Samuel H. Kress Collections Research

Lorenzo di Bicci

Lorenzo di Bicci's Crucifixion

Lorenzo di Bicci
Crucifixion, detail, c. 1400,
Allentown, 43 cm x 1 ¼ cm.


The technical examination of a gold ground Crucifixion from the workshop of Lorenzo di Bicci brings into focus several aspects and problems surrounding the study of workshop practice in Florence during the late trecento and early quattrocento. The examination of the panel before and after the removal of discolored varnish and overpaint revealed several interesting features. The cross, which had been repainted brown, was originally bright blue, prompting further research into the history, origin, and examples of blue crosses during this period. The painting technique of the angels is different from the Christ figure, allowing insight to the division of labor within the workshop, and along with the inscription, possibly implies the employment of manuscript illuminator. The deciphering and reconstruction of the nearly illegible inscription reveals the absence of two words, which, in conjunction with the configuration of the joins, allows us to hypothesize about the original size, shape, and function of the tondo. This study also deals with the construction and original appearance of this Crucifixion, in the context of the creation and subsequent dismemberment of complex altarpieces, and the making and meaning of religious panel paintings in Florence during this period.

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