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The Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints

Italo-Byzantine School

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

circa 1317 - 1350

Materials

Egg tempera and gold on panel

Measurements

394 x 279 mm (15 1/2 x 11 in)

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Collection

Polesden Lacey, Surrey (Accredited Museum)

On show at

Polesden Lacey, Surrey, London and South East, National Trust

NT 1246462

Caption

The origin of this triptych, which incorporates both medieval Italian and Byzantine styles of painting, is contentious. Most recently it has been identified as the work of a Constantinople-trained master working to the requirements of a patron in Venice where the iconography of the Eastern Orthodox Church continued to be revered into the 14th century (Bacci 2013). The individuals who commissioned private devotional objects such as this would select saints for depiction according to their own or their family's namesakes, or who were connected to significant places or events in their lives. These holy personages were to act as intercessors of their prayers. This hierarchical conception of the sacred realm is reflected in the tiered organisation of the triptych, with the Virgin and Christ Child enthroned in Glory in the central panel and the saints arranged below and on each wing.

Summary

Egg tempera and gold painting on panel, The Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints, Italo-Byzantine School, early 14th century. A Crucifixion in the gable of the central panel and an Annunciation across the gables of each side panel. The saints and other figures are as follows: central panel, the Virgin, Child and angels with Saints Peter and Paul, in the squinches above the arch are Saints John and Saint Luke; below, Saint Lucy of Syracuse, Saint Margaret (possibly of Cortona or Antioch), Theodosia (presumably the Empress), and Saint Catherine. Left-hand panel, the Archangel Michael between Saints Cosmas and Damian under the lion of Saint Mark; below, Saint George killing the dragon. Right-hand panel, Saint John the Baptist between Saints Nicholas and Anthony Abbot under the angel of Saint Matthew; below, Saint Dominic between Saints Francis and Louis of Toulouse.

Provenance

The date of acquisition by Margaret Greville (1863-1942) is unrecorded. It was originally kept at her house in Charles Street, London. Bequeathed in 1942 by Margaret Helen Greville DBE (1863-1942) to the National Trust, along with the Polesden Lacey Estate in memory of her father William McEwan MP (1827-1913). [The probate inventory of January 1943 shows this on the record for Polesden Lacey pictures, drawings etc., stored in the safe, page 175.]

Credit line

Polesden Lacey, The McEwan Collection (National Trust)

Marks and inscriptions

two paper labels, the earlier with the letters DO followed by numbers and the date 1929 (inventory of Mrs Greville?). the later label has what is thought to be a storage number, following the 1960 fire (on reverse) Verso: on back of right wing, over ruddling, in big black-painted letters: A.A. – the second A over, in thinner black paint: no 57; and on the left-hand wing, in same thick black: 64; two paper labels, the earlier with the letters DO followed by numbers, and the date 1929 (an inventory number of Mrs. Greville’s? quaere whether there is not a similar label on the back of the Corneille de Lyon pseudo-James V, and perhaps others on other pictures?); the latter has what is thought to be a storage number, following the 1960 fire. Verso: Label on back of shadow-box, inscribed in black ink: W. O. / 4343 / 7/2/29 [see also POL/P/15, the Corneille de Lyon portrait of an unknown man, called James V, which bears the label: W.O. / 7743 / 15/1/36; and PET/P/311, Van Dyck’s portrait of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, which bears the octagonal label, inscribed in biro: WO / 13557 / 3]; large label printed: 264

Makers and roles

Italo-Byzantine School, photographer

Exhibition history

Byzantium: Treasures of Byzantine Art & Culture from British Collections, British Museum, London, 1994, no.223

References

Polesden Lacey, Surrey [The National Trust; St. John Gore] 1964, p.19, no.21 Frinta 1987 Mojmír S. Frinta, ‘Searching for an Adriatic Painting Workshop with Byzantine Connection’, ЗОЃРαФ [Zograf], vol.18, 1987, pp.14-18 Byzantium: Treasures of Byzantine Art & Culture from British Collections (exh cat) (ed. David Buckton), British Museum, London, 9 December 1994 - 23 April 1995, pp.206-207, no.223 Bacci 2013, Michele Bacci, 'Some Thoughts on Greco-Venetian Artistic Interactions in the Fourteenth and Early-Fifteenth Centuries' in Wonderful Things: Byzantium through its Art, ed. Antony Eastmond and Liz James, Farnham and Burlington, VT 2013, pp.203-11 Chu 2017 John Chu, The Pictures at Polesden Lacey, National Trust, 2017, p.12

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