TUSCANY - Florence
FILE : S. Croce C. Museum 2
TITLE : Aaron (?)

LOCATION: Firenze S. Croce Church, Museum

DIMENSIONS: tondo diam. cm 85

PROVENANCE: The panel comes from, a window (lost) executed for the two-lancets window in the southern nave bay, next to the transept (Wind. s VIII). The transept was almost certainly finished by 1310 and (proceeding, as usual, to build the church from the apse to the façade) in that year, or not further than 1314, the two bays of the naves adjacent to the transept and their two-lancet windows (window n X and sVIII) were ended up. Some years later, through the eighth decade of the ‘300, two chapels were joined at the outside walls by the two bays, respectively in the north, the Salviati Chapel, in the south the Castellani Chapel with the consequent partial closing of both the two-lancet windows. The tondo was taken off its original location in 1940, at the outbreak of the second world war, when the windows corpus in S. Croce was dismantled in order to protect them from possible damages; afterwards, at the end of the conflict, they were settled in the Museum.

CHRONOLOGY: 1305 –1310 c.

AUTHOR: Giotto (attribution)


SUBJECT/S : Uncertain is the identification of the protagonist. Bescherucci states it’s a deacon, for Boskovits it’s an apostle(1984). Recently, the same Boskovits has proposed a new identification with Aaron during the presentation of the panel at Giotto exhibition (2000). In fact, the old man is wearing a mantle similar to a cope and in the right hand is holding a rod like a sceptre , attributes that suits the figure of Aaron, the principle priest of the Old Testament, whose iconography presents the attribute of the rod given to his brother Moses by the Lord and with which the two brothers did several miracles.

CRITICAL NOTES: The four lunettes and the tondo now in the museum ( see Firenze S. Croce Church 3,4,5 6 ) beside having the same size, they also have a symmetric composition. So, Boskovits, unlike Bescherucci, suggests that the panels all come from the two two-lancet windows closed (Wind.. nX and sVIII).

Some formal proceedings like the superimposition of the halos on the frame listels brought Boskovits to attribute the panels to the same workshop. Following the famous passage by Cennini who limits the work of the glazier merely to the execution of the cartoons, sketched by the painter that takes part as well to the execution, Boskovits attributes the panels to the same workshop but distinguishing two master painters: One, close to the Master of the Horne Triptyc, (as Marchini has already noted), to whom he assigns the two lancets Pope Saint and Deacon Saint (see Firenze, S. Croce Church Museo 5, 6) that in his opinion are the work of Pacino di Bonaguida. On the other hand, the scholar attributes the three panels left to Giotto, for their considerable artistic quality .

In particular, for the vigorous and intense head of Aaron, Boskovits claims Giotto’s paternity for the precise physiognomic and stylistic affinities with the Prophet Isaiah frescoed in the Arena Chapel, and with various figures painted at St. Francis Basilica in Assisi.

CONDITIONS: In fair conditions.

BIBLIOGRAPHY : ssee S. Croce Bibliography

PHOTOGRAPHIC REF.: Foto Nicolò Orsi Battaglini, Firenze

EDITOR: Caterina Pirina January 2000