Pellegrino da San Daniele | 7th Tiberius Auction
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Pellegrino da San Daniele

7th Tiberius Auction

Pellegrino da San Daniele

After Sale Price:  18.960

  • BTC: 1,16148960 ฿
  • USD: 20.041 $
  • GBP: 16.359 £
  • CNY: 141.707 ¥

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Pellegrino da San Daniele
San Daniele del Friuli 1467 – 1547 Udine
“Madonna”
Around 1485
Oil and tempera on softwood
78,5 x 53,5 cm

This expressive, masterly painting of Mary and Child with angels was made by Pellegrino da San Daniele, as the cartellino (Italian for “little plaque”) at the bottom of the picture attests. He studied in Udine with Antonio da Firenze and in the workshop of Domenico Da Tolmezzo. The painter received several commissions from noble families in Friuli and stayed at the court of Ercole I d’Este (1431-1505) in Ferrara around 1500. He later produced works for the cathedral of Udine and is particularly known for the large fresco cycle in the church of Sant’ Antonio Abate.

This painting can be considered a noteworthy early work by the technically extremely skilled painter, who at the beginning of his career took great interest in the great Venetian painters of the time. This painting is particularly comparable to a depiction of the Madonna by the Venetian painter Antonio Rosso (Tai di Pieve di Cadore c. 1440 – 1509/10 Belluno) – possibly one of Pellegrino da San Daniele’s teachers. The latter was active in the second half of the 15th century and around 1460-1465 produced a work related in expression, which is titled “Madonna in trono col Bambino e angeli”, which is now in the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice (Catalogo 644).

The depiction of the Madonna in the popular Byzantine type of Eleusa (Greek for “the merciful”) emphasises the loving devotion of Mary and the infant Jesus. This emphasises the relationship between mother and child and shows the humanity of Jesus in his tender affection for the Virgin Mary. This is expressed in the soft touch of their cheeks as well as their hands; the child playfully reaches for Mary’s pleated veil, whereby the mother parallels this by holding the cloak and brings her left hand closer to that of her child with a gentle gesture. With her right hand she presses Jesus against her side, framed by a bowl fold of the cloak. Although their eyes do not meet, the intimacy of the two is clearly shown. While Jesus looks upwards with a rapt gaze, Mary looks down obliquely at the viewers, as whose intercessor she is serving without losing contact with her child.

The iconic, rapturous depiction is enlivened by the ornamental gold ground with punctuated nimbs and vegetal drapery motifs, as well as by the angels that populate the rest of the picture plane. This addition of angels is also typical of the painter’s later work. The two angelic figures on the upper spandrels function as curtain bearers and thus present the central scene to the viewer. The two angels perkily seated at the table in the foreground play lute instruments and refer both to the mother-child depiction and to the viewer. Here the painter’s compositional playfulness is revealed, alternating in diagonal axes between the angels with red wings in a green dress and angels with green wings in a red dress. Through this compositional ploy, the two axes meet in the centre of the picture surface, namely in the contact of Mary’s hand with that of the child. Another interesting feature are the two much smaller putti in back view, who seem to be turning the pages of a book lying on a pedestal with a sculptural angel’s head. It is very likely that this is the Bible, the Holy Scripture of Christianity.

Overall, the depiction reflects a religious exaltation as a devotional picture, suggesting a certain distance from the viewer. However, a dynamic moment of immediacy is equally shown through the inclusion of several senses: not only the sense of sight, but also the sense of hearing through the angels playing music and the rustling book pages is included; furthermore, the sense of touch is stimulated by the luxurious textile, the delicate touches of cheeks and hands, and the parchment of the book page that has just been turned.

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