National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

Image: Artistic Exchange: Europe and the Islamic World

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Puccio di Simone
Florentine, active mid 14th-century
Allegretto Nuzi
Umbrian, c. 1315 - 1373
Madonna Enthroned with Saints
c. 1354, tempera on panel
left panel: 90 x 35.5 x 1.3 cm
middle panel: 108.5 x 59.5 x 1.7 cm
right panel: 91 x 34.2 x 1.4 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
Image: Puccio di Simone and Allegretto Nuzi
Madonna Enthroned with Saints, c. 1354
Andrew W. Mellon Collection

Garments in the central and right panels of this altarpiece, both painted by Puccio, illustrate contemporary Italian fascination with new and exotic patterns found in the "Tartar cloths" that were arriving from the Mongol Empire. Versions of the bold Asian design in the saint's tunic on the right, with pairs of exotic animals forming ogival frames around palmettes, can be found in many late fourteenth-century Florentine paintings. On the Christ child's stole, lively Chinese flying phoenixes confront each other amidst plant scrolls. Both patterns had great influence on Italian textile design; the Chinese pattern of tiny plant sprigs on the dais, however, described as "strange" in a papal inventory of 1311, was less admired. The Madonna and the foremost angels also wear fabrics inspired by the "Tartar cloths," but Puccio's addition of pseudo-Arabic bands is unusual.

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