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Attributed to Francesco di Vannuccio (active Siena, circa 1356–1389)
Attributed to Francesco di Vannuccio (active Siena, c.1356–1389)

The right wing of a diptych: The Crucifixion

Attributed to Francesco di Vannuccio (active Siena, c.1356–1389)
The right wing of a diptych: The Crucifixion
the reverse retaining the original gesso
on gold ground panel, shaped top, in an engaged frame
18 1/8 x 8 5/8 in. (46.4 x 21.9 cm.)
Carlo de Carlo; (†) Finarte, Florence, 18 October 2000, lot 99.

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Lot Essay

Boldly punched along the borders of its original engaged frame, this arresting panel shows the Madonna and John the Evangelist slumped in despair at the foot of the Cross, the sinuously elongated body of Christ occupying nearly the entire of the composition. The ‘rare and interesting Trecento painter’ Francesco di Vannuccio, as he is described by John Pope-Hennessy, was a contemporary of Paolo di Giovanni Fei and Bartolo di Fredi, and is listed along with them in Sienese records from 1356 (J. Pope- Hennessy, ‘A Diptych by Francesco di Vannuccio’, Burlington Magazine, XC, no. 542, 1948, p. 137). He may also have had contact with other Sienese contemporaries such as the Ovile Master and Naddo Ceccarelli, but his poignant and passionate emotional sensibilities most readily recall the refined, lyrical art of Simone Martini, who was, along with the brothers Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti, the most distinguished and influential Sienese painter of the second quarter of the 14th century.

Here, John the Evangelist’s anguished eyes, furrowed brow, and open mouth, which seems to cry out in despair, recall Vannuccio’s highly expressive style. Mary, too, clasps her cheek in evident disbelief, her other hand extended as though pleading for mercy. Christ’s serene yet sorrowful expression is a distinct contrast to the physiognomies of His companions, enhancing the deep pathos of the scene.

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