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Pietro Lorenzetti (active Siena, circa 1306-45)
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Pietro Lorenzetti (active Siena, circa 1306-45)\nChrist between Saints Paul and Peter\non gold ground panel\n12¾ x 27¾ in. (32.2 x 70.4 cm.)
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GB
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notes

This hitherto unpublished panel was recognised as a mature work by Pietro Lorenzetti some years ago. Although it was brought to this country in the mid-nineteenth century, this is, most exceptionally, a work of the early trecento that has not been subjected to restoration in modern times.

Pietro Lorenzetti was in some ways the most energetic of the Sienese masters who emerged in the orbit of Duccio di Buoninsegna: less lyrical than Simone Martini and more assertive than his brother Ambrogio, he was one of the great narrative painters of the trecento. His known career commenced with the prodigious frescoes of the left transept of the lower church of the Basilica di San Francesco at Assisi, and continued with a sequence of major altarpieces, both for Sienese churches and for other Tuscan cities. In this panel, Lorenzetti's narrative taste is expressed in the way the lateral saints, Peter and Paul, hold -- and indeed almost flaunt -- their attributes. Equally characteristic is the ostensibly frontal, but -- as the nose indicates -- turned slightly to His proper right, face of Christ, here (surely significantly) looking not at Saint Peter but at the convert, Saint Paul. Christ is shown in the reverse position in the mural of the Resurrection at Assisi, datable about 1315, and in the same sense as in this panel in the much-damaged fresco of the Risen Christ in the Museo dell' Opera del Duomo at Siena (C. Volpe, Pietro Lorenzetti, M. Lucco, ed., Milan, 1989, no. 101); the Virgin is shown at a similar angle in the Carmine polyptych of 1329 (Siena, Pinacoteca Nazionale; Volpe, no. 104). Saint Peter is similar in type to the saint behind Christ in the Triumphal Entry to Jerusalem at Assisi.

Lorenzetti's types are relatively consistent, but the close parallels with elements of the Assisi cycle and a certain kinship with the art of Simone Martini, for example in the sword, point to a date relatively early in Lorenzetti's independent career. On the basis of a photograph Professor Mauro Lucco (correspondence of 1 April 2012) endorses the attribution and suggests that the panel is of about 1315, pointing out that the agemina treatment of the robes seems to anticipate that of the Seattle polyptych (Volpe, op. cit., no. 95). He subsequently endorsed the suggestion that the panel was the predella below the Madonna and Child enthroned with a Donor at Philadelphia (126 x 75.6 cm.; Volpe, no. 92; C.B. Strehlke, Italian Paintings, 1250-1450, in the John G. Johnson Collection and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 2004, pp. 215-23; fig. 1), a view also accepted by Carl Brandon Strehlke. The two works are stylistically very similar: and the panel of this predella, the grain of which is vertical, would appear to be compatible with that at Philadelphia, which is described in detail by Strehlke. The Philadelphia picture has been said to have been in the Chigi-Saracini collection, but was seen by Perkins with Torrini at Siena, circa 1900. It was clearly the central element of a polyptych, although until the emergence of this predella no other section of the complex had been identified. Strehlke tentatively associated the panel with a document of 1319 relating to a commission for an altarpiece of unspecified authorship for the church of Santa Maria dei Servi in Siena.

title

Pietro Lorenzetti (active Siena, circa 1306-45)

prelot

THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN

department

Old Master & British Paintings

dimensions

12¾ x 27¾ in. (32.2 x 70.4 cm.)

provenance

(Possibly) purchased in Italy by Francis Thomas de Grey Cowper, 7th Earl Cowper (1834-1905), Panshanger, Hertfordshire; and by descent through his niece, Ethel, Lady Desborough.


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

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