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Master of Saint Francis
Saint John the Evangelist

c. 1272
tempera on panel
painted surface: 48.3 × 22.5 cm (19 × 8 7/8 in)
Executed in all probability for the church of San Francesco al Prato in Perugia, where at least part of the fragments belonging to the same altarpiece were still preserved in 1793; [1] probably privately owned in Perugia; [2] Anton de Waal [1837–1917], Rome; [3] probably (Paolo Paolini, Rome), by 1921; [4] Philip Lehman [1861–1947], New York, by 1928; sold June 1943 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; [5] gift 1952 to NGA.

[1] William Young Ottley (A Series of Plates Engraved after the Paintings and Sculptures of the Most Eminent masters of the Early Florentine School, London, 1826: pl. 1) describes having seen the Deposition and Lamentation, from the same altarpiece and now in the Galleria Nazionale in Perugia, in the convent of San Francesco in Perugia in 1793. Evidently, as Dillan Gordon (“A Perugian provenience for the Franciscan double - sided altar - piece by the Maestro di S. Francesco,” The Burlington Magazine 124 [1982]: 72 n. 41) observes, the altarpiece had already been sawn apart at that time; see the following note. Previously, Robert Lehman (The Philip Lehman Collection, New York, Paris, 1928: nos. CXII–CXIII), Edward B. Garrison (Italian Romanesque Panel Painting. An Illustrated Index, Florence, 1949: 171), and others proposed a provenance from Assisi for both NGA 1952.5.15 and .16. Jurgen Schultze (“Ein Dugento - altar aus Assisi? Versuch einer Rekonstruktion,” Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Istituts Florenz 10 [1961]: 59-66; “Zur Kunst des Franziskusmeister,” Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 25 [1963]: 109-150; “Die Fresken in der Unterkirche von San Francesco zu Assisi und andere Werke des Franziskusmeister,” Raggi 7, no. 2 [1967]: 44-58) and Luiz C. Marques (La peinture du Duecento en Italie Centrale, Paris, 1987: 61-64) maintain that the painting to which the NGA panels originally belonged was executed for the high altar of the lower church of San Francesco in Assisi, but most others have abandoned that theory.
[2] The two panels with Stories of Christ entered the Accademia di Belle Arti in Perugia in 1810 (and thence into the Galleria Nazionale, as no. 22) following the suppression of the religious orders. The panel of Saint Anthony (no. 21) that originally flanked the scene of Lamentation was acquired some time later by the Municipio of Perugia for the then Pinacoteca Civica (see Francesco Santi, Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria. Dipinti, sculture e oggetti d’arte di età romanica e gotica, Rome, 1969: 28). Probably, as in various other cases (see for example Miklós Boskovits and David Alan Brown, Italian Paintings of the Fifteenth Century, The Systematic Catalogue of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2003: 120), the components of the dossal remained in the convent even after its dispersal, perhaps distributed for devotional reasons in the cells and then removed by individual friars after its suppression. Whatever the case, the panels that did not enter the Galleria Nazionale in Perugia apparently surfaced together on the art market in the last decades of the nineteenth century. It was probably in the same period that the figure of the Prophet Isaiah entered the treasury of the basilica in Assisi.
[3] Anton de Waal arrived in Rome from his native Germany in 1868 and in 1873 became rector of the Collegio Teutonico of Santa Maria in Campo Santo in the same city, where he formed a small museum (Erwin Gatz, Anton de Waal (1837-1917) un der Campo Santo Teutonico, Freiburg/Breisgau, 1980). According to Schultze (1961, 64), the four panels formerly forming part of the altarpiece in San Francesco al Prato were sold by the arch-confraternity of Santa Maria della Pietà in Campo Santo Teutonico in 1921.
[4] According to John Pope-Hennessy and Laurence B. Kanter (The Robert Lehman Collection, I, Italian Paintings, New York and Princeton, 1987: 80), the panel with Saints Bartholomew and Simon now in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Robert Lehman Collection, no. 1975.1.104), was with the dealer Paolo Paolini in Rome before Philip Lehman purchased it together with NGA 1952.5.15 and .16.
[5] Robert Lehman, The Philip Lehman Collection, New York, Paris, 1928: nos. 61, 62. The bill of sale for the Kress Foundation’s purchase of fifteen paintings from the Lehman collection, including NGA 1952.5.15 and .16, is dated 11 June 1943; payment was made four days later (copy in NGA curatorial files). The documents concerning the 1943 sale all indicate that Philip Lehman’s son Robert Lehman (1892–1963) was owner of the paintings, but it is not clear in the Lehman Collection archives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, whether Robert made the sale for his father or on his own behalf. See Laurence Kanter’s e-mail of 6 May 2011, about ownership of the Lehman collection, in NGA curatorial files.
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