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Bicci di Lorenzo

Florence, 1373 - 1452

Bicci’s lasting activity is bursting with a strong coherence and a consistent traditionalist style. Creating a perfect balance between the ideals of the late Trecento and the early fifteenth century genre-like realism, he managed to develop a harmonious conservative approach that seemed to please the taste of the time; his elegant and skilfully executed works were highly appreciated and he received a steady flow of commissions for altarpieces and frescoes.

Bicci di Lorenzo - Man of Sorrows with the Virgin Mary and Saint John - Flavio Gianassi -


The Man of Sorrows with the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Evangelist 

Tempera on panel, Ø 24 cm (each)


Florence, Achille de Clemente collection

New York, American Art Association, 15 -17 January 1931, lot 193 

New York, Sotheby’s Parke-Bernet, 20 January 1971, lot 1 

Milan, Gilberto Algranti, 1971

Milan, Leasarte Società per l’Arte del Gruppo BNL, 1987

New York, Sotheby’s, 29 January 2015, lot 119

Paris, private collection 



B. Berenson, Quadri senza casa: Il Trecento fiorentino, in "Dedalo" IV-V, Milano 1932, pp. 184-186 

G. Pudelko, The Maestro del Bambino Vispo, in "Art in America", 1938, p. 58 n. 27

B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance - Florentine School, London 1963, p. 141 

B. Berenson, Homeless Paintings of the Renaissance, Bloomington 1969, p. 146-147 

G. Algranti, Antologia di dipinti di cinque secoli, Milano 1971

M. Gaeta, Antologia di dipinti antichi, Milano 1987, n. 3

Bicci di Lorenzo - Flavio Gianassi

In the 1931 New York sale of the renowned professor and collector Achille de Clemente, the roundels were presented as by the hand of Agnolo Gaddi. The illustrious collector specified that the highest consideration had been taken of the “opinions of eminent art critics of the day, both Italian and foreign” and that the attributions had been “deeply pondered”. Bernard Berenson later published in 1932 and in 1963 the work as by the Master of the Bambino Vispo, an artist now thought to be identifiable with Gherardo Starnina, attribution confirmed by Pudelko. Berenson did, however, concede that these panels were executed differently from other works by the Master of the Bambino Vispo and, comparing them to another predella depicting the Pietà with saint Magalen and saint John the Baptist, he wrote, “the same artist is, however, entirely Tuscan in het three medalions of a Predela where the same theme is as completely presented in another and perhaps intrinsically nobler language.”.​ 

Miklós Boskovits was the first to ascribe these striking predella roundels to Bicci di Lorenzo in 1978. This attribution was confirmed by Sonia Chiodo who dated the panel around 1415-1420, at the same time Bicci di Lorenzo created the small altarpiece of the Madonna and Child, Saint Catherine, Saint Anthony and Angels in the Museo del Tesoro della Basilica in Assisi.

Bicci di Lorenzo was born in Florence in 1373 and was the son of Lorenzo di Bicci, and father of Neri di Bicci, both of whom painter. From his father he inherited not only his technical skill and a form tradition, but also a well-established, those were elements that ensure the success of a production maintaining a good qualitative level. Bicci’s artistic training started most probably in his father’s shop during the last decade of the fourteenth century. In 1404, by the time he was enrolled in the Arte dei Medici e Speziali in Florence, he was most likely leading the family business. The Orcagnesque heritage of his father’s art affected Bicci’s style from the first two decades of the fifteenth century, although he also seems to follow closely the more fluent linear modulations in paintings by Agnolo Gaddi and Spinello Aretino. This can be seen in his first known dated work (1414), depicting the Annunciation with Saints in the Pieve di Santa Maria Assunta in Stia, and throughout his production of the following years, as in the triptych dated 1430 with the Madonna and Child between Saint Bartholomew, Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Mary Magdalen and Saint Anthony Abbot from the church of San Bartolomeo at Vertine in Chianti, now in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Siena.  Like in these panels, he places emphasis on the humanity of the depicted figures, representing them with expressive characters and lively colours. 

Bicci di Lorenzo - Flavio Gianassi
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