Master of 1310

Madonna and Child, tempera on panel, gold ground, c. 1303

The exhibition opens with a masterpiece by one of the most mysterious and fascinating artists of the 14th century, the Master of 1310, a painter from Pistoia named for the date inscribed on the base of a famous Madonna and Child Enthroned now in the Musée du Petit Palais in Avignon. While his identity has not come down to us, he was indisputably the role model for painters in Pistoia and the Tuscan Appennines in the early 14th century. While clearly aware of the stylistic innovations introduced by Giotto in Florence, the Master of 1310 is noteworthy for embracing style of French art and, in particular, of illumination. The expressive treatment of emotion that is such a feature of his work shines through with exemplary clarity in this superb painting, in which the resolute temperament of the Virgin is softened by the sweetness of her blue eyes which unavoidably monopolise our attention.