Agnolo Gaddi

Madonna and Child, circa 1373, tempera on panel, gold ground

This panel is one of the earliest works of Agnolo Gaddi, undeniably the most important Florentine artist of the late 14th century. The son of Taddeo Gaddi, the painter who had been Giotto's "first pupil" for fully 24 years, and the younger brother of Giovanni Gaddi who also has a panel on display in this exhibition, Agnolo trained in Florence in the 1360s with the Orcagna brothers and with Giovanni da Milano, who ran what were then the city's most industrious workshops. He embarked on his own career at the start of the following decade, acquiring a reputation for his very fine handling of colour and for his skill in conveying intimate affection in his figures' gestures, as indeed we can see in this panel. His role as heir to the Florentine tradition resulted in the 1380s and '90s in his receiving the most important commissions for frescoes, starting with the decoration of the Chancel Chapel in the church of Santa Croce. Art historian Angelo Tartuferi has suggested that the the panel on display here may originally have graced the church of Santa Maria Novella.