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Title Virgin and Child with Angels and Saints
Collection Astley Cheetham Art Gallery, Stalybridge
Artist Master of the Straus Madonna (Italian painter, active late 14th-early 15th centuries)
Date Earliest possibly about 1390
Date Latest possibly about 1395
Description The Virgin and suckling Christ child are enthroned in the centre of the panel. To the left is an angel, St James the Great (patron of Pistoia) and behind him St John the Baptist (patron of Florence). To the right is another angel, St Julian the Hospitaller and St Dorothy, identified by the roses she both holds and wears in her hair. Eve lies at the feet of the Virgin holding a branch from the tree of knowledge with an apple (or branch of a fig tree). The inclusion of Eve refers to the Fall and Original Sin from which Christ through his Virgin mother redeemed humankind.
Current Accession Number ASTAC:1932.43
Former Accession Number 1/14/1
Subject religion (Virgin and Child, Eve, angels, saints)
Measurements 70.0 x 47.5 cm cm (estimate)
Material tempera on panel
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by J. F. Cheetham 1932.
Principal Exhibitions Christian Arts Festival, Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, 1955; Primitives to Picasso, The Royal Academy, London, 1962; The Art of Painting in Florence and Siena, Wildenstein, London, 1965; Medieval and Early Renaissance Treasures of the North West, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, 1976; Presents from the Past, Bolton Art Gallery (touring), 1978; Early Italian Paintings and Works of Art, Matthiesen Fine Art Ltd., London, 1983; Seeing is Deceiving, Whitworth Art Gallery Manchester, 1981.
Publications Smith, M. Q., Burlington Magazine, Feb 1962, vol. 104, No. 707; Williamson, B., 'The Virgin Lactans as Second Eve: Image of the Salvatrix', Studies in Iconography1998, ill. p. 123.
Notes Research notes by Christopher Baker, 1989, held by Astley Cheetham Art Gallery: 'The Master of the Straus Madonna was a name given to an anonymous latter 14th century artist by Richard Offner. He invented the pseudonym after having considered a panel depicting a Madonna, which was at one time in the Percy S. Straus collection in New York, and then in 1933 on stylistic grounds he grouped 23 works around this undocumented figure. At a later date Offner also attributed the Staylebridge work to this artist. Boskovits dates this work to c.1390-1395. This appears reasonable, particularly if the artist is to be seen as a stylistic precursor of Masolino who started working at the beginning of the 15th century'. This work is also discussed by Michael Quinton Smith in the Burlington Magazine, February 1962, Vol 104, No.707. He points out that the reclining Eve is indeed an unusual figure in a painting of this date, particularly without her usual attributes of the apple tree and the serpent. But he notes that a precedent does exist in 'a damaged and partly repainted fresco in the Abbey of Montesiepi near Siena, where Ambrogio Lorenzetti also depicted Eve lying at the foot of the Virgin. Eve is shown without a halo (as in the Stalybridge panel) wears a shift and holds in her left hand a small branch with leaves and fruit. Christ at the breast of the Virgin is thus the second apple in the hands of the second Eve; the sin of the first Eve is redeemed by the fruit of the second.' There is a damaged Milanese wax customs seal on the back of the panel.
Rights Owner Astley Cheetham Art Gallery
Author Lisa Howard



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