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Title

: In Favor of Nicola di Maestro Antonio d'Ancono

Author

Gregory Hedberg

Date

1975

Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
The art of the twentieth century has renewed our appreciation for fifteenth-century northern Italian paintings such as the superb Madonna and Child by Nicola di Maestro Antonio d'Ancona recently acquired by The Minneapolis Institute of Arts (figure 1).1 One suspects a modern artist such as Brancusi would have greatly admired the oval shape and subtle contours of the Madonna's head (figure 2), Picasso the bizarre and elongated right hand of the Madonna (figure 3), and Magritte the hyper-realism of the fly on the base of the throne (figure 4). In the Minneapolis painting the Madonna is shown as a young girl seated on a grey throne, dressed in an elaborate gold and black mantle with green lining, over a red and gold brocade robe. The Madonna gazes at the Christ Child, whom she holds firmly with her right hand. The sprightly Child grasps an apple in his left hand and looks up towards heaven. Above the Holy figures are nine cherubs' heads peering down from an opening in the gold cloth that drapes over the top of the throne. Below, at the base of the throne, are shown a glass bottle with flowers, apples and gourds, and a small fly. Although the work was painted almost five hundred years ago, the precision of detail and the nervous expressive forms in the painting are very appealing to modern taste.The formal qualities of the Madonna and Child can be readily appreciated by modern eyes, but the symbolic religious meanings contained in many of the details in the painting are generally now forgotten. In the fifteenth century one would have recognized the apple held by Christ as a specific allusion to Christ's taking on the burden of man's sin—first begun by Adam and Eve's partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden.2 When an apple appears alone in a religious painting, or is shown in the hands of Adam, it generally is meant to symbolize original sin, but here, in the hands of Christ, it symbolizes salvation.The red coral around Christ's neck was commonly hung about the necks of children as a charm against evil. Evil appears symbolically in the painting in the form of the fly at the base of the throne. The fly—a creature long considered to be a bearer of evil or pestilence—is, in the context of this painting, a symbol of the sin and death that Christ will overcome.The apples found to the left of the base of the throne are again symbols of evil, while the gourds shown to the right were commonly used to symbolize the Resurrection because of their appearance in the story of Jonah: "Then the Lord God ordained that a climbing gourd should grow up over his [Jonah's] head to throw its shade over him and relieve his distress, and Jonah was grateful for the gourd" (Jonah 4:6). Thus, here, the gourds, the symbol of Christ's Resurrection, are the antidote for the apples, the symbol of evil or death.The glass vase with flowers, shown to the lower left, appears as a lovely still life of almost Flemish quality. In the fifteenth century, however, it had a deeper religious meaning, concerning the marriage between Christ and the Church. Pinks, the small carnations in the vase, were, according to Flemish custom, worn by a bride upon the day of her wedding. The wedding symbolically referred to here is between Christ and the Madonna. The Madonna, in turn, had come to be recognized as a standard symbol of the Christian Church. The flowers thus refer to a symbolic marriage between Christ and the Madonna, or Christ and the Church.Who is Nicola di Maestro Antonio d'Ancona, the artist who executed this panel? One hundred years ago this question could not have been answered, for in the centuries following the death of Nicola d'Ancona almost all knowledge of his life and work was obscured and lost to the ravages of time. Many of his paintings were destroyed, others were broken up and scattered, and all of them became detached from his name and were either considered to be anonymous works or were wrongly attributed to other artists. Our present knowledge of Nicola d'Ancona is a classic example of the brilliant results achieved by the careful and logical methodology of modern art history. By putting together numerous scattered art historical clues, the life and work of Nicola have been reassembled.Bernard Berenson was the first to rediscover Nicola.3 He observed the signature and date "Opus Nicolai Mi Antonii de Ancona MCCCCLXXII" on a panel now in the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh (figure 5). Were it not for this signature, the artist's name may have forever been lost, for it does not appear in any known surviving documents.4 On the basis of a careful stylistic analysis of this one signed panel, Berenson was able to identify eight other works by Nicola.5Before Berenson's 1915 article, the Minneapolis Madonna and Child was considered to be a work by Carlo Crivelli. In assigning the panel to Nicola d'Ancona, Berenson pointed out that while it is close to early works by Crivelli, such as the Madonna and Child in Brussels (figure 6),6 it lacks the incisive line and force of modeling of Crivelli's works, and the oval face of the Madonna (figure 2) is more graceful and pure than those found in paintings by Crivelli.7 On the other hand, comparing the Minneapolis panel with the signed altar by Nicola in Pittsburgh (figure 5), one can observe that the facial features of the Madonnas and cherubs, the use of line, light, and shadow, and the treatment of architectural details in the two panels are strikingly similar.An extraordinary Pietà in the Pinacoteca in Jesi (figure 7) was also first attributed to Nicola by Berenson. In the painting two angels hold up the twisted dead body of Christ. The left angel gently touches Christ's crown of thorns with its left hand, while the eyes of the angel to the right are swollen with tears. The blood-filled veins of Christ push out through the skin and His lifeless hand lies limp on the frame of the shaped panel. Confirming the attribution of this expressive and emotional panel, Berenson observed that the haloes of the two angels were based on the same pattern model as Christ's halo (figure 3) in the panel now in Minneapolis.8In the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford there are two panels by Nicola—a Mary Magdalen (figure 8) and a St. Francis (figure 9); in the Courtauld Institute in London there is a similar panel showing St. Peter (figure 10), and in a private Italian collection there is a clearly related panel of St. Bartholomew (figure 11). Berenson rightly assigned the first three panels to Nicola, while the fourth surfaced recently and was first exhibited as a Nicola d'Ancona in the major Crivelli e i Crivelleschi exhibition in Venice.9 The great expressive power of these works is in part the result of the tension Nicola created between the large, active figures and the relatively small surrounding space. The figures appear to be tightly confined by the surrounding keyhole-shaped frames. In a similar manner, Nicola used the grey stone throne in the Minneapolis panel to act as a confining, tension-creating frame around the linearly active and nervous Madonna and Child. The half decagon projecting out at the bottom of the throne in the Minneapolis panel adds to the visual sensation that the figures are thrusting out from the confines of the throne.A Saint John the Baptist in the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore (figure 12) was another work first correctly assigned to Nicola by Berenson. Comparison of this figure with the Saint John in the Pittsburgh altar (figure 5) reveals the same nervous sway to the figures and a similar pronounced contouring of every protruding vein and muscle. The Baltimore Saint John and the Minneapolis Madonna and Child were both once part of larger altarpieces. The Baltimore panel was one of the left side compartments of a polyptych, or multi-paneled altar, while the Minneapolis Madonna and Child was likely the central section of an altar. Recently two panels having the same size and shape as the Baltimore panel were discovered in France. These panels, now in the Muse du Petit Palais in Avignon, represent Saint Francis of Assisi (figure 13) and Saint James the Great (figure 14). The poses of the figures reveal that the panels once formed the right side of the same altar to which the Baltimore Saint John belongs.10 The Jesi Pietà (figure 7) and the four keyhole-shaped panels discussed above (figures 8-11) are also fragments from now-dispersed altars. They were likely once part of the pinnacles at the top of a grand triptych, now lost.11One altarpiece by Nicola that was broken up and dispersed has been hypothetically reconstructed by Federico Zeri.12 Zeri discovered a predella panel in the Brooklyn Museum (figure 17), erroneously attributed to Bartolomeo Caporali, which he showed to be a work by Nicola and, in fact, to be the predella of the Palazzo Massimo altar in Rome (figure 16), earlier attributed to Nicola by Berenson.13 The Brooklyn panel measures only 5.6 cm. longer than the seemingly cut down Massimo altar, and, more importantly, it illustrates scenes from the lives of the same four saints and in the same order as the saints shown in the Massimo altar. The predella includes, from left to right, the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence, the Annunciation, the Stoning of St. Stephen and the Crippled Appealing to St. Anthony of Padua. These stories correspond to the figures, from left to right, of St. John the Baptist, St. Lawrence, St. Stephen, and St. Anthony of Padua found in the Massimo altar. To complete the reconstruction Zeri observed that the measurements, subject, and style of a lunette in the City Art Gallery in York, England (figure 15), already attributed to Nicola, corresponded to the other two fragments. In all three panels the light on the landscapes and figures is consistently painted as if it comes from the upper right, whereas in the Minneapolis, Baltimore, Avignon, and other panels by Nicola, the light comes from the upper left.Since there is no documentary evidence to establish where Nicola lived and worked as a young man, one must rely on the works Berenson and others have attributed to him14 to establish where he received his early training and who influenced his style. Berenson suggested that Nicola derived his style from Carlo Crivelli.15 The date on the Pittsburgh altar, however, reveals Nicola was already a fully developed artist in 1472—the same moment Crivelli came to full maturity. Hence he could not have been a young pupil of Crivelli's. More importantly, the style of the 1472 altar does not reflect the influence of Crivelli, but rather, as Drey first observed,16 reveals that Nicola, like Crivelli, was initially trained in the artistic style current in Padua in the 1450s.Longhi observed that Nicola was likely part of the "mad" generation of Italian artists—Tura, Schiavone, Crivelli, Zoppo and others—who were born in the 1430s and who spent some time in the 1450s in Padua.17 These artists took away from Padua a propensity for a hard, hyper-realist, linear style that has become very appealing to modern taste. This Paduan style was initially fostered in northern Italy by Fra Filippo Lippi's18 and Uccello's sojourns to Padua in the 1430s. Donatello's ten-year stay in Padua, from 1443 to 1453, then confirmed a new course for painting in the city and made Padua a center for learning a new art. Francesco Squarcione, a friend and associate of Donatello, was an influential painter and entrepreneur in Padua who taught this new style to numerous young artists whom he then hired out and generally exploited.Longhi astutely observed that Nicola's career was close to Tura's and Crivelli's, but above all it ran parallel to Schiavone's. Schiavone, born Giorgio Chiulinovich about 1436-1437, in Dalmatia, where he died in 1504, was in Padua from 1456 on as a pupil of Francesco Squarcione. His signed Madonna and Child with Angels in West Berlin (figure 18)19 if compared with the Minneapolis or Pittsburgh depictions of the Madonna and Child (figures 1 and 5) reveals close similarities in style and attitude toward the subject matter. As one might expect, the styles developed by the contemporaries, Nicola and Schiavone, are closer to one another than each, in turn, is to their teacher Squarcione's.Zeri sees Nicola as an apostle of unreality and correctly observes that Bartolomeo di Tommaso da Foligno, who was first recorded in Nicola's home town of Ancona in 1425 and again in 1439, was another decisive influence on the artist. Zeri observes a similar expressive interpretation of line, volume, and proportion in works by both artists. The 1472 altar in Pittsburgh (figure 5), according to Zeri, also reveals that Nicola was not unaware of Piero della Francesca. This influence, shown also in later works, is reflected in the luminosity and clarity of the landscape behind the figure of St. John.20Thus, it appears from the works that have survived that Nicola was, rather than a pupil of Carlo Crivelli, his contemporary. Both artists initially formed their distinctive styles in Padua in the 1450s and from there their careers ran a somewhat parallel course. Grivelli may have had an influence on Nicola's late style, but even though he began working in the Marches area (where Nicola lived) as early as 1468, Crivelli was clearly not important for the formation of the artist.Nicola's artistic development progressed from a youthful style that reflected the hard linear and extroverted plastic approach of Squarcione and the Paduan school, to a calmer, more harmonious, mature style that became increasingly void of emotionalism and sharply projected forms. The still vigorous York-Rome-Brooklyn altar (figures 15-17) would appear to date not long after the 1472 altar in Pittsburgh. The Baltimore and Avignon panels (figures 12-14) and the four saints (figures 8-11) would appear to date somewhere between the Massimo altar and the calmer and more refined Minneapolis Madonna and Child (figure 1) and the Jesi Pietà (figure 7). Annunciation with Two Saints triptych in Urbino (figure 19) is virtually devoid of Nicola's early intensity and hence would appear to be a very late work by the artist.21 Not knowing Nicola's death date or the speed of his stylistic development makes the task of assigning tentative dates to his works very difficult, but, assuming a normal course of development, the Minneapolis Madonna and Child would appear to date fifteen to twenty years after the dated Pittsburgh altar, or about 1490. The rounded arch of the panel, the classical columns of the throne, and the perspective details reflect Nicola's acquired Renaissance vocabulary, but the expressive intensity of the figures reveals a lingering Gothic mentality.The scientific and historical curiosity of the twentieth century has resulted in a careful reconstruction and analysis of the life work of Nicola di Maestro Antonio d'Ancona, while modern artistic developments have taught us to again greatly appreciate his bizarre and expressive forms.Gregory Hedberg, Curator of Paintings at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, was lecturer at The Frick Collection in New York before coming to Minneapolis. He is a graduate of Princeton University and has recently submitted his doctoral dissertation, "Antoniazzo Romano and His School," to the Institute of Fine Arts in New York City.AUTHOR'S NOTE: I wish to thank the staffs of the Witt Library in London and the Bibliotéca Hertziana in Rome for their valuable assistance. Also special thanks to Edgar Peters Bowron, Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore; George de Loye, Musée du Petit Palais, Avignon; Alberto di Castro, Antichità, Rome; Deborah Genge, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh; Creighton Gilbert, Queen's College, New York; Rupert Hodge, Witt Library, London; John Ingamells, City of York Art Gallery, York; Michel Laclotte, Louvre, Paris; Erich Schleier, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin; and Gerald Taylor, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, for supplying information and photographs. Many thanks also to Harold Peterson, editor; Nancy Akre, editorial assistant; Rosamond Hurrell, secretary, paintings department; Marion Hirschler, research consultant, and James Horns, conservator of The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, for their valuable assistance.Endnotes
  1. Nicola di Maestro Antonio d'Ancona
    Italian, active about 1460-1500
    Madonna and Child
    Tempera and oil on panel (see note 10)
    55-3/4 x 21-1/4 in. (arched top)
    63-1/2 x 26-3/8 x 2-5/16 in. (panel with frame)
    On the halo around the Madonna's head is inscribed, "Ave Maria gratia plena Do [minus tecum]."
    The John R. Van Derlip Fund, 75.53Provenance: Lady Arundell of Wardour, purchased in Rome about 1820; Stonyhurst College, Whalley, Lancashire, sold after 1900; Sir Joseph B. Robinson, Cape Town, South Africa, purchased before 1910; Robinson sale, Christie's, July 6, 1923, no. 38 (bought in); Princess Labia, by inheritance; Sotheby & Co., London, December 6, 1967, no. 24, to J. S. Lewis; Wildenstein, New York; The Minneapolis Institute of Arts.Exhibitions: The Robinson Collection, Royal Academy, London, 1958, no. 25; Sir Joseph Robinson Collection, Cape Town, South Africa, 1959, no. 8; Sammlung Sir Joseph Robinson 1840-1929, Kunsthaus, Zurich, 1962, no. 7.References: G. McNeil Rushforth, Carlo Crivelli (London, 1900, second ed., 1910), pp. 45-46, 97, attributed to Carlo Crivelli, about 1470; B. Geiger, "Carlo Crivelli," Thieme-Becker allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler, 8 (Leipzig, 1913), p. 132, lists as "attributed to" Crivelli; B. Berenson, "Nicola di Maestro Antonio di Ancona," Rassegna d'arte, 15 (1915), pp. 171-173 (illus.), attributes to Nicola di Maestro Antonio di Ancona. (This attribution is accepted in all the following literature.)
    F. Drey, Carlo Crivelli und seine Schule (Munich, 1927), pp. 62, 109, 158, pl. XCVI, suggests glass bottle copied directly from Crivelli (Madonna in Glory, National Gallery, London), observes Nicola d'Ancona appears to have first been taught by the Squarcione group in Padua, above all Cosimo Tura and Marco Zoppo, and then little by little he came more under the influence of Crivelli; B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance (Oxford, 1932), p. 398, suggests Nicola d'Ancona was probably a pupil of Matteo da Gualdo, influenced by Marco Zoppo, and a close follower of Carlo Crivelli; R. van Marie, The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting, 15 (The Hague, 1934), p. 97, suggests panel recalls the art of Antonio Vivarini rather than Crivelli; L. Serra, L'Arte nelle Marche: il periodo del Rinascimento, 2 (Rome, 1934), p. 353, suggests early work executed under influence of Marco Zoppo; B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Venetian School (London, 1957), vol. 1, p. 121, again suggests Nicola d'Ancona was probably a pupil of Matteo da Gualdo, influenced by Marco Zoppo, but now observes he was a close "imitator" of Carlo Crivelli; A. Scharf, "The Robinson Collection," Burlington Magazine, 100 (September, 1958), p. 303, sees Crivelli influence, suggests it was painted "a considerable lapse of time" after the 1472 altar now in Pittsburgh. F. Zeri, "Qualcosa su Nicola di Maestro Antonio," Paragone, 107 (November, 1958), p. 40 (reprinted in City of York Art Gallery: Review, 49 [Jan., 1960], pp. 466-471), suggests dates from artist's last period; Apollo, 86 (November, 1967), p. cxxiii, (illus.); Burlington Magazine, 109 (November, 1967), pp. xxi, xlviii (illus.); P. Zampetti, La Pittufa Marchigiana da Gentile a Raffaello (Milan, 1969; English ed., London, 1971), p. 198; "La Chronique des arts," Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 87 (March, 1976), p. 36, no. 138 (illus.).
  2. In Latin, the word for apple and the word for evil, malum, are identical. For this reason the legend grew up that the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden, the fruit of which Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat (Genesis 3:3), was an apple tree.
  3. Berenson, "Nieola di Maestro Antonio di Ancona," Rassegna d'arte, 15 (1915), pp. 165-174.
  4. Three possible documentary references to Nicola d'Ancona (cited by Berenson, op. cit., p. 166) were published by A. Ricci, Memorie Storiche delle arti e degli artisti della marca di Ancona (Macerata, 1954), vol. 1, pp. 233-234, 239-240, notes 7-9. A March 6, 1451, document (Libro del decreti, fol. 75) states "Quod Magistro Nicolao Aurifici concedatur licentia battendi monetas argenteas ad pondus Civitatis Maceratae." Another reference is dated April 1451 (Libro del decreti, fol. 83), "Quod Magister Nicolaus Aurifex de Ancona possit cugnare in zecca Civitatis Maceratae Monetas argenteas sive Bolonde Argento, e pondus Maceratense." Finally, a December 2, 1451, document (Libro del decreti, fol. 150) states, "Quod Magister Niccolaus refirmetur, ac bactend. zeccam in Civitate Maceratae per tribus annis futuris etc." The problem with associating these documents authorizing the minting of silver at Macerata with our painter is that they refer to a Maestro Nicola d'Ancona and not to Nicola di Maestro Antonio di Ancona. More importantly, the Maestro Nicola d'Ancona referred to in the documents is a goldsmith, not a painter. Also, to be called "Magister" requires the artist in question to be over 25 years old. From the style of the surviving works, one of the earliest of which is dated 1472, it appears our artist was born about 1435 or later and hence, was likely only about 16 years old in 1451, the date of the documents. Ricci must have been aware of the signed altar now in Pittsburgh or some other reference, for he states the documents in question refer to "Maestro Niccolà di Antonio di Ancona," even though in fact they mention only a Maestro Nicola d'Ancona. Despite Ricci's association of the documents with our painter, it would appear far more likely that there were two artists named Nicola from Ancona—one was a goldsmith and the other a painter.
  5. Berenson, op. cit., pp. 165-174, attributed to Nicola d'Ancona the St. Mary Magdalen and St. Francis, nos. 96 and 97, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; St. Peter, now Courtauld Institute, London; Pietà, no. 7, Pinacoteca, Jesi; St. John the Baptist, no. 37.687, Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore; St. Anthony Abbot, Tobias Christ Coll., Basel; Madonna and Child with Four Saints, Palazzo Massimo, Rome (Alinari 28049); and the Madonna and Child, no. 75.53, now in Minneapolis.
  6. Brussels, Musée des Beaux-Arts, no. 140, Madonna and Child, signed, central panel from the Montefiore altar (see P. Zampetti, Carlo Crivelli [Milan, 1961] pp. 27-28, 79-80, figs. 56-57).
  7. Berenson, op. cit., pp. 171-172.
  8. Berenson, op. cit., p. 172.
  9. P. Zampetti, Carlo Crivelli e i Crivelleschi (Venice, 1961), no. 56 (exhibition catalogue). See also G. Briganti, "Un inedito di Nicolo di Maestro Antonio," Arte Antica e Moderna (1961), pp. 177-178.
  10. The Minneapolis panel was apparently not part of the same altar. The round-arched Madonna and Child is too tall for the pointed and cusped-arched panels in Baltimore and Avignon, and the simulated marble pavement found in the Minneapolis panel differs. On the Baltimore panel, see F. Zeri, Italian Paintings in the Walters Art Gallery (Baltimore, 1976), pp. 191-192, plate 95; Meryl Johnson and Elisabeth Packard, "Methods Used for the Identification of Binding media in Italian Paintings of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries," Studies in Conservation, 16 (1971), pp. 156-157, figs. 2a,b,c; E. P. Bowron, "Oil and Tempera mediums in Early Italian Paintings," Apollo, 100 (Nov., 1974), pp. 382 (fig. 3), 384-385, note 17, observes that in the floor area of the Baltimore panel Nicola used six layers of tempera mediums and a final seventh layer of copper green in walnut oil to create a translucent quality. Although laboratory tests have not been made on the Minneapolis panel, it would appear that here also in the floor area Nicola again used a final oil medium layer to create special effects. On the Avignon panels, see M. Laclotte and E. Mognetti, Inventaire des collections publiques françaises, Avignon-Musée du Petit Palais (Paris, 1976), nos. 185-186.
  11. Pallucchini, "Commento alla mostra di Ancona," Arte Veneta (1950), p. 18, suggests that the keyhole-shaped panels, the Peità in Jesi and the St. John the Baptist in Baltimore, may have once been part of the same altar.
  12. Zeri, "Qualcosa su Nicola di maestro Antonio," Paragone, 107 (November, 1958), pp. 34-41 (reprinted in City of York Art gallery: Review, 49 [Jan., 1960], pp. 466-471).
  13. See note 4. On the restoration of the Massimo altar, see L. Mortari, "La pala di Nicola di Maestro Antonio in Casa Massimo," Bollettino d'Arte, 46 (Jan., 1961), pp. 174-177.
  14. Since Berenson correctly assigned eight works to Nicola d'Ancona on the basis of the signed altar in Pittsburgh (see note 4), numerous others have been attributed to the artist, of which only eight, in fact, appear to be autographed. They are St. Sebastian between Ss. Jerome and Roch, no. 1448, Gemäldegalerie, East Berlin, under the name Michele da Verona (attributed by Longhi, "Gl'inizi di Nicola di Maestro Antonio da Ancona," Arte Veneta, 7 (1947), pp. 185-186, 196, fig. 144); Lunette with Ss. Anthony, Lucy and Bernard, GFN E 5146, Pinacoteca, Montefortino (attributed by Zeri, op. cit., pp. 40-41, fig. 11); Predella with five scenes, no. 34.844, Brooklyn Museum, New York (attributed by Zeri, op. cit., pp. 34-36); Madonna and Child with Saints and a Donor, no. 291), Vatican Gallery, Rome (attributed by Serra, op. cit., pp. 352-353, fig. 447); Annunciation with Two saints, GFN C 8060, National Gallery, Urbino (attributed by Serra, op. cit., p. 353); Lunette with the Resurrection, no. 81, Art Gallery, York (attributed by Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance [London, 1957], 1. p. 121); and the two fragments representing Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint James the Great, Musée du Petit Palais, Avignon (noted by Zeri, Italian Paintings in the Walters Art Gallery [Baltimore, 1976], p. 192).Longhi's attribution of the Crucifixion in the Accadémia in Venice to Nicola d'Ancona, op. cit., pp. 185-186, p. 195, fig. 143, and Berenson's of St. Jerome Repentant in the Sabauda Gallery, Turin, op. cit., p. 121, remain problematic (see Zeri, op. cit., p. 38, and Zampetti, op. cit., pp. 194-196). Among the works erroneously assigned to Nicola d'Ancona are the Pietà, National Gallery, Urbino (formerly Congregazione di Carità, Sant'Agata Feltria, Urbino), the Dead Christ and Madonna, Dresden, and a drawing of the Pietà and Saints, Bonnat Collection, Bayonne (see L. Puppi, "Aggiunta a Nicola di Maestro Antonio," Emporium 138 [1963], pp. 163-166).The St. Peter, no. 822, Brera, Milan, and the St. Francis, Brivio Collection, Milan, are now both correctly attributed to the Master of the Barberini panels. Of unknown authorship, but surely not by our master, are the Madonna and Child exhibited as Nicola d'Ancona in 1924 at F. Kleinberger, New York, and the two arch-topped panels depicting St. Paul and a Bishop that were attributed to Nicola d'Ancona at the Bukowski Sale, Stockholm, December 12-14, 1934, no. 137.
  15. Berenson, "Nicola di maestro Antonio di Ancona," Rassegna d'arte, 15 (1915), pp. 167-168.
  16. Drey, op. cit., p. 109.
  17. Longhi, op. cit., pp. 185-186.
  18. Creighton Gilbert, in a letter to the museum, observed that the still life in the Minneapolis painting has obvious Flemish allusions, but indirectly, through someone like Filippo Lippi; the combination of glass and fruit and the elegant classical flutings in the columns are also Lippian.
  19. Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen, West Berlin, no. 1162, Madonna and Child with Two Angels, signed lower right OPUS SCLAVONI DALMATICI SQUARCIONI. This painting is the center panel of a triptych formerly in Sd. Francesco, Padua. The side panels are in the sacristy of the Duomo, Padua. See The Picture Gallery, Summary Catalogue of Paintings in the Dahlem Museum (Berlin, 1968), p. 98.
  20. Zeri, op. cit., pp. 36-41; see also Zeri, "Bartolomeo di Tommaso da Foligno," Bollettino d'arte 46, (1961) p. 60. Zeri also observes in the late Annunciation by Nicola in Urbino, the fragment in the Vatican, and the Christ Collection St. Anthony Abbot a return to the Bartolomeo di Tommaso da Foligno influence of his youth.
  21. Serra, op. cit., pp. 351-353, proposed the reverse of this linear stylistic progression and suggested that the Urbino Annunciation was an early work reflecting the influence of Matteo da Gualdo. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance (London, 1932), p. 398, first proposed that Nicola d'Ancona was probably a pupil of Matteo da Gualdo. The Christ Collection St. Anthony Abbott, the Madonna and Child with Saints and a Donor in the Vatican Gallery, and according to Zeri, op. cit., pp. 40-41, the Lunette with Ss. Anthony, Lucy and Bernard in the Pinacoteca in Montefortino are clearly related stylistically to the Urbino Annunciation and, hence, can be considered late works. The St. Sebastian between Ss. Jerome and Roch in East Berlin appears to date more than midway between the 1472 Pittsburgh altar and the late Urbino Annunciation. The face of St. Roch is particularly close to the Madonna in Urbino, hence the work may date about 1490, but not about 1510, as proposed by Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance (London, 1957), 1, p. 121.
Referenced Works of Art
  1. Nicola di Maestro Antonio d'Ancona
    Italian, active ca. 1460-1500
    Madonna and Child
    The John R. Van Derlip Fund 75.53
  2. Detail: face of the Madonna
  3. Detail: Christ Child and the Madonna's hand
  4. Detail: base of throne
  5. Nicola di Maestro Antonio d'Ancona
    Madonna and Child with Saints Leonard, Jerome, John the Baptist and Francis, 1472
    Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh
  6. Carlo Crivelli
    Italian, ca. 1435-ca. 1495
    Madonna and Child, ca. 1470-1475
    Musée des Beaux-Arts, Brussels
  7. Nicola di Maestro Antonio d'Ancona
    Pietà
    Pinacoteca, Jesi
  8. Nicola di Maestro Antonio d'Ancona
    Mary Magdalen
    Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
  9. Nicola di Maestro Antonio d'Ancona
    Saint Francis
    Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
  10. Nicola di Maestro Antonio d'Ancona
    Saint Peter
    Courtauld Institute, London
  11. Nicola di Maestro Antonio d'Ancona
    Saint Bartholomew
    Private Collection, Italy
  12. Nicola di Maestro Antonio d'Ancona
    Saint John the Baptist
    Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore
  13. Nicola di Maestro Antonio d'Ancona
    Saint Francis of Assisi
    Musée du Petit Palais, Avignon
  14. Nicola di Maestro Antonio d'Ancona
    Saint James the Great
    Musée du Petit Palais, Avignon
  15. Nicola di Maestro Antonio d'Ancona
    Resurrection
    City Art Gallery, York
  16. Nicola di Maestro Antonio d'Ancona
    Madonna and Child with Saints John the Baptist, Lawrence, Stephen, and Anthony of Padua
    Palazzo Massimo, Rome
    Photo: Alinari
  17. Nicola di Maestro Antonio d'Ancona
    Predelia: Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, Annunciation, Stoning of Saint Stephen and the Cripplied Appealing to Saint Anthony of Padua
    Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum, New York
  18. Schiavone (Giorgio Chiulinovich)
    Italian, about 1436/1437-1504
    Madonna and Child with Angels
    Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen, West Berlin
  19. Nicola di Maestro Antonio d'Ancona
    Annunciation with Two Saints
    Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, Urbino
    Photo: Alinari
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Source: Gregory Hedberg, "In Favor of Nicola di Maestro Antonio d'Ancono," <i>The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin</i> 62 (1975): 84-99.
Rights: ©MIA
Added to Site: March 10, 2009