Branchini Madonna
1427
Giovanni di Paolo (Italian, 1403-1482)
On View

“Surrounded by multi-winged seraphim, the Virgin Mary is presented holding the infant Jesus who reaches tenderly for his mother and slightly touches her diaphanous veil. God the Father is also surrounded by a heavenly host above and gestures in both blessing and judgment. The dove representing the Holy Spirit radiates divine light. A variety of luminous effects were achieved with stamping and tooling gold, and as a result of the inclusion of glass gems set within Mary’s crown. Seen in candlelight, the whole ensemble would have been spectacularly spiritual. Attention to such natural details as the flowers strewn beneath Mary and the sumptuous fabrics contributes to the overall splendor and the theological message. Roses, carnations, marigolds and corn-flowers, for example, are symbols associated with the Holy Family and the Trinity and interestingly are also elements woven into the textiles. The painting is in a fine state of preservation. It is rare for a panel of this scale to have survived almost completely intact. The artist inscribed on the bottom of the frame in Latin “Giovanni of Siena son of Paolo painted [this in] 1427." Additional inscriptions include the opening lines of the Ave Maria and a poignant petition written within Mary’s halo: “I painted this for you. Virgin, Protect this man.”

Details

  • Artist Name: Giovanni di Paolo (Italian, 1403-1482)
  • Title: Branchini Madonna
  • Date: 1427
  • Medium: Tempera and gold leaf on panel
  • Dimensions: 72 x 39 in. (182.9 x 99.1 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation
  • Accession Number: F.1978.01.P
  • Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation

Object Information

Church of San Domenico, Siena, by 1427 (second altar on left of entrance);
Convent of San Domenico, Siena, Refectory, by 1649.
Galgano Saracini (d. 1824), Palazzo Saracini, Siena, by 1819, bequeathed to one of two sons;
Marcantonio Saracini (1805-1848) or Alessandro Giulio Saracini (1807-1877), by inheritance to;
Prince Chigi-Saracini, Siena, inventory no. 1263, sold c. 1922 to;
Robert von Hirsch (1883-1977), Frankfurt and Basel (sale, London, Sotheby’s, 21 June 1978, lot 103);
The Norton Simon Foundation.

Austellung von Meisterwerken alter Malerei aus Privatbesitz

  • Frankfurt am Main, Städlisches Kunstinstitut, 1925 to 1925
Heywood, W.; and L. Olcott, Guide to Siena, p. 224
Brandi, Cesare, Giovanni di Paolo, fig. 15 pp. 10
van Marle, Raymond, The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting, fig. 251 pp. 334, 390, 394-395
Pope-Hennessy, John, DU, p. 36
Jacobsen, Emil, Das Quattrocento in Siena, pl. XIII, fig. I p. 42
Brandi, Cesare, Quattrocentisti Senesi, pl. 124 pp. 258, 286
Berenson, Bernhard, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance, p. 246
The Dictionary of Art, pp. 714-716
Berenson, Bernhard, The Central Italian Painters of the Renaissance, pp. 180, 320
Carli, Enzo, La Pittura Senese, p. 222
Monsignore E. Bossio, Visita Pastorale, p. 680
Edgell, George Harold, A History of Sienese Painting, fig. 300 pp. 215, 217
Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, p. 14
Crowe, J.; and G. Cavalcaselle, A History of Painting in Italy, p. 178
Salmi, M., Il Palazzo e la Colleczione Chigi-Saracini, pp. 40, 45, 50
Sigismondo, T., Historiarum Senesium, p. 9 ; p. 207
Berenson, Bernhard, Pitture Italiane del Rinascimento, p. 211
Boskovitis, Miklos, Brown, David Alan, et al., Italian Paintings of the Fifteenth Century, p. 331
Weigelt, C., Thieme Becker: Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Künstlern, p. 134
Berenson, Bernard, Italian Painters of the Renaissance: The Central Italian and North Italian Schools, pp. 175, 463
Ugurgieri Azzolini, I., Le Pompe Sanesi, p. 346
Pope-Hennessy, John, Giovanni di Paolo, pl. 1B pp.9, 10, 46
Mazza, Miriam Fileti and Giovanna Gaeta Bertela, Collezione Chigi Saracini nel Palazzo di Siena, Inventario Generale, pp. 26, 87
Delado, p. 201-202
Pope-Hennessy, John, Art at Auction: The Year at Sotheby Parke Bernet 1977-78, pp. 18-21
Romagnoli, E., Bellartisti Senesi, p. 4; pp. 314, 328-329
Carli, E., Capolavori dell'Arte Senese, p. 66
Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, cat. 1531 p. 417
Götz, O.; and G. Swarzenski and A. Wolters, Austellung von Meisterwerken alter Malerei aus Prvatbesitz, no. 80, pl. XIII
No Title,
Listen
Audio Tour
English | Español
Read
Audio Tour Transcript
English | Español
Escuchar
Audioguía
English | Español
Leer
Transcripción de Audioguía
English | Español

Additional Artwork by Artist

Baptism of Christ Giovanni di Paolo early 1450s

Image reproduction permission may be granted for scholarly or arts related commercial use. All image requests, regardless of their intended purpose, should be submitted via the reproduction request form.

Images may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. Additional permission may be required.

Approved requests for the reproduction of an image will receive a contract detailing all fees and conditions of use of the image. Upon receipt of both the signed contract and full payment, the Office of Rights and Reproductions will provide the image. A complimentary copy of the published material must be provided to the Norton Simon Museum.

Reproduction Request Form