Florentine School, Portable triptych

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Florence, Italy
15th century
Tempera on panel, Gold ground
52 x 47 cm

Alfred Francois Ramé (1826-1886) collection, Rennes
Private collection, Normandy
Private collection, Switzerland

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Central panel: The Madonna and Child enthroned between Saints James and Peter Martyr,
Left wing: Angel of the Annunciation, Saint Julian and Saint Anthony Abbot,
Right wing: Virgin Annunciate, Saint Leonard and Saint Francis,
On the external side of each wing: A fictive marble decoration with a fictive mosaic rhombus encompassed within a quadrilobe.

The present painting would have been commissioned by private clients and the unusual choice of saints indicates that it was a devotional object made to specific requirements. In the right-hand wing a pentimento is visible in the gold ground, revealing how in place of the two saints, there was originally a Crucifixion.

We attribute this work to Bicci di Lorenzo (Florence 1373-1452), possibly belonging to the early phase of his long and productive career. The compact forms of the style demonstrate a direct descent from the late Trecento Florentine tradition of Agnolo Gaddi and Mariotto di Nardo, they also reveal the continuing vitality of the inheritance of Orcagna’s pervading example. This, combined with a softness in the modelling, a linear fluidity and attention to detail, are fully expressive of late Gothic taste. 

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