The present panels formed part of the altarpiece painted by Bicci di Lorenzo in 1433 for the Church of S. Niccol di Caffaggio, Florence. The payment for the complete altarpiece was made to the artist and his compagno, Stefano d'Antonio (see W. Cohn, 'Maestri sconosciuti del Quattrocento fiorentino, II. Stefano d'Antonio', Bolletino d'Arte, 44, 1959, pp. 61-68).
The altarpiece was dismantled after the church was destroyed in 1787, and the panels were dispersed. The central panel of the Madonna and Child with Angels is in the Galleria Nazionale, Parma; the left wing Saints Benedict and Nicholas is in the Museo di Badia, Grottaferrata; and the right wing Saints John the Baptist and Saint Matthew (?) is in the Lehman Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Two of the predelle are also in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a third is in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; a fourth, in the Wawel Museum, Krakow and a fifth in the Barbara P. Johnson Collection (see Opus Sacrum, ed. J. Grabski, 1990, pp. 46-49, no. 5). A panel from one of the pilasters, Saint Mary of Egypt, was sold at Sotheby's, New York, 28 January 1999, lot 215 ($60,000). The altarpiece was reconstructed by Federico Zeri, 'Una precisazione su Bicci di Lorenzo', Paragone, IX, no. 105, September 1958, pp. 67-71 (see also F. Zeri, Italian Paintings; a catalogue of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Florentine School, New York, 1971, pp. 16-18 and J. Pope-Hennessy, Italian Paintings in the Robert Lehman Collection, New York, 1987, pp. 173-174, no. 73).
We are grateful to Everett Fahy (letter, 15 April 1999) and Professor Miklos Boskovits (letter 16, April 1999) who independently attributed these panels to Bicci di Lorenzo and connected them to the altarpiece. Professor Boskovits points out that the upper part of the panel with the trefoil design around the Saint's head is similar to those from the late eighteenth-century collection of the Marchese Alfonso Tacoli Canacci in Parma. The present panels, like the one sold at Sotheby's that has a similar trefoil design, may have been among the works of art acquired by the Marchese in Florence in 1786-87 on behalf of Duke Ferdinand de Bourbon.