TUSCANY - Florence
FILE : Church of  S. Croce 10
TITLE : St. Louis of Toulouse and of France.

LOCATION: Firenze, S. Croce church - window n X, Bardi Chapel.

PROVENANCE: original location.


CHRONOLOGY: 1332-35.

AUTHOR: Taddeo Gaddi (attribution)

ASSIGNMENT: Bardi family.

SUBJECT: (referred to the iconographic sequence) a1) Blessed Umiliana de’Cerchi. Inscription BEATA VMILIANA DE CERCHIS VIDVA TER. ORD. S. FRANCI(sc)I; b 1) St. Bonaventure. Inscription S. BONAVENTVRA CARDINAL ECCLESIAE DOCTOR ORD. MIN.; a 2) St. Gregory. Inscription S. GREGORIVS MAGNVS PON. MAXIMVS ET ECC(lesi)AE DOCTOR; b 2) St. Bernardino. Inscrption S. BERNARDINVS SENESIS CONFESSOR ORDINIS MIN.; a 3) St. Louis of France. Incscription above the figure SANCTVS LVDOVICVS REX FRANCIE [sic]. Inscription at bottom of the figure INDVIT EUM D(o)M(i)N(u)S LORICAM FIDEI ET ORD(in)AVIT EUM; b 3) St. Ludovic of Toulouse. Inscription S. LVDOVICVS ET CONFESSOR ET EPISCOPVS ORD. MIN.; a 4) Enthroned Christ; b 4) Enthroned Virgin ; ab 5) in the oculus Bardi di Vernio’s arms.

CRITICAL NOTES: A first attribution to Agnolo Gaddi is by Van Straelen (1938), following also what had been affirmed by Vasari. Instead, the assignment of the work to Taddeo Gaddi is by Marchini (1968) and is still shared by the critics. The Baroncelli Chapel’s window is as well given to Taddeo Gaddi, contemporary of the frescoes (1328-1332) (see Firenze S. Croce 8). In line with Marchini, Boskovitz assigned to Gaddi also the left frescoes in the vault of the present Bardi Chapel, dating the work to 1335 according to the inscription on the gate. As for the chronology, the matter was deeply studied by Hueck (1976) thanks to a document found (Firenze, Archivio Ginori Lisci, cod.183, f. 109) where Gualterotto di Jacopo Bardi is cited as the patron of the Chapel; he made payments from 1332 and 1335 for its decorations, regarded by Ladis (1982) as munificent payments so that maybe they include the whole complex of frescoes and windows, of the gate and an altar piece. Furthermore, the author points out the similarity of the style with Taddeo Gaddi’s, more here than in the frescoes of the Chapel.

Finally, the attribution to Gaddi is also shared by Long (1988) and Thompson (1999).

The window, unlike its ‘twin’ , located in the same Bardi Chapel (see Firenze S. Croce), where there was an inscription of the two executors names, Gerardino Pillecti e Ubaldo de vitro da Firenze, do not show any reference to its authors. Perhaps the executors were the same for both the windows of the chapel and the fact that there is no mention of them is maybe due to the complete remaking of it , preventing any attempt of stylistic and technical analysis of the work, as already noticed by Thompson.

It was impossible for Thompson to study the window proceeding in the same way she did for the ‘twin’ window of the chapel, where she lingered over the technical features of the execution, very important to the complete stylistic output of the work. In fact, the execution is not a mere transcription from the drawings, as it needs further interpretations and adjustments to the glass, depending upon both the ability and sensitiveness of the Master glazier. Besides, he chose the colours and their matching, the definition of the backgrounds and of the borders, the organization of the architecture, the characterization of the drapery motifs.

Thompson noticed a difference in the colour right in the first window of the chapel (Firenze S. Croce 6) if compared to the almost contemporary works based on the ‘archaic’ contrast between red and blue, as in the Bardi and Tosinghi Spinelli windows (1320-25, for some others can be dated to 1317-34) (see Firenze S. Croce 7 and 13). In the Bardi’s window, the ‘twin’ one, there is more variety in the sequences of green, yellow, purple red and white that seems to anticipate what will be the chromatic intonation of the great stained glass windows of the second half and of the end of the century, as those in the apse of S. Croce by Agnolo Gaddi (about 1380) (see Firenze S. Croce 4 and 5) or those in the naves of the Florentine cathedral (see Firenze Cattedrale 11-14) – drawings by the same Agnolo Gaddi – that seem to be by far the most authentic expression of an almost mature ‘Florentine style’.

As far as the typology of the window is concerned, that belongs to the group of works with an iconic character and with figures framed by an architecture made of gothic canopies.

In fact, such typology, introduced in Italy in the last quarter of the XIII century in the Assisi Upper Basilica, spread over the central regions all through the XIV century and most of the XV, and the works in S. Croce, like the Bardi window with its ‘twin’ above the Tosinghi Spinelli chapel and the Baroncelli window stand for early examples of the Italian reworking of the type.

That revision will last all through the century, showing more and more complex works and focusing much more to the imitation of the real contemporary architecture, and overall more and more refined in the three-dimensional prospective foreshortened from bottom, till reaching the pieces of the same apse in S. Croce, by Agnolo Gaddi (1380) (see Firenze S. Croce 4 and 5); of the Galluzzo Charterhouse by Niccolò di Pietro Gerini, of the naves in S. Maria del Fiore by Antonio di Pisa and Leonardo di Simone on drawings carried out by Gaddi (see Firenze Cattedrale 11-14) and of S. Domenico church in Perugia by Mariotto di Nardo in 1411 (see Perugia S. Domenico 1).

Halfway through the XV century, the need of updating the repertoire started to be felt , as noticed in the the example of the windows in S. Maria del Fiore (1441-43), that will lead to the gradual change of the old gothic type with the more updated forms of the classic-like architecture.

CONDITIONS: the mapping, hard to make in situ, was carried out by Thompson , also thanks to the research during the restoration made by De Matteis (end XIX- beginning XX century) and Tolleri (after the world war II). From that work and from the studies (Bombe, van Straelen, Paatz) they found out that the window had been pulled out from the wall that once close it up and restored ‘all’antica’ by Ulisse de Matteis before 1910. In fact, De Matteis remade all the lower part of the window, with St. Bonaventure, Gregory and Bernard and the Blessed Umiliana. But in the rest of the window little survives of the original: only the faces of the virgin, of St. Louis and St. Ludovic semm to be original, together with the pieces of the thrones, the inscription above St. Louis and part of bottom on the right of St. Ludovic’s head.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: see Bibliography of  FIRENZE – S. CROCE.

PHOTOGRAPHIC FILES: Archivio Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze – published by Nardini.

EDITOR: Marina Del Nunzio (May 2001).