Prophet Daniel

Pinnacle from the high altarpiece from Santa Croce, Florence; companion panels are in the Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin-Preussischer Kulturbesitz (cat. no. 1635 A-E); the National Gallery, London (1188, 1189, 3376-3378, 3473, 4191); the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (49.17.40); and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1975.1.7)

Ugolino di Nerio, Italian (active Siena and Florence), documented 1317 - 1327

Geography:
Made in Florence, Italy, Europe

Date:
c. 1325

Medium:
Tempera and tooled gold on panel

Dimensions:
21 1/4 x 12 3/16 inches (54 x 31 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 210, European Art 1100-1500, second floor

Accession Number:
Cat. 89

Credit Line:
John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

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Label:
Pinnacles, or upper sections of large altarpieces, often show Old Testament prophets, whom later Christian writers interpreted as foretelling Christ's coming. This was part of the pinnacle of the high altarpiece of the church of Santa Croce in Florence. The Latin inscription on the scroll is derived from Daniel 2:45 and translates, "stone was cut out of the mountain without hands."

Additional information:
  • PublicationItalian Paintings 1250-1450

    The three-quarter-length figure of the young prophet Daniel, attired in a loose red robe over a green garment, wears a white pyramidal hat. Looking down to the left, he holds a scroll inscribed with a passage taken from the book of his prophecies in which he interprets a dream of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, as a vision of the coming of a Messianic age. Christian writers would later understand this as a divination of the birth of Christ.

    The painting was a pinnacle panel of the Santa Croce altarpiece, which was taken to England, probably by William Young Ottley, in the last decade of the eighteenth century. After the sale of Ottley's collection in 1847, the various panels were dispersed and some lost. Those that have been located are in collections in London, Berlin, Los Angeles, and New York, as well as Philadelphia (see Reconstruction (from Bomford et al. 1989) of Ugolino di Nerio's Santa Croce altarpiece, showing the surviving fragments: Companion panels A-V). A drawing executed for the French art writer Jean-Baptiste Séroux d'Agincourt (see Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. lat. 9847, folios 91 verso-92 recto) the decade before its purchase by Ottley shows that the altarpiece was already in poor condition. The drawing, found by Henri Loyrette in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana in 1978, seems to reproduce the altarpiece's original appearance faithfully. Dillian Gordon's technical researches of 1984 (see Reconstruction (from Bomford et al. 1989) of Ugolino di Nerio's Santa Croce altarpiece, showing the surviving fragments: Companion panels A-V)1 confirmed the basic accuracy of Séroux d'Agincourt's drawing, although earlier reconstructions made by Davies (1951), Gertrude Coor (1955), and Davies (1961) before the discovery of the drawing had been essentially correct. Loyrette (1978) and Christa Gardner von Teuffel (1979) also made proposals based on the drawing. In addition, three engravings of saints in the altarpiece were made by Giovanni Antonio Baccanelli in the seventeenth century.2

    In Séroux d'Agincourt's drawing the prophet Daniel is not identified, but a figure in a pose similar to that of the Johnson Collection's Daniel is shown in the pinnacle on the far right. Loyrette rejected the association between the two, however, because the figure in the drawing is bearded and without a cap. But an X-radiograph of Daniel (see X-radiograph of Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection cat. 89, showing the original triangular addition and repair to the split secured by nails near the top of the panel) showed that it was executed on the same piece of vertically grained poplar as Saints Matthias and Elizabeth of Hungary(?) (see Berlin, Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Gemäldegalerie, cat. 1635D) in Berlin and, therefore, definitely belonged to the altarpiece, since each of its vertical units was composed of a single plank of wood (see Drawing showing the construction of a vertical unit of the Santa Croce altarpiece (from Bomford et al. 1989)).

    The main altar of Santa Croce was under the patronage of the Alamanni family until at least 1439.3 According to Vincenzo Borghini (1552-80, Lorenzoni ed. 1912, pp. 102-4), Ugolino's altarpiece bore their arms, which consisted of liste azzure on a campo bianco, or blue strips on a white field. The arms no longer exist, however, and are not visible in the drawing made for Séroux d'Agincourt.

    The date of the altarpiece is uncertain, but it is often placed at about 1325 based on its relationship to Ugolino's now-lost painting once on the high altar of Santa Maria Novella, which is known to have been commissioned by Fra Barone Sassetti, who died in 1324. From an obituary in the church's necrology, it is often assumed that that altarpiece was in place before Sassetti's death, and records of payments for oil lamps to illuminate paintings in the church indicate that it may have been installed as early as 1323.4 A seventeenth-century chronicler of the convent gave the date as 1320.

    There is no record of whether Ugolino painted the Santa Croce altarpiece before or after the one in Santa Maria Novella. A memorandum related to a loan he made to a fellow resident of Siena, dated May 21, 1325,5 is often cited as evidence that Ugolino had returned to Siena by this point and therefore that the Florentine altarpieces were finished. The document, however, is ambiguous; it says only that the painter-or someone on his behalf-made the loan, which means that Ugolino could well have still been in Florence.

    The two polyptychs are thought to have been similar in type because of their common location on the high altars of recently built mendicant churches of comparable architecture. If any part of the Santa Maria Novella altarpiece survives, it may be the pinnacle panel depicting the prophet Isaiah in Dublin (see Dublin, National Gallery of Ireland, cat. 1112),6 as well as the Saint Peter and Saint Francis in the Misericordia of San Casciano Val di Pesa.7 While this is only conjecture, its similarity to the pinnacle panels of the Santa Croce altarpiece suggests that it came from an analogous structure. The Isaiah in Dublin would be precedent in date, because the gold is incised, not punched, and the manner more decidedly Duccesque than Ugolino's later work.

    Ugolino's Daniel relates very closely to the pinnacle in an altarpiece in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Siena (see Siena, Pinacoteca Nazionale, no. 47) created in Duccio's workshop. It bears many similarities to the Santa Croce polyptych both in structure, such as the pairing of the prophets in the second tier, and in details, such as the resemblance between the figures of Daniel.8 Also very close to the Johnson Daniel is the Daniel in the pinnacle in Ugolino di Nerio's early polyptych in Williamstown (see Williamstown, Massachusetts, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, no. 1962.148).9 In all three images, the prophet wears the same folded triangular cap, which was not the traditional manner of depicting the young Daniel. For example, he wears no hat in Duccio's Maestà for Santa Maria Novella.10 However, Duccio did paint the prophet with a hat on the tympanum of the tabernacle in the National Gallery in London, executed around 1310-15, possibly for Cardinal Niccolò da Prato.11 The inscription on the scroll in the latter is the same as in Ugolino's Daniel. In time the hat would become common in trecento Sienese images of the prophet.12 For example, the Vertine Master used it in the pinnacle of Daniel from a lateral panel of his altarpiece in Volterra.13 Carl Brandon Strehlke, from Italian paintings, 1250-1450, in the John G. Johnson Collection and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2004, pp. 430-436.

    Notes:

    1. Martin Davies. The Early Italian Schools: Before 1400. Revised by Dillian Gordon. National Gallery Catalogues. London, 1988; David Bomford, Jill Dunkerton, Dillian Gordon, and Ashok Roy, with contributions by Jill Kirby. Art in the Making: Italian Painting before 1400. London, 1989. Exhibition, London, National Gallery, November 29, 1989-February 28, 1990, pp. 98-123.
    2. Christa Gardner von Teuffel. "The Buttressed Altarpiece: A Forgotten Aspect of Tuscan Fourteenth-Century Altarpiece Design." Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen (West Berlin), n.s., vol. 21 (1979), pp. 21-65, figs. 24-25.
    3. Martin Davies. National Gallery Catalogues: The Earlier Italian Schools. London, 1951, p. 410; Marcia B. Hall. Renovation and Counter Reformation: Vasari and Duke Cosimo in Sta. Maria Novella and Sta. Croce, 1565-1577. Oxford, 1979, p. 154.
    4. For the history of the Santa Maria Novella altarpiece, see Joanna Cannon. "Simone Martini, the Dominicans, and the Early Sienese Polyptych." Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes (London), vol. 45 (1982), pp. 87-91.
    5. James H. Stubblebine. Duccio di Buoninsegna and His School. 2 vols. Princeton, 1979, pp. 211-12.
    6. See Gordon in Davies and Gordon 1988, p. 115 n. 45. Stubblebine (1979, pp. 181-82) attributed this to the Brolio Master.
    7. Stubblebine 1979, figs. 417-18. See Aldo Galli in Alessandro Bagnoli, ed. Duccio: alle origini della pittura. Cinisello Balsamo (Milan), 2003. Exhibition, Siena, Santa Maria della Scala, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, October 4, 2003-January 11, 2004, pp. 354-55.
    8. Stubblebine 1979, pp. 67-68.
    9. Stubblebine (1979, pp. 182-83) denies the attribution to Ugolino di Nerio and calls the artist the Clark Polyptych Master, saying that it was painted between 1325 and 1330.
    10. See the detail in Stubblebine 1979, fig. 20. Also see Cannon 1982, p. 77 and n. 62.
    11. No. 566; Stubblebine 1979, figs. 128, 130.
    12. Sometimes a Magus is depicted wearing a similar hat, as in the now-lost panel of the Adoration by a Duccesque follower called the Seminary Madonna Master (Stubblebine 1979, fig. 345).
    13. Pinacoteca e Museo Civico di Palazzo Minucci Solaini, no. 15; Stubblebine 1979, fig. 290; Franco Lessi. Volterra: la Pinacoteca e il Museo Civico di Palazzo Minucci Solaini. Milan, 1986, color repro. p. 13. Stubblebine incorrectly identified the prophet as David.

    Bibliography:

    Giorgio Vasari. Le vite de' più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architettori nelle redazioni del 1550 e 1568. Text edited by Rosanna Bettarini. Commentary edited by Paola Barocchi. vol. 2 (text). Florence, 1967, pp. 139-40;
    Guglielmo Della Valle. Lettere senesi di un socio dell'Accademia di Fossano sopra le belle arti. vol. 2. Venice, 1785. Reprint, Bologna, 1876, p. 200;
    Gustav Friedrich Waagen. Kunstwerke und Künstler in England und Paris. vol. 1. Berlin, 1837, pp. 393-95;
    Gustav Friedrich Waagen. Works of Art and Artists in England. English translation by Hannibal Evans Lloyd. Introduction to reprint by R. W. Lightbown. vol. 2. London, 1838. Reprint, London, 1970, pp. 121-23;
    Gustav Friedrich Waagen. Treasures of Art in Great Britain: Being an Account of the Chief Collections of Paintings, Drawings, Sculptures, Illuminated Mss., &c. vol. 2. London, 1854, pp. 461-62;
    George Scharf, Jr., in Manchester, Museum of Ornamental Art. Catalogue of the Art Treasures of the United Kingdom Collected at Manchester in 1857. Exhibition, 1857, p. 15;
    London, Royal Academy of Arts. Exhibition of Works by the Old Masters, and by Deceased Masters of the British School. . . . Exhibition, Winter 1878, p. 35, diagram p. 34;
    Langton Douglas in J. A. Crowe and G. B. Cavalcaselle. A History of Painting in Italy: Umbria, Florence, and Siena from the Second to the Sixteenth Century. Vol. 3 edited by Langton Douglas. London, 1908, p. 23 n.;
    Vincenzo Borghini. Carteggio artistico inedito. Edited by A. Lorenzoni. Vol. 1. Florence, 1912;
    Bernhard Berenson. Catalogue of a Collection of Paintings and Some Art Objects. Vol. 1, Italian Paintings. Philadelphia, 1913, pp. 51-52, repro. p. 287;
    Bernhard Berenson. "Ugolino Lorenzetti." Art in America (New York), vol. 6, no. 1 (December 1917), p. 33;
    Bernhard Berenson. Essays in the Study of Sienese Painting. New York, 1918, p. 20;
    Francis Mason Perkins. "Some Sienese Paintings in American Collections." Art in America (New York), vol. 8, no. 5 (August 1920), p. 205 n. 7;
    Raimond van Marle. The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. vol. 2. The Hague, 1924, pp. 104-5;
    Curt H. Weigelt. Die sienesische Malerei des vierzehnten Jahrhunderts. Florence, 1930, p. 73 n. 33;
    "Handbook of the Display Collection of the Art of the Middle Ages." The Pennsylvania Museum Bulletin (Philadelphia), vol. 26, no. 140 (March 1931), p. 41;
    Fiske Kimball. "The Display Collection of the Art of the Middle Ages." The Pennsylvania Museum Bulletin (Philadelphia), vol. 26, no. 141 (April 1931), pp. 23;
    Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: A List of the Principal Artists and Their Works with an Index of Places. Oxford, 1932, p. 583;
    George Harold Edgell. A History of Sienese Painting. New York, 1932, p. 62;
    Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento: catalogo dei principali artisti e delle loro opere con un indice dei luoghi. Translated from the English by Emilio Cecchi. Collezione "Valori plastici." Milan, 1936, p. 501;
    John G. Johnson Collection: Catalogue of Paintings. Foreword by Henri Marceau. Philadelphia, 1941, p. 17;
    Cesare Brandi. Duccio. Florence, 1951, p. 153;
    Martin Davies. National Gallery Catalogues: The Earlier Italian Schools. London, 1951, p. 412;
    Pietro Toesca. Il trecento. Storia dell'arte italiana, 2. Turin, 1951, p. 519 n. 46;
    Gertrude Coor. "Contributions to the Study of Ugolino di Nerio's Art." The Art Bulletin (New York), vol. 38, no. 3 (September 1955), p. 154;
    Enzo Carli. Sienese Painting. London, 1956, p. 25, fig. 8;
    Martin Davies. National Gallery Catalogues: The Earlier Italian Schools. 2nd rev. ed. London, 1961, pp. 535-36;
    John Pope-Hennessy in Williamstown, Mass., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Heptaptych: Ugolino da Siena. Exhibition, September 1962. Catalogue by John Pope-Hennessy, p. 9;
    [Barbara Sweeny]. John G. Johnson Collection: Catalogue of Italian Paintings. Foreword by Henri Marceau. Philadelphia, 1966, pp. 77-78, repro. p. 85;
    Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: A List of the Principal Artists and Their Works with an Index of Places. Central Italian and North Italian Schools. 3 vols. Rev. and enlarged ed. London, 1968, p. 438 (Ugolino);
    Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, 1972, p. 207;
    Henri Loyrette. "Une source pour la reconstruction du polyptyque d'Ugolino da Siena à Santa Croce." Paragone-arte (Florence), vol. 29, no. 343 (September 1978), p. 23 n. 43;
    Christa Gardner von Teuffel. "The Buttressed Altarpiece: A Forgotten Aspect of Tuscan Fourteenth- Century Altarpiece Design." Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen (West Berlin), n.s., vol. 21 (1979), p. 48 n. 69;
    James H. Stubblebine. Duccio di Buoninsegna and His School. 2 vols. Princeton, 1979, pp. 67, 120, 164-66, fig. 406;
    Dillian Gordon and Anthony Reeve. "Three Newly Acquired Panels from the Altarpiece for Santa Croce by Ugolino di Nerio." National Gallery Technical Bulletin (London), vol. 8 (1984), pp. 36-52, fig. 4 (reconstruction);
    Henk W. van Os. Sienese Altarpieces, 1215-1460: Form, Content, Function. Vol. 1, 1215-1344. Contribution by Kees van der Ploeg, "On Architectural and Liturgical Aspects of Siena Cathedral in the Middle Ages." Groningen, 1984, p. 65, fig. 77;
    Giovanna Ragionieri in Giorgio Vasari. Le vite de' più eccellenti architetti, pittori et scultori italiani, da Cimabue insino a' tempi nostri nell'edizione per i tipi di Lorenzo Torrentino, Firenze 1550. Edited by Luciano Bellosi and Aldo Rossi. Introduction by Giovanni Previtali. I millenni. Turin, 1986, pp. 135-36 n. 3;
    Miklós Boskovits. Gemäldegalerie Berlin: Katalog der Gemälde: Frühe italienische Malerei. Translated and edited by Erich Schleier. Berlin, 1988, p. 171;
    Martin Davies. The Early Italian Schools: Before 1400. Revised by Dillian Gordon. National Gallery Catalogues. London, 1988, pp. 110-12, 115 n. 32;
    David Bomford, Jill Dunkerton, Dillian Gordon, and Ashok Roy, with contributions by Jill Kirby. Art in the Making: Italian Painting before 1400. London, 1989. Exhibition, London, National Gallery, November 29, 1989-February 28, 1990, pp. 100, 111, fig. 60 (reconstruction);
    Philadelphia Museum of Art. Paintings from Europe and the Americas in the Philadelphia Museum of Art: A Concise Catalogue. Philadelphia, 1994, repro. p. 236;
    Aldo Galli in Alessandro Bagnoli, ed. Duccio: alle origini della pittura. Cinisello Balsamo (Milan), 2003. Exhibition, Siena, Santa Maria della Scala, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, October 4, 2003-January 11, 2004, p. 348

    Companion panels for Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection cat. 89
    A. Isaiah, London, National Gallery, no. 3376.
    B. David, London, National Gallery, no. 6485.
    C. Moses, London, National Gallery, no. 6484.
    D. Daniel, Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection cat. 89.
    E. Saints Matthew and James Minor, Berlin, Staatliche Museen, cat. 1635E.
    F. Saints Bartholomew and Andrew, London, National Gallery, no. 3473.
    G. Saint James Major and Philip, Berlin, Staatliche Museen, cat. 1635C.
    H. Saints Simon and Thaddeus, London, National Gallery, no. 3377.
    I. Saints Matthias and Elizabeth of Hungary(?), Berlin, Staatliche Museen, cat. 1635D.
    J. Saint John the Baptist, Berlin, Staatliche Museen, cat. 1635.
    K. Saint Paul, Berlin, Staatliche Museen, cat. 1635.
    L. Ten Angels, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, no. 49.17.40.
    M. Saint Peter, Berlin, Staatliche Museen, cat. 1635.
    N. Two Angels, London, National Gallery, no. 3378.
    O. Two Angels, London, National Gallery, no. 6486.
    P. Last Supper, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman Collection, no. 1975.1.7.
    Q. Betrayal, London, National Gallery, no. 1188.
    R. Flagellation, Berlin, Staatliche Museen, cat. 1635A.
    S. Way to Calvary, London, National Gallery, no. 1189.
    T. Deposition, London, National Gallery, no. 3375.
    U. Entombment, Berlin, Staatliche Museen, cat. 1635B.
    V. Resurrection, London, National Gallery, no. 4191.


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