Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew and the Miracle of the Bull
Predella panel; companion to two panels in the John G. Johnson Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art (Inv. 1290, 1291)
Cenni di Francesco (Cenni di Francesco Cenni di Ser Cenni), Italian (active Florence, Volterra, and San Gimignano), first documented 1369, died 1414
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This panel was originally part of a long, horizontal plank that was the predella, or base, of an altarpiece. It shows the legend in which Michael, who manifested himself as a bull on Mount Gargano in southern Italy, repelled the arrows of a hunter. Later the clergy and townspeople, seen on the right of the canvas, built a sanctuary to Michael that still stands today. The subject of this scene and the two others that completed the predella—one showing the Martyrdom of Saints John the Baptist and Lawrence and the other representing the Adoration of the Magi (Philadelphia Museum of Art, inv. 1290, 1291)—indicate that the main sections of the altarpiece depicted, from left to right: Saint John the Baptist, Saint Lawrence, the Virgin and Child, Saint Bartholomew, and Saint Michael Archangel. The presence of Saint Lawrence to the right of the Virgin, the traditional place of honor, suggests that the altarpiece was originally in a chapel or church dedicated to that saint, most likely in or near the artist’s hometown of Florence.