This complete triptych, of refined execution, is a remarkable survival. Though traditionally given to the ‘School of Rimini’ of the early fourteenth century, it shows instead great affinities with artists affiliated closely to Giotto, and in particular with the workshop in Assisi. There are close stylistic links with the cycle of frescoes in the chapel of Saint Nicholas of Bari in the Lower Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, which was completed by 1306-7 (fig. 1). More specifically, there are parallels to a recognised artist active in the decorative scheme, the so-called ‘Maestro Espressionista di Santa Chiara’, active in Umbria at the end of the thirteenth and beginning of the fourteenth century, and named after the frescoes in the church of Santa Chiara in Assisi. This artist, to whom a small group of works have been attributed, has been identified with Palmerino di Guido, recorded as an associate of Giotto in Assisi in 1309. The immediate Giottesque influence is evident here in the facial types, the manner in which the draperies fall and fold, the style of the architecture and the design of the rocky landscapes in the upper sections. The exquisite colours of the scenes showing The Annunciation and Saint George slaying the dragon on the panel wings are reminiscent of Umbrian miniaturists of the same period.
The inclusion of three saints from the Order of Friars Minor, as well as Saint Francis showing the stigmata and Saint Louis of Toulouse, indicate that it was very likely a Franciscan commission. Saint Louis, born in 1274, the second son of Charles II of Anjou, gave up his right to the throne and joined the Franciscan order in 1296. He is shown here in a simple Franciscan habit, on the lower section of the right wing, as he is in Simone Martini’s masterpiece of circa 1317 Saint Louis of Toulouse crowns Robert I (Naples, Museo di Capodimonte). The representation of Saint Louis, who was canonised on 7 April 1317, together with the small refined punchmarks of the haloes, indicate a date of execution around 1320-30.