Spinello Aretino

St. John the Evangelist, 1382-1387

This was the first right-hand side panel of a five-section polyptych whose central panel depicted a Madonna and Child Enthroned with the figures of St. Augustine on the left and St. Dominic on the right. The polyptych was probably completed by a now lost predella. The presence of St. Dominic has suggested to some scholars that the polyptych must originally have been painted for a church of the Dominican Order of Preachers. The artist has been identified as Spinello Aretino, a painter from Arezzo who worked chiefly in Florence and Siena. Arriving in Florence in 1387, he was almost immediately commissioned to fresco the sacristy of San Miniato al Monte, his taste for detail and the richness of his palette earning him instant popularity in the city. The absolute mastery of the transparency of light in the saint's mantle allows us to date this panel to the same phase in his career as the frescoes in San Miniato.