Traditionally attributed to the early sixteenth-century artist Mariotto Albertinelli, this panel was compared by Dr. Scharf with his small- scale triptych in the Museo Poldi-Pezzoli, Milan. It was convincingly attributed to the somewhat older Florentine artistic personality, known as the Master of Apollo and Daphne, by Everett Fahy in 1976: Fahy had previously grouped over twenty panels, some of which had been assigned to Bartolommeo di Giovanni, round two spalliera panels of the Story of Susanna in the Ryerson collection at the Art Institute, Chicago: the late Federico Zeri had independently identified nine of the pictures so grouped by Fahy and another as by his Master of Apollo and Daphne, named after the two scenes from the story of Apollo and Daphne from the Kress Collection in the David and Albert Smart Gallery, University of Chicago. As Fahy demonstrated the painter was an accomplished follower of Domenico Ghirlandaio, much influenced by Bartolommeo di Giovanni's work of the 1480s, who also responded to Botticelli. Pons suggests that the Master, may be identifiable with Giovanni di Benedetto Cimaferini (1462-1542), who has alternatively been proposed as the painter of a group of pictures by an artist close to Lorenzo di Credi, traditionally dubbed 'Tommaso'.
Fahy points out that the Merton picture is a late work by the artist, and that 'a measure of High Renaissance classical style has affected the design' (op. cit., p. 20). He notes that the steps are similar to those on which Daniel stands in one of the Ryerson panels.
The design of the picture reflects that of a number of major Florentine altarpieces of the late quattrocento, and not least those of Ghirlandaio himself. Clearly intended for private devotion, this must -- as the selection of saints implies -- have been commissioned by a patron with strong Dominican links.
The Master of Apollo and Daphne (Giovanni di Benedetto Cimaferini?)
Oil and tempera on panel
Old Master & British Paintings
22¼ in. x 25¼ in.
A. Scharf, A Catalogue of Pictures and Drawings from the Collection of Sir Thomas Merton, F.R.S. at Stubbings House, Maidenhead, London, 1950, no. 1, as Albertinelli.
E. Fahy, Some Followers of Domenico Ghirlandaio, New York and London, 1976, pp. 20 and 109, no. 17, fig. 15, dated to after 1500.
N. Pons, 'Importante opere perdute di pittori fiorentini a Pistoia e una aggiunta al Maestro di Apollo and Daphne', in the exhibition catalogue, Fra Paolino e la pittura a Pistoia nel primo '500, ed. C. D'Affitto, F. Falletti, and A. Muzzi, Pistoia, 1996, p. 52.
Sir Thomas Merton, F.R.S., K.B.E., and by descent.