The Virgin and Child here are strictly frontal, remote, and hieratic. They are depicted using a limited range of color and outlined by heavy contour lines. Jesus looks more like a miniature adult than an infant. The gold striations of his robe also come from Byzantine convention, and Mary’s triangular crown, with long bejeweled dangles at the sides, is an Eastern form. The very composition of Margaritone’s painting is based on an icon type: the Virgin Nikopoios, or Victory Maker. The original icon was believed to confer victory on Byzantine armies and to repel invading barbarians. It did not repel the Crusaders, however, who transported the icon to the Basilica of San Marco in Venice.
The Madonna is portrayed in a rigidly frontal position, seated on a throne without any backrest and of a shape similar to those that mainly appear in paintings of the first half of the thirteenth century.
In his study on the typology of thrones, James H. Stubblebine classified the one represented in Margaritone’s panel in his first group, that of thrones without backrest, essentially flat and consisting “of a series of alternately projecting and receding bands decorated with abstract designs.” This form generally appears in paintings datable within or not much later than the mid-thirteenth century, yet Stubblebine believed that the painting (in his view executed in the third quarter of the century) could also be placed in it, because of the archaizing tendencies of its master, in his view “sufficiently removed from a vital, creative center, to miss most of the progressive trends” of the art of his time. See James H. Stubblebine, “The Development of the Throne in Dugento Tuscan Painting,” Marsyas 7 (1954–1957): 26. But, apart from the consideration that Arezzo in the thirteenth century could justly be considered a very lively cultural center (cf. Wieruszowski 1953; repro. in Wieruszowski 1971), the thrones of the versions of the Madonna now respectively in Arezzo and Washington are very similar to those reproduced in such works as the so-called Madonna dagli occhi grossi in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Siena, datable to the second decade (cf. Butzek 2001), or the Pala di San Zanobi in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence, executed within the 1220s (cf. Boskovits 1993). See Helene Wieruszowski, “Arezzo as a Center of Learning and Letters in the Thirteenth Century,” Traditio 9 (1953): 321–391; Helene Wieruszowski, Politics and Culture in Medieval Spain and Italy, Storia e letteratura (Rome, 1971), 387–474; Monica Butzek, “Per la storia delle due Madonne delle Grazie nel Duomo di Siena,” Prospettiva 103–104 (2001): 97–109; Miklós Boskovits, A Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting, sec. 1, vol. 1, The Origins of Florentine Painting, 1100–1270 (Florence, 1993), 89–95. The difference between the thrones of these earlier images and that painted by Margaritone consists merely in the slight bending upwards of the upper section of the throne, a device that should probably be understood as an attempt at foreshortening and hence a vague allusion to the three-dimensionality of the throne’s seat. By contrast, works securely dated after the midcentury, such as Coppo di Marcovaldo’s Madonna of 1261 in the church of the Servi in Siena, or that attributed both to Dietisalvi di Speme and to Guido da Siena in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Siena, executed one year later, present thrones supported by massive legs formed of the superimposition of elements of geometric form and others imitating plant motifs. Cf. Miklós Boskovits, A Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting, sec. 1, vol. 1, The Origins of Florentine Painting, 1100–1270 (Florence, 1993), 510–523; and Piero Torriti, La Pinacoteca Nazionale di Siena, vol. 1, I dipinti dal XII al XV secolo (Genoa, 1977), 22–23. The same features are also found in other images datable to the same years, such as the mosaic Madonna in the scarsella (chancel) of the Baptistery of Florence or Meliore’s Pala at Panzano. Cf. Miklós Boskovits, A Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting, sec. 1, vol. 2, The Mosaics of the Baptistery of Florence (Florence, 2007), 224–240; and Boskovits, Corpus, sec. 1, vol. 1, 631–641. Whatever value one wants to attribute to this evidence, the form of a throne similar to the one described in the panel now in the National Gallery of Art strongly suggests a date not much later than the mid-thirteenth century.
Terms that refer broadly to the study of subjects and themes in works of art. Iconology, which is based on the results of iconography, is the more wide-ranging and comprehensive. One of the principal concerns of iconography is the discovery of symbolic and allegorical meanings in a work of art. —Willem F. Lash, Grove Art © Oxford University Press
Cf. Olenka Z. Pevny, in The Glory of Byzantium: Art and Culture of the Middle Byzantine Era, A.D. 843–1261, ed. Helen C. Evans and William D. Wixom (New York, 1997), 140–141.
Edward B. Garrison, Italian Romanesque Panel Painting: An Illustrated Index (Florence, 1949), 89–95, listed no fewer than thirty examples of this type of image, a number certainly lower than that of the paintings of this kind now known. Significantly, the panels now cited in this category are all, with the exception of seven, Tuscan in origin. Garrison’s datings now seem too late. There are good grounds for assuming that the great majority of the panels in question date roughly to the years between the second half of the twelfth and approximately the mid-thirteenth century.
Cf. Carlo Cecchelli, Mater Christi, 4 vols., Oriente e Occidente (Rome, 1946), 1:158–159. The popularity of this attribute probably derives at least in part from the well-known Marian hymn “Ave maris stella”; see Hermann Adalbert Daniel, Thesaurus hymnologicus sive Hymnorum, canticorum, sequentiarum circa annum MD usitatarum collectio amplissima (Halis, 1841), 204–206.
The image of Mary as queen was familiar and widespread in Roman art since the sixth century. The iconography of the regina coeli was used ever more frequently in the early medieval period; cf. Gerard A. Wellen, “Das Marienbild der frühchr. Kunst,” in Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie, ed. Engelbert Kirschbaum and Günter Bandmann, 8 vols. (Rome, 1971), 3:158. In this case, too, hymns like the “Salve Regina” undoubtedly contributed to the dissemination of representations of Mary with the crown on her head. See Fernand Cabrol and Henri Leclercq, “Salve regina,” in Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie (Paris, 1950), 15-1:714–724; on the images, see Marion Lawrence, “Maria Regina,” The Art Bulletin 7 (1925): 150–161. In an article on the subject, Sonia Chiodo observed that the peculiar type of crown present in Margaritone’s versions of the Madonna corresponds to the imperial type that also appears in some seals of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. She attributed a possible political significance to the use of the motif and linked its appearance with the period of Guglielmino degli Ubertini (1248–1289) as bishop of Arezzo. Guglielmino was an ardent supporter of the pro-papal Guelph party in the investiture controversy. See Sonia Chiodo, “Maria regina nelle opere di Margarito d’Arezzo,” in Medioevo: La chiesa e il palazzo; Atti del convegno internazionale di studi, Parma, September 20 – 24, 2005, ed. Arturo Carlo Quintavalle (Milan, 2007), 598–603.
In representations of similar type, the figures of saints, if present at all, always appear, as they do here, on a scale considerably smaller than that of the Virgin and child; they hover against the gold
The layer or layers used to prepare the support to hold the paint.
As in some panels of the Bigallo Master in the Villa la Quiete near Florence and in the Museum at Certaldo. Cf. Miklós Boskovits, A Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting, sec. 1, vol. 1, The Origins of Florentine Painting, 1100–1270 (Florence 1993), 312–315, 350–352; Rosanna Caterina Proto Pisani, ed., Il Museo di Arte Sacra a Certaldo (Bagno a Ripoli 2001), 28. The same arrangement of disembodied saints hovering to the sides of the central image is also found, however, in a few other paintings dating as late as the second half of the century.
Joseph Archer Crowe and Giovan Battista Cavalcaselle, Geschichte der italienischen Malerei, ed. Deutsche Original-Ausgabe, 6 vols. (Leipzig, 1869–1876), 1:156, and later editions, thought that the saints in question were Bruno and Benedict above and two Cistercian monks below. Lionello Venturi, Pitture italiane in America (Milan, 1931), no. 7 and later edition, accepted the identity of Saint Benedict in the black-habited figure in the upper right but identified the figure facing him on the left side as Saint John the Evangelist and the two female saints in the lower order as Mary Magdalene and Martha. Edward B. Garrison, Italian Romanesque Panel Painting: An Illustrated Index (Florence, 1949), 49, conjecturally proposed John the Evangelist for the saint in the upper left and referred to the two female saints in the lower row as two martyr saints. Fern Rusk Shapley, Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Italian Schools, XIII–XV Century (London, 1966), 3–13, passim, identified the upper saints as John and Benedict and conjectured that the female figures in the lower row were two of the wise Virgins (cf. 25 Mt:1–13). The pointed cowl of the saint in the upper right might make one think of Saint Francis. On the other hand, the wide sleeves of the saint’s habit and the fact that he is not wearing the cord around his habit that Franciscans used as a belt suggests that he is a Benedictine monk, probably the founder of the Benedictine order. As for the saint facing him on the opposite side, there are no attributes or other features that might help to identify him, other than his youth. Given that the panel is by a painter from Arezzo, the two women with the lamps in their hands and wearing the crown of martyrdom can be identified as Saints Flora and Lucilla, much venerated in that city and its area. They are also represented with the same attributes and with the crown on their head in the panel by Margaritone and Ristoro at Monte San Savino and in a Quattrocento dossal still preserved—though now in fragmentary state—in the church in Arezzo dedicated to the two female saints; cf. Anna Maria Maetzke, in Arte nell’Aretino: Recuperi e restauri dal 1968 al 1974, ed. Lionello G. Boccia et al. (Florence, 1974), 25; and George Kaftal, Saints in Italian Art, vol. 1, Iconography of the Saints in Tuscan Painting (Florence, 1952), 641–642. Their presence would perhaps permit the hypothesis that the young saint not clearly identifiable could be Eugenius, on whom see Giuseppe Palazzini, “Lucilla, Flora, Eugenio e compagni,” in Bibliotheca sanctorum, 12 vols. (Rome, 1967), 8:275–276.
It is a measure of the change in taste over the last two centuries that the panel, to which Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle and James Archer Crowe in 1886 conceded only that it is “one of the least ugly paintings left by this painter,” was hailed by Robert Lehman forty years later (1928) as “a supreme achievement of the art of the pre-giottesque period.”
Joseph Archer Crowe and Giovan Battista Cavalcaselle, Storia della pittura in Italia dal secolo II al secolo XVI, 11 vols. (Florence, 1886–1908), 1:291; Robert Lehman, The Philip Lehman Collection, New York (Paris, 1928), no. 1.
Robert Lehman, The Philip Lehman Collection, New York (Paris, 1928), no. 1; Ugo Galetti and Ettore Camesasca, Enciclopedia della pittura italiana, 3 vols. (Milan, 1951), 2:1661.
According to Anna Maria Maetzke, the panel in the National Gallery of Art “potrebbe essere solo una derivazione di bottega,” i.e., a workshop product derived from the prototype represented by the Madonna of Montelungo now in the Museo Statale d’Arte Medievale e Moderna, Arezzo. See Maetzke, in Arte nell’Aretino: Recuperi e restauri dal 1968 al 1974, ed. Lionello G. Boccia et al. (Florence, 1974), 16. Subsequently, Hanna Kiel called the Madonna in Washington a weak variant of that of Montelungo, while Stefania Ricci classified it, albeit conjecturally, as a product of Margarito’s shop. Cf. Hanna Kiel, “Review of Arte nell’Aretino, recuperi e restauri dal 1968 al 1974,” Pantheon 33 (1975): 174–175; Stefania Ricci, “Margarito d’Arezzo,” in La Pittura in Italia: Il Duecento e il Trecento, ed. Enrico Castelnuovo, 2 vols. (Milan, 1986), 2:634.
Edward Garrison (1949), the first to tackle the problem of dating, proposed a date of c. 1270, followed by NGA (1965), Fern Rusk Shapley (1966), and NGA (1985); Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti (1955, 1969) suggested 1260, and Anna Maria Maetzke (1974), c. 1250. In a later moment, Shapley too (1979) preferred an earlier dating, 1250–1270, while Ada Labriola (1987) indicated c. 1240 as the most probable date. Miklós Boskovits (1993) pushed back the date even further and proposed the years between the fourth and fifth decade of the century. John Richardson (1996), for his part, restated the later dating, between 1265 and 1275. See Edward B. Garrison, Italian Romanesque Panel Painting: An Illustrated Index (Florence, 1949), 94; National Gallery of Art, Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture (Washington, DC, 1965), 83; Fern Rusk Shapley, Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Italian Schools, XIII–XV Century (London, 1966), 3; National Gallery of Art, European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue (Washington, DC, 1985), 250; Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti, Pittura del Dugento a Firenze (Florence, 1955), 35; Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti, ed., L’Arte in Italia, vol. 3, Dal secolo XII al secolo XIII (Rome, 1969), 942; Anna Maria Maetzke, in Arte nell’Aretino: Recuperi e restauri dal 1968 al 1974, ed. Lionello G. Boccia et al. (Florence, 1974), 16; Fern Rusk Shapley, Catalogue of the Italian Paintings, 2 vols. (Washington, DC, 1979), 1:301; Ada Labriola, “Ricerche su Margarito e Ristoro d’Arezzo,” Arte cristiana 75 (1987): 148; Miklós Boskovits, A Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting, sec. 1, vol. 1, The Origins of Florentine Painting, 1100–1270 (Florence, 1993), 73 n. 145; John Richardson, “Margarito d’Arezzo,” in The Dictionary of Art, ed. Jane Turner, 34 vols. (New York, 1996), 20:407.
The stylistic affinities among the Madonna Enthroned from Montelungo (now in the Museum in Arezzo), that of the National Gallery in London, and the panel discussed here have often been emphasized. These versions are sharply differentiated from a fourth representation of the theme
I refer to Giunta’s style in his phase of full maturity, when the painter strongly felt the classicizing tendencies of Byzantine painting. Another Tuscan painting realized shortly after the mid-thirteenth century, in which the influence of Byzantine neo-Hellenism is strongly felt and which is often considered an isolated expression of the byzantinizing tendency in Sienese art, is the Pala del Battista, no. 14 in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Siena. Cf. Angelo Tartuferi, Giunta Pisano (Soncino, 1991), 23–24; Miklós Boskovits, “Sulle tracce di un grande pittore toscano di metà Duecento,” Arte cristiana 98 (2010): 241–252.
The lion supports allude, of course, to the throne of King Solomon, with “stays [arm rests] on each side of the sitting place, and two lions standing by the stays” (2 Chron 9:18). From the point of view of the typological development of the throne, this type is a more fanciful variant of the kind that appeared around the midcentury, which is no longer a compact form but supported by legs (cf. note 1 above).
There can be little doubt, therefore, that the Madonna from Monte San Savino should be several years later in date than the others, and that they in turn are close to one another, not only in pictorial idiom but probably also in date of execution. Nonetheless, some differences can be observed among the three similar versions of the Virgin Nikopoios painted by Margaritone. The Madonna in London presents the protagonist with more robust forms than the others, and here too Mary is seated on a throne supported by lions. She is wearing a vermilion red dress, in contrast to the deep violet, perhaps intended to imitate imperial purple,
The NGA scientific research department analyzed the paint in the Madonna’s robe of the Gallery painting using x-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF). The analysis indicated that dye-based pigments such as red lake and indigo probably were used in this area (see report dated July 27, 2006, in NGA conservation files).
Though they resemble each other closely, some differences can be observed between the paintings in Arezzo and Washington. The oval face of the Madonna
How can these observations be reconciled with our current knowledge of the development of Tuscan painting in the thirteenth century and with the very few dates known to us on the activity of the Aretine master? The fragmentary date of the Monte San Savino panel, which in its present state can only be read as “M.C.C.L[...]III,”
The date has recently been interpreted as “M.CCL[…]III” by Grazia Maria Fachechi, “Margarito (Margaritone) d’Arezzo,” in Dizionario biografico degli italiani, 82 vols. (Rome, 2008), 70:108.
In 1236, Giunta signed the now lost painted crucifix in the church of San Francesco at Assisi, and in August 1254 was among those who swore an oath of fidelity to the archbishop of Pisa; cf. Angelo Tartuferi, Giunta Pisano (Soncino, 1991), 9–10. A recently discovered document of 1265 speaks of a piece of land belonging to the artist; this might imply, but cannot prove, that he was still alive at the time. Cf. Miria Fanucci Lovitch, Artisti attivi a Pisa fra XIII e XVIII secolo (Pisa, 1991), 161.
The painted crucifix attributable to the Master of Santa Chiara (or Master of Donna Benedetta) in the church of San Francesco at Arezzo, and that of Cimabue in the church of San Domenico in the same city, probably date to the 1260s or shortly thereafter. Cf. Filippo Todini, “Pittura del Duecento e del Trecento in Umbria e il cantiere di Assisi,” in La Pittura in Italia: Il Duecento e il Trecento, ed. Enrico Castelnuovo, 2 vols. (Milan, 1986), 2:382; Luciano Bellosi, Cimabue, ed. Giovanna Ragionieri (Milan, 1998), 39–44.
Luciano Bellosi and more recent studies placed the now known oeuvre of the anonymous master between the second and fifth decades of the thirteenth century. See Luciano Bellosi, in Collezione Chigi – Saracini: Sassetta e i pittori toscani tra XIII e XV secolo, ed. Luciano Bellosi and Alessandro Angelini (Siena, 1986), 11–15; and Silvia Colucci, in La collezione Salini: Dipinti, sculture e oreficerie dei secoli XII, XIII, XIV e XV, ed. Luciano Bellosi, 2 vols. (Florence, 2009), 35–43.
See Miklós Boskovits, A Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting, sec. 1, vol. 1, The Origins of Florentine Painting, 1100–1270 (Florence, 1993), 312–316.
For these frescoes, see Antonio Iacobini, “La pittura e le arti suntuarie: Da Innocenzo III a Innocenzo IV (1198–1254),” in Roma nel Duecento: L’arte nella città dei papi da Innocenzo III a Bonifacio VIII, ed. Angiola Maria Romanini (Turin, 1991), 237–403. As far as can be deduced from comparison with his paintings of a previous decade in Anagni Cathedral, the master who frescoed the chapel of San Silvestro in 1246 could not have been young at that time. His identification with the so-called Maestro ornatista of Anagni still remains a topic of discussion, but the stylistic relationship of those mural cycles is generally recognized. See Enrico Parlato and Serena Romano, Roma e Lazio: Il Romanico (Milan, 2001), 131.
Miklós Boskovits (1935–2011)
March 21, 2016
across the bottom: MARGARIT[VS DE A]RITIO ME FECIT (Margaritus of Arezzo made me) 
 The NGA scientific research department analyzed the signature using cross-sections and found a layer containing lead white between the gesso and the paint. This layer was not present in cross-sections taken from the main body of the painting. In addition, there were numerous layers of paint in each signature cross-section. This indicates that the signature has been repainted several times. It is unclear whether there was originally a signature in this area, as is found in almost all of Margarito’s paintings that have come down to us. If there was, the current inscription may not bear any resemblance to it (see report dated April 24, 2007, in NGA conservation files). Alessio Monciatti’s comparative paleographical analysis (2010), however, showed the inscription very similar to those existing on the artist’s other paintings. See Alessio Monciatti, “Margarito, l’artista e il mito,” in Arte in terra d’Arezzo: Il Medioevo, edited by Marco Collareta and Paola Refice, Florence, 2010: 213-224.
Executed for the church of a Benedictine monastery in the area of Arezzo, possibly for the Badia delle Sante Flora e Lucilla near the city walls; probably (art market, Rome); acquired by William Blundell Spence [1814–1900], Florence and London, by 1859; Ralph Nicholson Wornum [1812–1877], London, by 1865. Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers [1827–1900], Rushmore House and King John’s House, Tollard Royal, Wiltshire, by 1894; by descent to his grandson, George Henry Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers [1890–1966], Hinton St. Mary, Dorset, by 1926. (Robert Langton Douglas [1864–1951], London); (Arthur Ruck, London); sold to Philip Lehman [1861–1947], New York, by 1928; sold June 1943 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1952 to NGA.
- Pictures by Italian, Spanish, Flemish, Dutch, French, and English Masters, British Institution, London, 1865, no. 75, as The Madonna and Child, enthroned with Saints Bruno and Benedict, and Two Cistercian Nuns as Wise Virgins.
- Recent Additions to the Kress Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1946, no. 807.
The wooden support is formed of two panels: a larger rectangular one, made from at least two planks of vertical grain, and a smaller, roughly circular panel for the Virgin’s halo. The halo extension has a point where it attaches to the main panel. The reverse of the main panel is reinforced with a
Attaching a woodent grid to the reverse of a panel to prevent the panel's warping.
Before the execution of the painting, the panel was covered with a fabric interleaf and a thick layer of
A mixture of finely ground plaster and glue applied to wood panels to create a smooth painting surface. —Grove Art © Oxford University Press
The NGA scientific research department analyzed the painting with x-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF), and silver was identified in the background, the Madonna’s halo, and the edges of Christ’s halo (see report dated September 28, 2004, in NGA conservation files).
The NGA scientific research department analyzed the paint with x-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF). Analysis did not show the presence of any red or blue pigments in the Madonna’s purple robe, indicating that dye-based pigments probably were used. These pigments likely have faded, leading one to believe that the Madonna’s robe was originally purple (see report dated July 27, 2006, in NGA conservation files).
The silver leaf is heavily worn, and much of it appears to have been scraped away, revealing the
The layer or layers used to prepare the support to hold the paint.
Application of restoration paint to areas of lost original paint to visually integrate an area of loss with the color and pattern of the original, without covering any original paint.
See Fern Rusk Shapley, Catalogue of the Italian Paintings, 2 vols. (Washington, DC, 1979), 1:302. The photograph published by Robert Lehman shows the panel in a condition similar to its current state; Robert Lehman, The Philip Lehman Collection, New York (Paris, 1928), no. 1. Sometime earlier it must have already been treated. In fact, an old photograph shows the Madonna inserted in a heavy frame and with some small differences in the appearance of the painted surface. The most remarkable of these is that the cowl covering the head of Saint Benedict does not have the pointed top now visible.
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- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 67, no. 5, color repro.
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- Davies, Martin, and Dillian Gordon. National Gallery Catalogues. The Earlier Italian Schools. Rev. ed. London, 1988: 68.
- Wheeler, Marion, ed. His Face--Images of Christ in Art: Selections from the King James Version of the Bible. New York, 1988: 126, no. 22, color repro.
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