TUSCANY - Florence
FILE : S. Croce C. Museum 5
TITLE : Pope saint blessing

LOCATION: Firenze S. Croce Church - Museo inv. n.

DIMENSIONS: lunette cm.104 x 86

PROVENANCE: The panel comes from a window (lost) executed for the two-lancets window in the northern nave bay, next to the transept (Wind. n X). 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, were ended up the two bays of the naves adjacent to the transept and their two-lancet windows (window n X and sVIII). 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: Pacino di Bonaguida (attribution)


SUBJECT/S: a half-length figure of a pope in the act of blessing is recognized for the halo and the tiara. A more detailed identification cannot be made for the lack of further specific signs.

CRITICAL NOTES: This lunette is one of the panels now in the museum ( see Firenze S. Croce Church 3,4,5 6 ) that, 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).

Marchini distinguishes the Pope Saint and Deacon Saint from the other panels (see Firenze S. Croce Church, Museo 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 other panels, that is the two Deacon Martyr Saints and Aaron 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 that 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: the scholar assigns the two young martyr saints to Giotto for their considerable artistic quality; whilst for the other two lancets, Pope Saint and Deacon Saint, makes his own Marchini’s arguments, stating that they are close to the Master of the Horne Triptyc and assigning them to Pacino di Bonaguida

CONDITIONS: in fair conditions. The panel underwent a conservative restoration at the end of the war by the Tolleri glasswork of Florence when its new location at the museum was decided.

Parts of the grisaille fell off , perhaps removed during the cleaning , together layers of dirt of which traces are still visible on some tesserae. Various lead framings at the joints in the halo and in the background.

BIBLIOGRPHY: see S. Croce Bibliography

PHOTOGRAPHIC REF.: Foto Nicolò Orsi Battaglini, Firenze

EDITOR: Caterina Pirina January 2001