Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints
Also known as the Guelfi Altarpiece
Giovanni di Paolo
Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia, born in Siena (1403–1482), was among the most significant painters of the 15th century Sienese school. An exhibit of his work, Giovanni di Paolo: Paintings was staged at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1973.
Unlike the Florentine painters who preferred fresco, the Sienese painters like Di Paolo worked in tempera and on a smaller scale, incorporating traditional materials like ground gold. Particular to Di Paolo, however, was the influence on his work of the Gothic painter Gentile de Fabriano and gothic elements are apparent in Di Paolo’s Madonna and Child, particularly in its shape.
At a later point in his career, Di Paolo became well-known for providing illustrations for both of Dante’s works, Inferno and Paradise. For the latter, Di Paolo provided 61 paintings that evidence a greater depth of treatment and a richness of color that far exceeded what previous illustrators had afforded Dante’s texts.
Di Paolo’s Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints was created in 1445 for the Guelfi Chapel in the Church of San Domenico in Siena, also known as Basilica Cateriniana . The altarpiece had a predella, or platform, and two panels from that platform can be seen at the Met. One depicts the story of creation, while the other depicts the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise. Click here to see photos of these panels.
The work of art needs a restoration intervention especially to the pictorial surface, considerably obscured by a thick layer of dirt.