National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew Duccio di Buoninsegna (painter)
Sienese, c. 1250/1255 - 1318/1319
The Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew, 1308-1311
tempera on panel
painted surface: 42.7 × 45.5 cm (16 13/16 × 17 15/16 in.) overall: 43.3 × 46.2 × 4.4 cm (17 1/16 × 18 3/16 × 1 3/4 in.) framed: 53.3 x 55.9 x 4.4 cm (21 x 22 x 1 3/4 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
On View
From the Tour: Byzantine Art and Painting in Italy during the 1200s and 1300s
Object 4 of 8


NGA 1939.1.141 formed part of the rear predella of Duccio's double-sided altarpiece the Maestà, which was in the course of execution by October 1308 and was placed on the high altar of the Cathedral of Siena on 30 June 1311;[1] the altarpiece was removed from the cathedral in 1506, first stored by the Cathedral authorities, and then later displayed on the wall of the left transept, close to the altar of Saint Sebastian, but probably by this time the predella and gable panels had already been separated from it;[2] the altarpiece was moved to the church of Sant'Ansano in 1777, where its two sides were separated and returned to the cathedral;[3] in 1798 the gables and eight panels of the predella were reported as being housed in the sacristy of the cathedral, whereas the rest, including NGA 1939.1.141, must already have been in private hands;[4] Giuseppe and Marziale Dini, Colle Val d'Elsa (Siena), by 1879;[5] purchased 1886 by (Charles Fairfax Murray [1849-1919], London and Florence) for Robert Henry [1850-1929] and Evelyn Holford [1856-1943] Benson, London and Buckhurst Park, Sussex;[6] sold 1927 with the entire Benson collection to (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London, New York, and Paris);[7] sold 1 October 1928 to Clarence H. Mackay [1874-1938], Roslyn, New York;[8] sold 1934 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York;[9] gift 1939 to NGA.

[1] The documents are published in Jane Immler Satkowski, Duccio di Boninsegna. The Documents and Early Sources, ed. Hayden B.J. Maginnis, Atlanta, 2000: 69-81, and in Allesandro Bagnoli et al., eds. Duccio: Siena fra tradizione bizantina e mondo gotico, Milan, 2003.: 577-579.

[2] See Alessandro Lisini, “Notizie di Duccio pittore e della sua celebre ancona,” Bullettino senese di storia patria 5 (1898): 24-25. According to this author, in 1506 the altarpiece "venne confinata in certi mezzanini dell'Opera [del Duomo]...e per introdurvela fu necessario di togliere tutte le cuspidi e gli accessori" ("was stored in certain passages in the Opera del Duomo...and to enter there it was necessary to cut off all the pinnacles and accessories"). This latter term presumably comprises the predella. Lisini stated that only "sulla fine del secolo" - i.e., at the end of the sixteenth century - was the painting brought back to the cathedral. In Giovanna Ragionieri's opinion, however, the altarpiece had already been returned to the cathedral in 1536 and installed near the altar of Saint Sebastian. See Giovanna Ragionieri, in Duccio: Siena fra tradizione bizantina e mondo gotico, ed. Alessandro Bagnoli et al., Siena, 2003: 212.

[3] See Pèleo Bacci, Francesco da Valdambrino, Emulo del Ghiberti e collaboratore di Jacopo della Quercia, Siena, 1936: 185-186. The author did not mention the gables and predella; these had probably been separated earlier from the rest of the altarpiece (see the previous note). After the separation of the two sides of the main panel, the front with the image of the Madonna and Child enthroned in majesty surrounded by saints and angels was hung in its former place in the left transept, and the narrative scenes of the back were hung in the opposite transept.

[4] See Bacci 1936, 187. Vittorio Lusini specified that, apart from the twelve scenes of the gable, eight panels of the predella were present in the sacristy at this time, i.e., one more than the predella panels now preserved in the Museo dell'Opera Metropolitana del Duomo in Siena. The identity of this eighth scene is uncertain, but presumably it was different from those that reappeared in private hands in the second half of the nineteenth century. See Vittorio Lusini, Il Duomo di Siena, 2 vols., Siena, 1911-1939: 2:77. The seven predella panels now in the Siena cathedral museum represent the Adoration of the Magi, the Presentation in the Temple, the Massacre of the Innocents, the Flight into Egypt, and Christ among the Doctors from the front predella, and the Temptation on the Temple and the Wedding at Cana from the rear predella. James Archer Crowe and Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle, around the mid-nineteenth century, were only able to see six predella panels in the sacristy of the cathedral: the much damaged Temptation on the Temple and the eighth panel of unknown subject were no longer there. See Joseph Archer Crowe and Giovan Battista Cavalcaselle, A New History of Painting in Italy from the Second to the Sixteenth Century, 3 vols., London, 1864: 2:44 n. 1. Curt H. Weigelt discovered Temptation on the Temple in the storerooms of the Opera del Duomo in 1909, whereas the eighth panel has so far not been identified. See Curt H. Weigelt, “Contributo alla ricostruzione della Maestà di Duccio di Buoninsegna nel Museo della Metropolitana di Siena,” Bullettino senese di storia patria 16, no. 2 (1909): 191-214. The predella, its many panels now divided among various museums in the world, was probably disposed of by the Opera del Duomo during the eighteenth century, and was at first privately owned in Siena.

[5] The painting was exhibited in Colle Val d’Elsa in 1879 as the property of Giuseppe and Marziale Dini, together with three other predella panels: The Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew framed together with the Raising of Lazarus, now in the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, and the Temptation on the Mountain (Frick Collection, New York) framed together with the Christ and the Woman of Samaria, now in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.

[6] Fern Rusk Shapley (Catalogue of the Italian Paintings, 2 vols., Washington, D.C., 1979: 1:172 n. 2) quotes the following annotation written by Benson in his personal copy of the catalogue of his collection: “In 1886 I gave a commission to C. Fairfax Murray to spend £ 2000 for me in Italy. These 4 Duccios were part of the spoils.” This information was supplied by Benson’s grandson, Peter Wake, in a letter of 2 February 1976, to Anna Voris (in NGA curatorial files).

[7] See Tancred Borenius, “The Benson collection,” Apollo 6 (1927): 65-70, and Duveen Brothers Records, accession number 960015, Special Collections, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles: reel 206, box 351, folders 2 and 3; reel 207, box 352, folders 1 and 2 (copies in NGA curatorial files).

[8] Duveen Brothers Records, accession number 960015, Special Collections, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Series I Business Records, New York Sales Lists 1922-1928. The painting was in the Mackay collection in Roslyn, New York (Royal Cortissoz, “The Clarence H. Mackay Collection,” International Studio 40 (December 1929): 120), whereas the Raising of Lazarus together with the Christ and the Woman of Samaria were bought by John D. Rockfeller, Jr. for his collection in New York, and the Temptation on the Mountain was acquired for the Frick Collection, also in New York. Not long after its acquisition, financial difficulties obliged Mackay gradually to sell off parts of his collection, and Duveen Brothers, Inc. assisted him in this effort (see Edward Fowles, Memories of Duveen Brothers, London, 1976:157, and the Duveen Brothers Records, reels 336–339). The NGA painting had been offered—unsuccessfully—to Samuel H. Kress in 1932 (see Colin Simpson, The Partnership. The Secret Association of Bernard Berenson and Joseph Duveen, London, 1987: 236).

[9] Shapley 1979, 1:172.

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