Master of the Life of Saint John the Baptist (artist)|
Italian, active second quarter 14th century
Scenes from the Life of Saint John the Baptist, probably 1330/1340
tempera on panel
painted surface: 46.4 × 38.3 cm (18 1/4 × 15 1/16 in.) overall: 48.8 × 40.7 cm (19 3/16 × 16 in.) framed: 55.7 x 48.1 x 5.1 cm (21 15/16 x 18 15/16 x 2 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
Object 7 of 8
Possibly commissioned as part of the high altarpiece of a church dedicated to Saint John the Baptist in Emilia Romagna or in the Marche, Italy. George Edmund Street [1824-1881], London, by 1880; probably by inheritance to his son, Arthur Edmund Street [1855-1938], Bath. Harold Irving Pratt [1877-1939], New York, by 1917. (Wildenstein & Co., Inc., London, New York and Paris); sold 1947 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation; gift 1952 to NGA.
 The painting must have been acquired by Street, the English Gothic Revival architect, together with two other fragments from the same dismantled altarpiece: the Annunciation of the Baptist’s Birth and the Baptist Sending His Disciples to Christ. In addition to the Gallery’s painting, these two panels were also exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1880 (nos. 231 and 234). Both were presented anew at an exhibition in Bristol in 1937 as the property of Street’s son in Bath. But since then all trace of them has been lost: it is possible these two were destroyed in a bombardment that struck the Street family’s house during World War II; see Richard Offner, A Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting. Sec. III, vol. V, The Fourteenth Century. Bernardo Daddi and his circle (Brattleboro, 1947), 2nd edition: Miklós Boskovits, assisted by Ada Labriola and Martina Ingedaay Rodio, Florence, 2001: 472, citing information provided by Federico Zeri. The date of Street’s acquisition of the panels is uncertain; perhaps it occurred between the dates of the first and second edition of his book Brick and Marble in the Middle Ages. Notes of a Tour in the North of Italy, London, 1855 (Brick and Marble in the Middle Ages. Notes of Tours in the North of Italy, London, 1874). In the first edition the author shows little interest in painting, but in the preface to the second he recalls his many visits to Italy and draws the reader’s attention to the publication of James Archer Crowe and Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle, A New History of Painting in Italy from the Second to the Sixteenth Century, London, 1864-1871.
 Exactly when the panel passed into the collection of Pratt, the American oil industrialist and philanthropist, is also uncertain. Reports of this collection are found from 1909 onward (see Edward Fowles, Memories of Duveen Brothers, London, 1976: 33). Pratt lent the painting to a 1917 exhibition at Kleinberger Galleries in New York, from whom he possibly acquired it. By the time of the 1947 exhibition of Italian paintings at Wildenstein's in New York, it was no longer in the Pratt collection: the catalogue lists the owner as Wildenstein.
 The bill of sale (copy in NGA curatorial files) from Wildenstein & Co. to the Kress Foundation for thirteen paintings and one tapestry room is dated 30 October 1947; payment was made in installments. The painting is described as by Giovanni Baronzio da Rimini.
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