This panel was originally the central unit of a triptych, the wings of which are now missing. The Virgin Mary holding the Christ Child sits in the center on a high-backed throne. To the left stand Saint Peter, grasping two keys, and Saint Dominic, who wears a Dominican habit and holds a lily. To the right stand Saint James the Great, holding a staff from which hangs a small red purse, and Saint Paul, holding a knife. Behind each group of saints are two angels, and in the gable is a roundel with the bust of Christ making a blessing gesture. At the bottom of the Gothic-style gilt frame—carved from the same board as the painted panel—are traces of a now mostly illegible inscription that dates the painting: ANNIS MILLENIS TER[CENT]UM TRIGINTA SETTENIS.
The Dumbarton Oaks painting is typical of the numerous, small, portable altarpieces that Bernardo Daddi produced in his busy Florentine workshop. Many of these paintings show the hands of assistants, but all were executed to Daddi’s designs and under his supervision. Consequently, similar designs and figures with only minor alterations are found repeatedly in Daddi’s altarpieces. The Dumbarton Oaks panel particularly resembles a triptych in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (34.20), which is similarly dated on the base to 1339.
Bernardo Daddi was possibly the student of Giotto, and he became the preeminent Florentine painter after Giotto’s death. However, his personal style often favored the more decorative qualities of Sienese painting, itself based on Byzantine prototypes, and his figures have a grace and lyricism that temper the gravity of Giotto’s style.
Venturi, Adolfo. "La Quadreria Sterbini in Roma." L'Arte, 8 (1905), 423, fig. 1.
Venturi, Adolfo. La Galleria Sterbini in Roma. Rome: 1906, fig. 3.
Venturi, Adolfo. Storia dell'Arte Italiana V: La Pittura Trecento e le sue 0rigini. Milan: 1907, fig. 420.
Khvoshinsky, Basile and Mario Salmi. I Pittori Toscani dal XIII al XVI Secolo 2: I Fiorentini del Trecento. Rome: 1914, 23.
Sirén, Osvald. Giotto and Some of his Followers 2. Cambridge, MA: 1917), pl. 139.
Van Marle, Raimond. The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting 3. The Hague: 1924, 382.
Offner, Richard. A Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting III: The Fourteenth Century. Section 3, vol. 3, New York: 1930, 13, 91; Section 3, vol. 4, New York: 1934, ix, 16, pl. 7.
Masterpieces of Art - Exhibition at the New York World's Fair 1939 Official Souvenir Guide and Picture Book (forward by W. R. Valentiner), pl. 5 [not placed on exhibition].
Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance 1. London: 1963, 58.
Fredericksen, Burton B. and Frederico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA: 1972), 63, 644.
Offner, Richard with Klara Steinweg, continued under the direction of Miklós Boskovits and Mina Gregori. A Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting. Section 3, vol. 3.
Giunti Publisher, Florence: 1986, 49, nn. 68-69; Section 3, vol. 4, Giunti Publisher, Florence: 1986, 78-81, pls. VII and VII(2).
Bühl, Gudrun, editor. Dumbarton Oaks, The Collections. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (distributed by Harvard University Press), 2008, 298f, ill.
Giulio Sterbini (d. 1911) Collection, Rome, after 1874.
Tommaso Lupi Collection, Rome.
Purchased from Adolfo Loewi, Inc., New York, NY (dealer), by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, Washington, DC, ca. 6/15/1936.
Collection of Mildred Barnes and Robert Woods Bliss, Washington, D.C., 6/15/1936-11/29/1940.
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, House Collection, Washington, D.C.