Saint Andrew

Simone Martini (Italian, Siena, active by 1315–died 1344 Avignon)

ca. 1326
Tempera on wood, gold ground
22 1/2 x 14 7/8 in. (57.2 x 37.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of George Blumenthal, 1941
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    These three panels belonged to a five-part, portable altarpiece that was possibly commissioned by the governing body of the city of Siena (Ansanus is the city’s patron saint and holds its black and white banner). Simone's refined technique and descriptive powers, evident in the poses and expressions of the figures, were unequalled in Europe and earned the praise and friendship of the poet Petrarch (1304–1374). The rectangular frames—rare at this date—are original; that on Saint Andrew is especially well preserved.

    For a reconstruction of the altarpiece, see metmuseum.org/collections.

  • Catalogue Entry

    Simone Martini was one of the greatest and most influential painters of his time, combining an astonishing mastery of naturalistically observed details with an exquisite technique, beautifully exemplified in this painting by the description of the hands, the tilted book, and the dangling tassel. Prior to his departure for Avignon to work for the papal court he was the favored painter of the communal government in Siena and is the author of two major frescoes in the main room of the Palazzo Pubblico. Although the MMA panel was widely ascribed to the mid-fourteenth century master Lippo Vanni, in 1974 Boskovits made the case for attributing it and four related panels to Simone Martini, and this attribution is now widely accepted. He also identified the saint as the apostle Andrew, as had Weigelt (1929), and this identification has been borne out by the traces of the apostle’s name that was once painted on the gold background to either side of the saint’s head (the traces are clearly visible in the image appearing on the website). Further, Boskovits suggested that these five panels formed an altarpiece commissioned from Simone in 1326 for the Palazzo Pubblico and that was mentioned rather generically by Ghiberti in his Commentaries: "and in the said palace a very good altarpiece." The five panels in question are, left to right: Saint Ansanus (Robert Lehman Collection, MMA), Saint Peter (Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid), Madonna and Child (Robert Lehman Collection, MMA), Saint Andrew, and Saint Luke (J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles). Saint Ansanus is the patron saint of Siena and in this work he holds the official black and white banner—the balzana. His presence would be expected on an altarpiece for the Commune, but is not conclusive evidence.

    Unusually for an altarpiece, the panels are all rectangular—not gabled—and they are all of the same size (in traditional Italian altarpieces the center panel is invariable wider than the lateral ones by approximately one third). The frames are no less unusual, being of a cassetta-type normally associated with small, portable panels. For that reason they were frequently supposed to be later. However, technical examination demonstrates that they are original; indeed, that on the Saint Luke is still engaged (the others were removed from their respective panels, which were then cradled: for the construction of the frames see Newbery and Kanter 1990). Curiously, there is no sign that the panels were hinged together, and this may be important for understanding the function of the altarpiece, as unhinged panels could be re-combined according to need.

    Boskovits’ attribution of the panels to Simone Martini as well as his proposal for the identification of the altarpiece was not universally accepted (Eisenberg 1981). Both points were, however, upheld by Christiansen (1988, 1994), who undertook a thorough re-examination of the documents. He noted that the altarpiece commissioned from Simone in 1326 could not have been commissioned for the Cappella dei Signori on the main floor of the Palazzo Pubblico, since that chapel did not exist before the fifteenth century (the first notice is in 1405). He also argued that it does it seem initially to have been painted for the earlier ground floor Cappella dei Nove, which was constructed between 1307 and 1310 and for which documents mention other works. Rather, he suggested that the 1326 work must have been a multi-functional altarpiece and that the two notices related to it suggest its possible identity with the five panels that concern us. The first notice describes what was either an altarpiece or single panel painting that was kept—at least temporarily, as a fire had damaged part of the Palazzo Pubblico—in the Palazzo del Capitano ("una tavola per tenere nel Palazzo del Capitano") and for which "Maestro Simone" was paid thirty lire in April and August 1326. Six months later, in February 1327, what must be the same work—the value was the same—was lent by the Commune to the residence of the Podestà and then returned to the Palazzo Pubblico. This document makes it clear that there were three panels, not one, and these showed the Madonna and Child, Saint Peter, and Saint Andrew, thus agreeing with three of the panels of our reconstructed altarpiece. Of the two remaining saints, Ansanus was the patron of the Comune (as already noted), while according to one source, the Cappella dei Signori was initially dedicated to Saint Luke.

    Christiansen then picked up the story in the fifteenth century, when the Cappella dei Signori became the principal chapel in the palace, receiving a cycle of frescoes by Taddeo di Bartolo, intarsia choir stalls by Domenico di Niccolò dei Cori, a holy water font by Giovanni di Turino, and an elaborate wrought iron grill—all still extant. In 1448 the signori set up a commission to determine the condition of the altarpiece then in situ. This must be the same altarpiece that Ghiberti ascribed to Simone Martini. It was judged to be precarious, and the commission was to decide on what action to take and how much the necessary work would cost. The carpenter Giovanni di Vicho di Magno was engaged to create a dais, a wooden canopy, and an elaborately inlaid frame, the stated notion being to make the frame conform with the inlaid choir stalls that had been executed by Domenico di Niccolò between 1415 and 1428. Further, Sano di Pietro was engaged to paint five panels with stories from the Life of the Virgin, to be placed as a predella below the panels by Simone Martini. These were to be based on frescoes that had been painted a century earlier by Simone Martini and Ambrogio and Pietro Lorenzetti. The five predella panels were identified by Eisenberg and are now divided among the Pinacoteca Vaticana, the Lindenau-Museum, Altenburg, and the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor. The completed altarpiece would have had a highly unusual and perhaps unique appearance, but it would have harmonized beautifully with the rest of the chapel furnishings. Taking these considerations together, and noting that Sano di Pietro’s predella panels are the same width as the framed panels by Simone, Christiansen proposed a detailed reconstruction (see Images). His arguments have been accepted by some scholars and rejected and/or modified by others. Maginnis (2001) objected to the "bizarre framing", maintaining that "there is absolutely no evidence that any quattrocento Sienese altarpiece was so framed." This is curious, as the character of the frame is fully documented (De Marchi [2010, p. 172] cites analogies). Bagnoli (1999) objected not to the reconstruction, per se, but argued that the style of the various panels points to a date earlier than 1326 and the improbability that they relate to the documents. By contrast, Leone de Castris (2003), De Marchi (2010), and Polzer (2012) have accepted the reconstruction; De Marchi suggests on the evidence of style that Simone painted first the three panels with the Madonna and Child and Saints Peter and Andrew and then added the remaining two at a subsequent moment—something Christiansen had left open as a possibility. Polzer ascribes the panels to Simone Martini assisted by the very young Lippo Vanni.

    The altarpiece in the Cappella dei Signori was dismantled by 1686, when it was replaced by The Holy Family with Saint Leonard by Sodoma. Documents relating to the various dismembered parts can be found until the end of the eighteenth century, but none are specific enough to make the identification of any surviving panels with the altarpiece absolutely certain.


  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Inscribed (background): :S: / :A[N]DREAS

  • Provenance

    ?Cappella dei Signori, Palazzo Pubblico, Siena (?until 1686); [R. Langton Douglas, London; sold to Blumenthal]; George Blumenthal, New York (by 1917–41; cat., vol. 1, 1926, pl. XIX, as "An Apostle," possibly by Lippo Vanni, under direct influence of Simone Martini)

  • Exhibition History

    New York. F. Kleinberger Galleries. "Italian Primitives," November 12–30, 1917, no. 44 (as "A Prophet," by Simone Martini, lent by George and Florence Blumenthal).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Italian Renaissance Frames," June 5–September 2, 1990, no. 1c.

  • References

    Osvald Sirén. Letter to George Blumenthal. February 20, 1916, attributes it to Simone Martini.

    Osvald Sirén and Maurice W. Brockwell. Catalogue of a Loan Exhibition of Italian Primitives. Exh. cat., F. Kleinberger Galleries, Inc. New York, 1917, pp. 120–21, no. 44, ill., as "A Prophet" by Simone Martini; lent by George and Florence Blumenthal; as formerly in the collection of R. Langton Douglas.

    Raimond van Marle. Simone Martini et les peintres de son école. Strasbourg, 1920, pp. 30, 199, attributes it to Simone Martini and dates it slightly after 1320; identifies the figure as Saint John the Baptist; groups it with the Saints Peter and Ansanus, reporting, however, that Perkins [see Ref. 1920] also includes the Madonna and Child as part of the series, and attributes the group to Lippo Vanni.

    F. Mason Perkins. "Some Sienese Paintings in American Collections: Part Two." Art in America 8 (October 1920), pp. 281–82, 287, ill. p. 279, identifies the figure as probably an apostle; connects it with the Madonna and Child and Saints Peter and Ansanus then all in the Lehman collection (the Madonna and Child and the Saint Ansanus are now in the Robert Lehman Collection, MMA; the Saint Peter is in the collection of Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid); attributes all four pictures to Lippo Vanni; suggests that they may have formed a dossal or have been set into a shrine and notes that there must have been a fifth panel, a saint which would have been located to the right of the Madonna and Child, next to this panel.

    B[ernard]. Berenson. "Un antiphonaire avec miniatures, par Lippo Vanni." Gazette des beaux-arts, 5th ser., 9 (May 1924), p. 276 n. 1, connects it to the three Lehman panels; attributes the series to Lippo Vanni and dates it about 1335.

    Raimond van Marle. "The Sienese School of the 14th Century." The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. 2, The Hague, 1924, pp. 275, 277, 465 n. 1, identifies it as an Apostle; accepts Perkins's [see Ref. 1920] connection of this work with the Madonna and Child and Saints Peter and Ansanus, but rejects his attribution to Lippo Vanni; attributes the four panels to a close follower of Simone Martini.

    Stella Rubinstein-Bloch. "Paintings—Early Schools." Catalogue of the Collection of George and Florence Blumenthal. 1, Paris, 1926, unpaginated, pl. XIX, as "An Apostle," possibly by Lippo Vanni and painted under the direct influence of Simone Martini; states that it formed part of a polyptych with the three Lehman panels.

    Robert Lehman. The Philip Lehman Collection, New York: Paintings. Paris, 1928, unpaginated, under pls. XXXIII and XXXIV, adds a fifth panel to the series, a work in the Lederer collection, Vienna, that he identifies as Saint Andrew (Saint Luke; now J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles); calls the Blumenthal panel "Saint Luke (or Apostle)," perhaps confusing it with the Lederer work; attributes the series to Lippo Vanni under the influence of Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi.

    Philip Hendy. "'Ugolino Lorenzetti': Some Further Attributions." Burlington Magazine 55 (November 1929), p. 232, calls it "An Apostle"; attributes the Saint Peter to Ugolino Lorenzetti, rejecting its connection to the other four panels.

    [Curt H.] Weigelt in Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. 23, Leipzig, 1929, pp. 277–78, tentatively identifies it as Saint Andrew; finds the attribution to Lippo Vanni of this panel and those in the Lehman collection unconvincing.

    Bernhard Berenson. Studies in Medieval Painting. New Haven, 1930, p. 53 n. 2, identifies it as "the Evangelist," groups it with the Lehman panels, and attributes the series to Lippo Vanni.

    Lionello Venturi. Pitture italiane in America. Milan, 1931, unpaginated, pl. LXXIX, identifies it as Saint James and attributes the series to Lippo Vanni.

    Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 588, lists it as "Bust of Apostle," by Lippo Vanni.

    George Harold Edgell. A History of Sienese Painting. New York, 1932, pp. 152–53, attributes this work and the three Lehman panels to Lippo Vanni.

    Robert Langton Douglas. "L'arte senese." Storia della repubblica di Siena. 2, [Siena], [1933], ill. opp. p. 104, as a saint, by Simone Martini.

    Lionello Venturi. "Romanesque and Gothic." Italian Paintings in America. 1, New York, 1933, unpaginated, pl. 98, identifies this figure as Saint James and attributes the series to Lippo Vanni.

    Raimond van Marle. "La scuola senese del XIV secolo." Le scuole della pittura italiana. 2, The Hague, 1934, pp. 488, 490 n. 4, as an apostle; attributes it and the Lehman panels to Lippo Vanni.

    Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 506.

    Exposition de la collection Lehman de New York. Exh. cat., Musée de l'Orangerie. Paris, 1957, p. 47, under no. 57, attributes the series to Lippo Vanni, calling it one of his earliest works.

    Guy-Philippe de Montebello. "Four Prophets by Lorenzo Monaco." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 25 (December 1966), p. 160, fig. 7, as Saint John the Evangelist, by Lippo Vanni.

    Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Central Italian and North Italian Schools. London, 1968, vol. 1, pp. 442–43, lists it as an early work by Lippo Vanni, connecting it with the Lehman and Lederer panels.

    Ferdinando Bologna. I pittori alla corte Angioina di Napoli, 1266–1414. Rome, 1969, p. 288, attributes the series to Lippo Vanni's earliest period.

    Luisa Vertova. "Lippo Vanni Versus Lippo Memmi." Burlington Magazine 112 (July 1970), p. 441, attributes the five panels to Lippo Vanni and dates them to the 1350s.

    Luciano Bellosi. "Jacopo di Mino del Pellicciaio." Bollettino d'arte 57 (April–June 1972), p. 75, rejects the attribution of the series to Lippo Vanni, ascribing it to an artist trained in the workshop of Simone Martini.

    Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 208, 459, 608, as an anonymous male saint by Lippo Vanni.

    Miklòs Boskovits. "A Dismembered Polyptych, Lippo Vanni and Simone Martini." Burlington Magazine 116 (July 1974), pp. 368, 371–72, 375–76, fig. 12, identifies the figure as an apostle, probably Saint Andrew; analyzes the five panels of the series, rejecting the attribution to Lippo Vanni and ascribing them instead to Simone Martini and dating them to the end of the 1320s; tentatively suggests that they may have formed the altarpiece of 1326 made for the Cappella dei Signori in the Palazzo Pubblico, Siena.

    Dizionario enciclopedico Bolaffi dei pittori e degli incisori italiani. 10, Turin, 1975, p. 325.

    Carlo Volpe. "Su Lippo Vanni da miniatore a pittore." Paragone 27 (November 1976), p. 56, rejects the attribution to Lippo Vanni and calls the series Simonesque.

    Antonino Caleca. "Tre polittici di Lippo Memmi: un'ipotesi sul Barna e la bottega di Simone di [sic for "e"] Lippo, 2." Critica d'arte 42 (January–June 1977), pp. 70–71, accepts Boskovits' [see Ref. 1974] tentative identification of the series as Simone's altarpiece of 1326 from the chapel of the Palazzo Pubblico, Siena.

    Hayden B. J. Maginnis. Letter to John Pope-Hennessy. June 6, 1977, questions Boskovits' [see Ref. 1974] attribution and dating of the series, ascribing the panels to an artist in Simone's immediate circle but not to Simone himself, and suggesting that the rectangular format (if not originally crowned by pinnacles) may indicate a date later than that proposed by Boskovits.

    Mojmír S. Frinta. "The Quest for a Restorer's Shop of Beguiling Invention: Restorations and Forgeries in Italian Panel Painting." Art Bulletin 58 (March 1978), p. 7 n. 3, attributes the series to an associate of Simone; implies that the frames are modern reproductions.

    Cristina De Benedictis. La pittura senese, 1330–1370. Florence, 1979, p. 60 n. 24.

    S[erena]. Padovani. "Restauri." Prospettiva no. 17 (April 1979), p. 85, attributes the series to Simone and dates it to the 1320s.

    Edna Carter Southard Indiana University. The Frescoes in Siena's Palazzo Pubblico, 1289–1539: Studies in Imagery and Relations to other Communal Palaces in Tuscany. New York, 1979, p. 161, rejects Boskovits's [see Ref. 1974] tentative identification of the five panels with Simone's 1426 altarpiece; does not believe the panels belong together or that they are by Simone.

    Denys Sutton. "Robert Langton Douglas, Part III, XV: The War Years." Apollo 109 (June 1979), p. 436, fig. 20, states that Douglas acquired the picture at the Northesk sale and sold it to Blumenthal [n.b., a second picture (Giovanni di Paolo, "The Presentation in the Temple," MMA 41.100.4) mentioned by Sutton as having been acquired at the Northesk sale was actually sold to Douglas by Lord Southesk; there is no corroboration that this picture was acquired by Douglas from either Northesk or Southesk].

    Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sienese and Central Italian Schools. New York, 1980, pp. 94–95, pl. 5, attribute the five panels to Simone Martini, possibly with the assistance of Lippo Memmi; compare them with Simone's altarpiece of the Blessed Agostino Novello (Museo dell'Opera della Metropolitana, Siena) of the 1320s; state that, contrary to what had been generally assumed, the frames on the five panels are modern reproductions.

    Marvin Eisenberg. "The First Altar-piece for the 'Cappella de'Signori' of the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena: '. . . tales figure sunt adeo pulcre . . .'." Burlington Magazine 123 (March 1981), p. 147 n. 49, refutes Boskovits' [see Ref. 1974] suggestion identifying these five panels with the altarpiece of 1326 for the Cappella dei Signori, and also finds his attribution to Simone unconvincing.

    Keith Christiansen. Note to the files. June 14, 1982, reports the results of a technical examination of the frame, which led to the conclusion that it is original to the painting, although no longer engaged; adds that the frame of the Madonna and Child is a copy and that of the Saint Ansanus appears to be a heavily reworked original.

    Keith Christiansen. "Fourteenth-Century Italian Altarpieces." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 40 (Summer 1982), pp. 32–33, 35–36, figs. 33 (color), 34 (reconstruction), states that the five panels comprised a folding, portable altarpiece painted for an organization rather than a private individual; identifies the frame of this work as original and those of the other four panels as either copies or heavily restored originals; attributes this panel to Simone and the altarpiece as a whole to Simone with some workshop assistance; dates it after Simone's "Annunciation" (Museo degli Uffizi, Florence) of 1333.

    Marianne Lonjon. "Quatre médaillons de Simone Martini." Revue du Louvre et des musées de France 33, no. 3 (1983), p. 211 n. 33, attributes the series to Simone Martini and believes it must have formed a portable polyptych.

    John Pope-Hennessy assisted by Laurence B. Kanter in "Italian Paintings." The Robert Lehman Collection. 1, New York, 1987, pp. 18, 20–21, fig. 10, attributes this panel to Simone himself and the altarpiece as a whole to Simone with workshop assistance; dates it after 1333 and before the artist's departure for Avignon.

    Keith Christiansen in Painting in Renaissance Siena: 1420–1500. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1988, pp. 147–48, believes Boskovits' [see Ref. 1974] tentative identification of the series with Simone's 1326 altarpiece should not be rejected [see Ref. Eisenberg 1981].

    Andrew Martindale. Simone Martini. New York, 1988, pp. 38, 40, 44 nn. 11, 12, pp. 168, 194–95, no. 17iii, fig. 4, pl. 83 (reconstruction), attributes the altarpiece to Simone's workshop; finds the association with the 1326 altarpiece unlikely.

    Pierluigi Leone de Castris. Simone Martini: Catalogo completo dei dipinti. Florence, 1989, pp. 93–96, ill. (overall and reconstruction), attributes the altarpiece to Simone with some workshop assistance, especially in the panels depicting Saints Ansanus and Peter and perhaps the Madonna and Child; dates it about 1326.

    Timothy J. Newbery and Laurence B. Kanter in Italian Renaissance Frames. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1990, pp. 32–33, no. 1c, ill., state that the altarpiece was painted by Simone between 1324 and 1336.

    Important Paintings by Old Masters. Christie's, New York. January 11, 1991, p. 134, under no. 76.

    Keith Christiansen. "Simone Martini's altar-piece for the commune of Siena." Burlington Magazine 136 (March 1994), pp. 148–60, figs. 9 (detail), 14, 18 (reconstruction), produces evidence that these five panels can be identified with the altarpiece for which Simone received payment from the commune of Siena in 1326 and which was first placed in the Palazzo del Capitano, and later in the Cappella dei Signori of the Palazzo Pubblico.

    Erling S. Skaug. Punch Marks from Giotto to Fra Angelico: Attribution, Chronology, and Workshop Relationships in Tuscan Panel Painting. Oslo, 1994, vol. 1, p. 218; vol. 2, punch chart 7.2, states that the punchwork on this panel is typical of Simone's style of about 1320 and appears to be earlier than that of the Lehman panels.

    Burton Fredericksen in Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Paintings. Los Angeles, 1997, p. 8.

    M[arco]. Pierini in Enciclopedia dell'arte medievale. 8, Rome, 1997, p. 249.

    Mojmír S. Frinta. "Part I: Catalogue Raisonné of All Punch Shapes." Punched Decoration on Late Medieval Panel and Miniature Painting. Prague, 1998, pp. 247, 255, 310, 388, 458, classifies the punch marks appearing in this painting.

    Alessandro Bagnoli. La Maestà di Simone Martini. [Milan], 1999, pp. 124–25, 135–36, 142, 150 n. 162, p. 151 nn. 166, 178, fig. 153, ill. p. 135 (reconstruction), attributes the altarpiece to Simone and dates it about 1318–20.

    Marco Pierini. Simone Martini. [Milan?], 2000, pp. 122, 126, 234–35 n. 13, ill. in color (overall and reconstruction), attributes the altarpiece to Simone and dates it about 1320.

    Hayden B. J. Maginnis. The World of the Early Sienese Painter. University Park, Pa., 2001, p. 128 n. 39, attributes all five panels to Simone's shop; rejects Christiansen's [see Ref. 1994] identification of the series as the Palazzo Pubblico altarpiece, stating that the dimensions do not match those of Sano di Pietro's predella panels and calling the proposed framing of the altarpiece "bizarre".

    Pierluigi Leone de Castris. Simone Martini. Milan, 2003, pp. 244, 248–49, 294 nn. 43, 46, p. 358, no. 26d, ill. in color pp. 242 (reconstruction), 247, identifies the series as the altarpiece painted in 1326 for the commune of Siena [see Refs. Boskovits 1974 and Christiansen 1994]; attributes the MMA panel to Simone and workshop.

    Victor M. Schmidt. Painted Piety: Panel Paintings for Personal Devotion in Tuscany, 1250–1400. Florence, 2005, pp. 283, 323 n. 6, fig. 191 (reconstruction).

    Wolfgang Loseries in Maestri senesi e toscani nel Lindenau-Museum di Altenburg. Exh. cat., Complesso museale. Siena, 2008, pp. 126, 129–30 n. 13, reviews the theories relating to the reconstruction of the Palazzo dei Signori altarpiece and the attribution of the main panels to Simone Martini.

    Andrea De Marchi in Da Jacopo della Quercia a Donatello: le arti a Siena nel primo rinascimento. Exh. cat., Santa Maria della Scala et al., Siena. Milan, 2010, p. 172, under no. B.10.

    Gabriele Fattorini in Da Jacopo della Quercia a Donatello: le arti a Siena nel primo rinascimento. Exh. cat., Santa Maria della Scala et al., Siena. Milan, 2010, p. 147, fig. 13 (reconstruction).

    Dillian Gordon. The Italian Paintings Before 1400. London, 2011, pp. 388–89, 392 n. 12.

    Joseph Polzer. "Some Altarpieces Executed by Simone Martini's Workshop, and Lippo Vanni's Artistic Origin." Arte cristiana 100 (May–October 2012), pp. 179–86, 191 nn. 39, 46, fig. 16, accepts the association with the Cappella dei Signori altarpiece but ascribes a leading role to the young Lippo Vanni in Simone Martini’s workshop.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History