Giovanni di Paolo (Siena c. 1399-1482)
Giovanni di Paolo (Siena c. 1399-1482)
Giovanni di Paolo (Siena c. 1399-1482)
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Giovanni di Paolo (Siena c. 1399-1482)
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Property From the Harry Fuld Collection
Giovanni di Paolo (Siena c. 1399-1482)

The Investiture of Saint Clare: the Saint receiving the clothes of her Order from Saint Francis

Details
Giovanni di Paolo (Siena c. 1399-1482)
The Investiture of Saint Clare: the Saint receiving the clothes of her Order from Saint Francis
tempera and gold on panel, the composition extended to the edges of the panel
8 1/8 x 11 ½ in. (20.6 x 29.2 cm.)
Provenance
Richard von Kaufmann (1850–1908), Berlin; his sale (†), Hugo Helbing and Paul Cassirer, Berlin, 4 December 1917 (=1st day), lot 27, catalogued by M.J. Friedländer (42,000 marks together with lot 28).
Harry Fuld (1872-1932), and by inheritance to his widow, Lucie Mayer-Fuld (1889-1966), and his two sons,
Harry Fuld (1911-1963), Peter Fuld (1921-1962).
List of nationally valuable art works, 1938.
Sale through art dealers to the Kaiser Friedrich Museum, Berlin, 1940.
Gemäldegalerie, Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, returned in 2019.
Literature
R. von Kaufmann, Gema¨lde des XIV-XVI Jahrhunderts aus der Sammlung von Richard von Kaufmann, Berlin, 1901, p. 11, no. 98.
M.H. Bernath, review of Frankfurt exhibition, The Burlington Magazine, XLVII, 1925, p. 216.
J. Pope-Hennessy, Giovanni di Paolo, London, 1937 (and New York, 1938), pp. 78, 109, notes 57, 59, and 171.
G. Kaftal, Iconography of the Saints in Tuscan Painting, Florence, 1952, pp. 272-4, fig. 314, note 2.
Verzeichnis der Ausgestellten Gemälde des 13. bis 18. Jahrhunderts im Museum Dahlem, Berlin, 1964, p. 52.
B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance, Central Italian and North Italian Schools, London, 1968, p. 175.
C. Seymour, Jr., Early Italian Painting in the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven and London, 1970, p. 198, under no. 148.
C.B. Strehlke, Painting in Renaissance Siena: 1420–1500, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1988, pp. 204-5, under no. 34b.
C.C. Wilson, Italian Paintings XIV-XVI Centuries in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1996, pp. 168-70, under no. 14, fig. 14.1.
C.C. Wilson, ‘Structure and Iconography in Giovanni di Paolo’s altarpieces: the Case of the Houston Panels’, Arte Cristiana, LXXXIV, 1996, pp. 427-8, 432-3, note 55, fig. 14.
Exhibited
Frankfurt, Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Ausstellung von meisterwerken alter malerei aus privatbesitz, 1925, no. 85.
Berlin, Gemäldegalerie, Geschichten auf Gold: Bilderzählungen in der frühen italienischen Malerei, 4 November 2005-26 February 2006, no. 22a (catalogue entry by I. Wenderholm).

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Henry Pettifer
Henry Pettifer

Lot Essay

This panel was the left hand element of Giovanni di Paolo’s predella for an altarpiece of which the main panel is the Madonna and Child with Saints Peter Damian, Thomas, Clare and Ursula in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena. For a full discussion please see the previous catalogue entry.
The Investiture of Saint Clare was recounted by Thomas of Celano in his celebrated life of the saint:
[in S. Maria degli Angeli at Assisi] with a bright expression and an angelic countenance Clare forsook the wretched world and obtained as sign of the redeeming penance the robes of the Franciscans. This happened before the altar of the Virgin, whose Son was pleased to welcome the devout virgin Clare. When Saint Clare was dressed, Saint Francis himself cut off her tresses, girdled her with a coarse cord and laid a white and a black veil of rough cloth on her head. Clare vowed before Francis to adhere always to the strictest observance, poverty and chastity in her monastic life. In return Francis promised her Jesus Christ as husband and eternal life (Tommaso da Celano, La Legenda sanctae Clarae virginis, cited in translation in Z. Lazzeri, ed., La vita di Santa Chiara, Collegio di S. Bonaventura, 1920, pp. 27-28).
Giovanni di Paolo interpreted the text freely, reducing for instance the number of brethren who were with Saint Francis. Saint Clare is shown after receiving her habit from Saint Francis, who with his attendant brothers holds the white garments that the saint has forsaken. The scene takes place in a modest chapel, intended no doubt to represent the Portiuncula at Santa Maria degli Angeli below Assisi, with a small Crucifix above the altar: through the arched doorway on the left there is an oblique view of a small cloister with a trio of cypresses, their number no doubt a reference to the Trinity.
As was customary, the lines of the architecture were incised on the panel after this was primed: that these continue downwards into the altar suggest that the artist may initially have planned to place this somewhat lower. After the composition had been completed, he incised the pavement and the roof above the cloister with even finer lines, which cut through the paint surface and in doing so clarify our reading of the areas in question. Giovanni di Paolo’s training as a miniaturist is implied in such passages as the delicately drawn gold decoration of the altar front, which is comparable in finesse with the spray of the companion panel.
In the reconstruction of the original altarpiece (see the previous lot in this sale, fig. 3), The Investiture of Saint Clare would have been placed below the full-length figure of Saint Peter Damian. The inclusion of Saint Peter Damian in the altarpiece may have resulted from a confusion with his near namesake, San Damiano, after whom was named the church just below the walls of Assisi. It was there that Saint Francis installed Saint Clare’s second order of poor nuns, and where relatively unusually the cloister was north of the chapel, as the orientation of the altar implies was the case with that depicted by the artist.

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