Madonna and Child with the Dead Christ, Saints Agnes and Catherine of Alexandria, and Two Angels
Sano di Pietro (Ansano di Pietro di Mencio) (Italian, Siena 1405–1481 Siena)
Tempera on wood, gold ground
Main panel, overall, with engaged (modern) frame, 12 3/4 x 11 3/4 in. (32.4 x 29.8 cm), painted surface 10 7/8 x 9 7/8 in. (27.6 x 25.1 cm); predella, overall, with engaged (modern) frame, 3 5/8 x 12 5/8 in. (9.2 x 32.1 cm), painted surface 2 5/8 x 11 7/8 in. (6.7 x 30.2 cm)
Anonymous Bequest, 1984
Not on view
Sano’s active workshop was the principal source in Siena for devotional images of the Madonna and Child, invariably shown bust-length, accompanied by saints and angels. The saints on the base (predella) are Mary Magdalen, Francis, Jerome, and Margaret. The predominance of female saints together with Saints Francis and Jerome suggest the work may have been destined for a female associated with the lay order of the Jesuati, founded in Siena in 1360, or a member of the Confraternity of the Virgin, to which Sano himself belonged.
Inscription: Inscribed (on Madonna's halo): AVE GRATIA PLENA
J. Early-Smith, London (until 1928; sale, Christie's, London, 1928, as attributed to Sano di Pietro or as Barna da Siena); [Mortimer Brandt, New York, in 1941]; private collection, Honolulu (until d. 1984)
Old Master Paintings. [New York], , unpaginated, unnumbered cat., ill., as by Sano di Pietro.
This portable altarpiece is a late work and may be dated to the 1470s based on comparison with Sano's altarpiece of 1478 in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena. The main panel and the predella are separated and the frames are new; presumably they were originally attached and formed a single complex. The saints on the predella surrounding the figure of the dead Christ can be identified as, from left to right: Mary Magdalen, Francis, Jerome, and Margaret.