SANO DI PIETRO (SIENA 1405-1481)
SANO DI PIETRO (SIENA 1405-1481)
SANO DI PIETRO (SIENA 1405-1481)
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SANO DI PIETRO (SIENA 1405-1481)

The miracle of Saint Bernardino of Siena and the revival of the child, Amico

Details
SANO DI PIETRO (SIENA 1405-1481)
The miracle of Saint Bernardino of Siena and the revival of the child, Amico
tempera and gold on panel, a fragment
7 1⁄2 x 6 5⁄8 in. (19.1 x 16.7 cm.)
Provenance
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 29 June 1973, lot 95, as 'Follower of Pietro Lorenzetti (1,900 gns. to Woodner).
[Property from the Ian Woodner Family Collection]; Christie's, New York, 19 May 1993, lot 169, as 'Sienese School, late 14th century'.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 9 December 1994, lot 35, as 'Pietro Lorenzetti'.
Stanley J. Seeger (1930-2011), Sutton Place, Surrey; Sotheby's, London, 5 March 2014, lot 166, as 'Workshop of Pietro Lorenzetti', where acquired by the present owner.
Literature
C. De Benedictis, La pittura senese, 1330-1370, Florence, 1979, pp. 34, 65, no. 58, fig. 62, as 'Pietro Lorenzetti e bottega.'

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Lot Essay

Though known to scholars since the 1970s, this intimately-scaled panel has only recently been recognized as an entirely characteristic work by the most sought-after painter in mid-15th-century Siena, Sano di Pietro. This new, correct attribution was made by Carl Brandon Strelke in an unpublished essay, in which he likewise accurately identified the panel’s subject: rather than a representation of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary reviving a child, as it had previously been catalogued, the work portrays a posthumous miracle of Sano’s most favored subject, Saint Bernardino of Siena. The event took place in Aquila, the city where Bernardino died in 1444. An eighteen-month-old boy named Amico had fallen into a barrel and drowned while his mother was away. Following his discovery a half-an-hour later by the family’s landlady, the mother’s frantic screams were heard by a devout man, who prayed for the saint’s intervention. Representations of this episode often include Saint Bernardino appearing in a cloud, resuscitating the child through a gesture of benediction. The unusual format of the present work, with its punched gold bands running along the left and right edges, precludes the possibility of the saint’s inclusion to the left or right of the composition, but as Strelke suggests, he may have appeared directly above the two figures as the panel has been cropped along the upper and lower edges. Alternatively, the scene may have been continued in an adjacent panel, since this painting surely originally formed part of a larger polyptych dedicated to the Sienese saint. Noting the painting’s very delicate rendering, Strelke dates the work to shortly after Bernardino’s canonization in 1450.

Sano di Pietro’s extraordinarily well-documented career spanned over five decades and included large altarpieces, manuscript illuminations, and small-scale paintings for private devotion. Born Ansano di Pietro di Mencio, Sano's early artistic training probably took place in the workshop of the great Sienese revolutionary Sassetta, several of whose unfinished works he completed after the elder artist's death in 1450. Although Sassetta undoubtedly remained his strongest artistic influence, Sano's paintings also reveal his awareness of the art of Domenico di Bartolo and suggest that he knew the work of Paolo Uccello and Fra Angelico as well.

Cristina de Benedictus (loc. cit.) considered the present painting to have been produced by Pietro Lorenzetti and his workshop, while at the time of the 2014 Sotheby’s sale, Prof. Dr. Gaudenz Freuler endorsed an attribution to the Lorenzetti’s workshop, noting that similar punched quatrefoil ornamentation running along the panel’s edges may be found in the work of Lorenzetti’s contemporary and collaborator, Bartolomeo Bulgarini. Yet punchwork tools were greatly treasured and were passed down by artists across generations, and as Strelke rightly observes, the present work was produced nearly a century later.

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