia. The four tablets are now mounted in a single frame as if they were a predella. In reality looking at the wood on the back you can see how this is not continuous and that all the figures are painted in separate plates. There is no doubt that they come from the same complex, but originally they were mounted in a different way and you will see later. They represent four standing saints, painted against a landscape background, all of them are recognizable by their usual attributes, Francesco dressed in a brown habit and with the stigmata well in evidence, Catherine of Alexandria has the toothed wheel, symbol of martyrdom, Augustine wears the usual black robe under the cope and is intent on reading a book, since he is the father of the church and, finally, St. Nicholas is also dressed in black and carries with him, the lily, the book and has a sun golden on the heart, all details that make it recognizable without a doubt. The four characters are divided by columns that perfectly match each other This does not mean that they were mounted this way, but that they come from the same Opera. There are no signs of cuts on the top or bottom edge and we can think this is the original size. The painting is almost perfectly preserved, it is only just cleaned in the sky which reveals a some of the underlying preparation, but the blue pigment is usually the least resistant e it can often occur in minor damage like this. The small figures, on the other hand, are read on punctually with all the shadows of the garments that reveal a sharp and sure design, a light light that lights up on the outer folds, with the shadows on the contrary very deep in the areas of the garments that are in the dark. The crests of the drapery are broken and shiny, as can be seen very well in Santa Caterina and the landscape slopes gently towards the bottom. The small ones dimensions certainly do not allow a higher finish than the one proposed, also because it is a marginal part of the altarpiece. A predella, perhaps, or part of a piliero of the frame. However, they are images that live their space with a certain monumentality and with one construction of volumes that gives a sense of quality. Some details are less polished, such as the fingers, painted quickly, as pointed, and even the faces are a bit stereotyped as if the painter repeated the same model and the same drawing. However, it is a work of Luca Signorelli's full maturity. All the details that you are described above, and also the general construction of the figures, are truly identifying characters of the painter's style (for an overview of the mature style A. Delpriori, The artistic maturity: 1490-1515, in Luca Signorelli, cat. of the exhibition (Perugia 2012), curated by F. De Chirico, V. Garibaldi, T. Henry, F. F. Mancini, Cinisello Balsamo 2012, pp. 73-85 and T. Henry, The Life and Style of Luca Signorelli, New Haven and London 2012, pp. 263-290). The hunched position of the absorted Agostino is congruent to practically all the analogous figures painted by Signorelli from the beginning of the second decade of the sixteenth century, until the end of his life, which took place in 1523. Luca Signorelli is the same age as Perugino and shares many moments of his career with him it was even thought that they were together in Piero della Francesca's workshop, where he is both Luca and a certain Pietro de Castroplebis are documented, who today is probably thought to be Pietro di Galeotto, because Vannucci had to have an education in the Florentine atelier of Verrocchio. However, they are virtuous short circuits in the history of Art because in fact, starting from eighties with his intervention on the walls of the Sistine, Signorelli meets Verrocchismo more observant and will somehow remain fascinated by it, mixing that turgid style with the adamantine light brought to the same sites by Bartolomeo della Gatta. In 1483 Signorelli he was a well-known artist and at the height of fame, so much so that he painted for Girolamo Basso della Rovere in Loreto, for Lorenzo dei Medici in Florence and then in Volterra and then for the Bichi in Siena. In the nineties he took refuge in Città di Castello, favorite painter of the Vitelli. He then worked in Monteoliveto, again in Siena, obviously in Orvieto where he left one of the most influential works of all Renaissance, the frescoes of the Chapel of San Brizio, copied by the same Michelangelo and Raphael (for the whole life of the painter see T. Henry, The Life and Art of Luca Signorelli, New Haven and London 2012). In the first decade of the sixteenth century he was able to counteract with a monumental gigantism, but never exaggerated, to the new temptations in a beautiful way that the two artists mentioned above they were synthesizing between Rome and Florence. In the second decade he is stable in Cortona, but he continues to work throughout the upper Tiber valley and builds a flourishing shop that will be long-lived, as he explained well in his doctoral thesis at the University of Florence Daniele Simonelli (whose results are published in part in D. Simonelli, Raphaelesque Exercises in Cortona, a predella by Papacello, in "Nuovi Studi", 23, 2018, pp. 109-113). These are the years in which the painter becomes more schematic and repetitive, probably assisted by the students, but he is always able to surprise as for the Communion of the Apostles of Cortona Diocesan Museum, from 1513, which is truly a masterpiece of a mature and still artist loud. The saints who present themselves here are perfectly inserted in this phase and are confronted with the Pala degli Uffizi from Sant'Agostino in Cortona, with the Deposition of Umbertide, with the Madonna and Saints from the National Gallery of London which comes from Montone and with all the paintings by these years, let's say between 1510 and 1515. Assuming they are parts of a predella, the dimensions also justify the same dating. In fact, as time passes, Signorelli uses thinner altar steps. To example, the predella of the Pala Bichi for Sant'Agostino in Siena of 1489 is 25 cm high stupendous (where the painter reacts to young Raphael and perhaps to Girolamo Genga) under the Compianto di Cortona, dated 1501-02, is 29 cm; that of Altemburg which was originally under the Altarpiece of Arcevia from 1508, now in Brera, is 33 cm high (for the reconstruction of this A Delpriori, Girolamo Genga and Luca Signorelli, hypotheses for a new path, in Girolamo Genga: an oblique way in a modern way, conference proceedings (Bologna 2016), edited by B. Agosti, A. M. Ambrosini Massari, M. Beltramini, S. Ginzburg, Lavis 2018, pp. 77-89, in part. pp. 78-79. That of Umbertide, still in the church of Santa Croce, more or less from 1515 is 17.5 cm; that of the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, but painted for the altarpiece of Santa Cristina in London (evoked above) from about 1514 is 18 cm; the one set up on the frame for the Augustinian altarpiece of the Uffizi is 18.5 cm, practically all the same or almost the height of our small tables. And the list could also go on with erratic fragments such as the Adoration of the Shepherds of the National Gallery in London and more (for the whole catalog see T. Henry, L Kanter, G. Testa, Luca Signorelli, Milan 2002). The presence of two Augustinian saints, the same bishop of Hippo and then of St. Nicholas of Tolentino, could suggest an Augustinian context, but they are saints whose cult was very widespread a Cortona and the fact that there is also St. Francis suggests not to look for the provenance from he asked about a particular order. There are many predella fragments from Luca Signorelli's catalog that have yet to be found their location and research, therefore, becomes interesting. In summary, our four saints they are 18cm tall and equally wide, they are all lit from the left and come from same context. The wood has a horizontal grain even if it is not continuous. The columns moldings that separate the images have been a bit helped by the restoration to make them, rightly, more pleasant and homogeneous to the eye, but we know that underneath you can see the preparation and which originally were probably not painted, but which were the housing for wooden columns of the frame. The height dimensions are the original ones, since i margins somewhere retain a hint of the color beard. Luca Signorelli uses the molded columns many times to divide the scenes of his predella which often have irregular spaces, with wider compartments and others much narrower than they follow the needs of the narrative more than the symmetry of the composition. So it is, for for example, for the predella of Bucharest, in the State Museum, that of the Uffizi, and also the panels beyond below the Deposition of Umbertide, just to give a few examples. The same style point of our four saints, with the well-built figures, the scratched design, their small monumentality and somewhat mannered faces, is found in a series of tablets that they seem to be perfectly related to our hips for size. It is two fragments of predella of the Detroit Institute of Art and two others passed by Sotheby's in Florence in the eighties of the last century. All four are 18cm tall (Detroit's few millimeters more), all four are illuminated from the left and can be seen in all the fragments, on the sides the imprint of a molded column dividing the scenes, of which more than anything else the imprint remains on the preparation, exactly as in the tablets with the saints before the last restoration. Laurence Kanter, who rebuilt that series, had speculated that it was next to them also a genuflected Saint Sebastian in a private collection which, however, has different dimensions, especially in height and that I would keep out of this context (T. Henry, L. Kanter, G. Testa, Luca Signorelli, Milan 2002, catt. 109-113, pp. 231-233 and also T. Henry, The Life and Style of Luca Signorelli, New Haven and London 2012, pp. 275-277) The same scholar also thought that the predella divided between the market and the Detroit Museum was the predella of the altarpiece with the Disbelief of St. Thomas and donor of which we know only the photo because it was destroyed in a fire in 1995, but which originally came from the parish church of San Vincenzo in Cortona. This was 143 wide cm, but the figure of the client in the abyss on the right (this Serafino Mazzola, canon of Cortona Cathedral) is certainly cut by several, at least 20, since we should be able to rebuild at least the entire left shoulder and the same must be done for the other side. The Detroit daisies are 42.5 cm wide each and those passed up for auction in Florence respectively 19 and 27 cm. In total, therefore, these tables develop 111 cm. Ours are 18 cm wide each for a total of 183 cm. Considering the cuts of the main blade the dimensions are almost punctual and one might even think that the angels with the coats of arms preserved at the Etruscan Academy in Cortona, which bear the dedication by Serafino Mazzola and the dated 1514, were at the base of the lateral pilieri, as hooves of the cornice. We do not know the scansion of the scenes but one can well imagine that these four holy cards divided the narrative scenes.
  • Creator:
    Luca Signorelli (1441 - 1523, Italian)
  • Creation Year:
    1500
  • Dimensions:
    Height: 7.09 in (18 cm)Width: 21.66 in (55 cm)Depth: 0.4 in (1 cm)
  • More Editions & Sizes:
    13,5x52,5x1Price: $44,291
  • Medium:
  • Movement & Style:
  • Period:
  • Condition:
  • Gallery Location:
    Balerna, CH
  • Reference Number:
    1stDibs: LU2122210894582
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