TUSCANY - Florence
FILE : Church of  S. Croce 6
TITLE : St. Sigismondo and Saint Kings.

LOCATION: Firenze, S. Croce church - window n VIII, Bardi Chapel (mullioned w.)

PROVENANCE: original location.


CHRONOLOGY: about 1332-35.

AUTHOR: Fra’ Ubaldo "de vitro" and fra’ Gherardino Pillecti of Florence (inscription) on drawings by Taddeo Gaddi (attribution).

ASSIGNMENT: Bardi family.

SUBJECT: (referred to the iconographic sequence) a 1) Young crowned saint (St. Louis of France according to Ladis 1982); b 1) St. Miniato. Inscriptions: S. S MINIAS e SANCTVS MINIAS REX HERMENIE MARTIR ET CONFESSOR; a 2) St. Sigismondo. Inscriptions: SANCTVS SIGISMVNDVS REX BVRGVNDIE MARTIR ET CONFESSOR e HOC OPV(s) FECIT FRATER VBALDV(s) DE VITRO E(t) FRATER GHERARDINV(s) PILLECTI D(e) FLORE(n)TIA; b 2) Saint king, maybe Henry. Inscription: HOC OPV(s) FECIT FRATER GHERARDINU(s) ET FRATER VBALDV(s) DE VITRO DE FLORE(n)TIA; a 3) St. Louis of France enthroned; b 3) St. Ludovic of Toulouse enthroned; ab 4) in the roundel: 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 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).

Thompson studied the technical aspect of the execution in detail, as it is very important 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 on both the ability and sensitiveness of the Master glazier. Besides, he chose the colours and their matching, the definition of the backgrounds and the borders, the organization of the architecture, the characterization of the drapery motifs.

The author noticed as well a difference in the colour aspect when 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 this window 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’.

However, the documentary data is no further analysed. In fact, in this window only there is mention of the two executors, Ubaldo de vitro and Gherardino Pillecti of Florence. The critics do not refer to them , so a deep study on those artists is still to come as well as a research on the sources that might support a reconstruction of those two master glaziers’ catalogue, as they seem to announce the flowering of the renowned executors in the second half of the century and the beginning of the following such as, Antonio da Pisa, Leonardo di Simone, Niccolò di Piero Tedesco, Piero di Niccolò and all the others that set up the ‘Florentine school’ of the stained glass window.

As far as the typology of the window is concerned, the window 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 condition of this window is better than its ‘twin’ ‘s , located in the same chapel (see Firenze S. Croce 10) as there is much more original glass in it.

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). Pieces of the borders, the edges around the halos, some pieces of the draperies and the background with lilies of France behind the figures of St. Louis and St. Ludovic of Toulouse.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: see bibliography of: FIRENZE – S. CROCE.

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

EDITOR: Marina Del Nunzio (May 2001).