TUSCANY - Florence
FILE : S. Croce C. Museum 3
TITLE : Deacon martyr saint (a)

LOCATION: Firenze S. Croce Church, Museum

DIMENSIONS: fragment of lunette cm.104 x 86

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 later 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: a beardless young man with tonsured head. He is wearing the dalmatic and is holding the palm, attribute of martyrdom. A more detailed identification cannot be made for the lack of further specific signs.

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. Thus, Boskovits, unlike Bescherucci, suggests that all the panels come from the two two-lancet windows closed (Wind. nX and sVIII).

Marchini already, noting the identity in the drawing between this Deacon Martyr Saint and the other (see Firenze S. Croce Church, Museo 4), suggests they are from the same cartoon . That theory is accepted by the following critics that do not agree the attribution instead. Marchini distinguishes the Pope Saint and Deacon Saint panels (see Firenze S. Croce Church, Museo 5, 6), where he notes "an immature Giotto in their sullen stiffness, corresponding with that called Master of Horne Triptyc". Becherucci instead, claims the Pope Saint and the Deacon works worth of Giotto, whilst the two Deacon Martyr Saints would be feeble replicas.

Some formal proceedings like the superimposition of the halos on the frame listels brought Boskovits to attribute all the five 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; attribution rejected by Bambach, without any precise reasons.

In particular, Boskovits points out how the two Martyr Deacons are alike the figures of Giotto’s cycle in Padua "for the elastic arcane tension of the drawing and a similar sense of volume" . The same intense and pensive expression brings the young deacons together with the Justice and the soldier in the Derision of Christ.

CONDITIONS: In fair conditions.

BIBLIOGRAPHY : see S. Croce Bibliography

PHOTOGRAPHIC REF.: Foto Nicolò Orsi Battaglini, Firenze

EDITOR: Caterina Pirina January 2001