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Niccolò di Pietro Gerini (Florence, active 1366?-d. c. 1414\5)
Niccolò di Pietro Gerini (Florence, active 1366?-c. 1414\5)

The Madonna and Child with a goldfinch

Niccolò di Pietro Gerini (Florence, active 1366?-c. 1414\5)

The Madonna and Child with a goldfinch
on gold ground panel, shaped top, in an integral frame
22½ x 15½ in. (57 x 39.4 cm.)

with Bruno Botticelli, Florence, 1998.
Art market, Milan, circa 1998 (according to the Federico Zeri database).

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Abbie Barker
Abbie Barker

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Lot Essay

This Madonna and Child with a goldfinch is a characteristic work by Niccolò di Pietro Gerini, who is frst recorded in 1368 as a member of the Arte dei Medici e Speziali in Florence. Gerini may have been a student of Andrea di Cione, called Orcagna, and primarily undertook commissions in Florence throughout his career; it is likely that he collaborated with Andrea’s brother, Jacopo di Cione on several occasions between 1366 and 1383. Gerini was also certainly influenced by the work of Taddeo Gaddi, Giotto’s pupil and most immediate follower, and worked with Taddeo’s son Agnolo on a number of projects between 1390 and 1395.

Here, the robustly modelled Madonna and Christ Child are naturalistically observed to emphasise their humanity and real spatial presence: a delicate pink hue adds warmth to their cheeks; the Child’s curly hair twists about His head in carefully articulated ringlets; and His legs, whose ankle bones are visibly delineated, wrap around His mother’s arms, revealing the sole of His left foot and underscoring His three-dimensional presence. Delicately pinched in His right hand is a white carnation, which He offers to His mother, while in the other hand He squeezes a goldfinch, a symbol of His future sacrifice. The subtle mauve highlights in the folds of his robe add an exquisite hint of colour to the paint surface and emphasise the volume and depth of His clothing, while the white fringed lining of the Madonna’s mantle peeks out around her sleeves and head, further underscoring Gerini’s attention to detail. The Madonna’s richly decorated robe and mantle allude to her status as Queen of Heaven, while the extensively punched gold ground with a cusped arch modelled in pastiglia enhances the pair’s otherworldliness and divine status.

We are grateful to Everett Fahy for confirming the attribution to Gerini, on the basis of photographs.

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