The Illusion of the American Frontier
From 03 November 2015 to 07 February 2016
Early booking is recommended
This panel was acquired in Florence in 1972, at which point it was attributed to Altichiero da Verona (active ca. 1369-before 1393). Unpublished and without any bibliography, the panel was published for the first time almost twenty years later in the detailed study of the Early Italian paintings in the Thysen-Bornemisza collection written by Miklós Boskovits.
From the panel’s structure and the subject it can be deduced that, like many other early works in the collection, this Coronation was not designed as an independent work but was rather the central panel of a small-scale triptych intended for private devotion. Two areas of paint loss are evident, although neither are crucial for a reading of the composition: they are on the left side of the throne and at the lower edge of the dais. Both areas have been filled in with broad, neutral strokes. This integration, like the cleaning of the paint surface, was carried out before the panel entered the collection.
Giovanni da Bologna may have started his career in Venice, as has been suggested on the basis of his earliest attributed works, and he is documented intermittently in Treviso and in Venice. Only four, signed works are known by the artist, divided between three Italian museums and a US one. Some experts have detected the hand of Jacopo degli Avanzi or Altichiero da Verona in these works. It has also been suggested that he was influenced by two Venetian artists: Guariento and Lorenzo Veneciano.
The Coronation of the Virgin was part of the cycle of the Glorification, and like other episodes in the life of Mary, it does not appear in the Gospels. Once again the subject was disseminated through The Golden Legend by Jacopo da Voragine. Giovanni da Bologna used models prevailing in the 13th and 14th centuries in which Christ crowns his mother with both figures seated on a throne. The painter constructs an intimate scene in which the Virgin and Christ are located in the foreground, only accompanied by four discrete angels who lean their heads over the back of the throne.
The change of attribution was proposed by Boskovits, who did not detect the grandeur and serenity characteristic of Altichiero in this Coronation. The simplification evident in the construction of the images along with the tendency to create depth through strong contrasts of light and dark areas, as well as the construction of the figures from almost regular geometrical forms led Boskovits to suggest the creator of this panel to be Giovanni da Bologna. Both stylistically and chronologically, he related the panel to the triptych in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Bologna, which has a Crucifixion in the centre framed on the lateral wings by two saints.