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Giovanni di Paolo (Siena c. 1399-1482)
Giovanni di Paolo (Siena c. 1399-1482)

Christ as the Man of Sorrows

Giovanni di Paolo (Siena c. 1399-1482) Christ as the Man of Sorrows on gold ground panel 5 ¾ x 4 1/8 in. (14.6 x 10.5 cm.)
Anonymous sale; Christie’s, London, 22 April 1994, lot 53.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby’s, London, 17 December 1998, lot 54, where acquired by the present owner.

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Lot Essay

Dating to circa 1426, this panel belongs to Giovanni di Paolo’s early maturity, when his career began to flourish in Siena. Though an independent artist, his style derived in some measure from Taddeo di Bartolo and Gentile da Fabriano, and he also seems to have had contact with French and Lombard painters; his earliest patron in fact was the Lombard Anna Castiglione, a relative of Cardinal Castiglione Branda, also a patron of Vecchietta. This picture can be compared to the renowned Pecci-Paganucci altarpiece, signed and dated 1426, made for the church of San Domenico, Siena. It is now dispersed between the church of Castelnuovo Berardenga, Siena (centre panel), the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena (two lateral saints), and the Staatliches Lindenau-Museum in Altenburg (Crucifixion from the predella) and the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore (the other four panels of the predella). In subsequent decades, he would become one of the most prolific, and important, artists in the city, executing altarpieces for the church of San Francesco and the Cathedral in Siena, and working as an illuminator of manuscripts. John Pope-Hennessy spoke of the great personal impact made on him by the art of Giovanni di Paolo: ‘Relationships with artists of the past are like relationships with living people. […] His paintings spoke, or seemed to speak, with a human voice, and their study […] involved the responses of an individual, not of that abstract concept, an artistic personality.’ (J. Pope-Hennessy, ‘Giovanni di Paolo’, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 46, 2, Autumn 1988, p. 5).

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