Florence and Siena: The Centres of a Figurative Patrimony
Administratively divided between the provinces of Florence and Siena, Valdelsa is a borderland. The town of Certaldo is set at the end of the Florentine Valdelsa almost equidistant from the two cities, which are among the most culturally active in Tuscany, which have performed a leading role in the field of the figurative arts at certain periods. Thus, Florence and Siena are the centres of a figurative patrimony that we recognize in many of the works present in the Certaldo Museum.
If the two 13th century Madonnas have been carried out by Florentine masters, the Master of the Bigallo and Meliore, early evidence of Sienese painting was already visible in the 14th century. Thus the Bagnano Triptych, assigned to Ugolino di Nerio, documented in Florence where he worked in the Churches of Santa Maria Novella and of Santa Croce, and possibly Duccio’s most refined disciple, seems to have drawn on Giotto’s Madonna in the Badia Polyptych for the Madonna on the central panel.
Located in the Church of Santi Jacopo e Filippo, the beautiful fresco depicting the Madonna and Child between Saints Jacopo and Peter with the female purchaser has been assigned to Memmo di Filippuccio, the father of the more famous Lippo Memmi and Simone Martini’s father-in-law, on whose language also the old municipal painter of San Gimignano drew in a late phase of his work.
If the Florentine works are still rather more frequent from the second half of the 14th century to the end of the 16th century, from Puccio di Simone to Lippo d’Andrea to Cenni di Francesco and Benozzo Gozzoli up to a painter from Bernardino Poccetti’s circle, the 17th century again offers Sienese exemplars, like the large painting on the Company’s altar depicting the Madonna and Child with Augustinian Saints, probably by Gabriele Grassi, a follower of Alessandro Casolani a painter for whom recently critics have been reconstructing a biography.
Two rare and large carved sculptures are housed in the same room, depicting the Augustinian saints Saint Nicholas of Tolentino and Saint John of San Facondo, which have stylistic similarities to 17th century Sienese sculptures as seen in the subtle folds of their clothing, which compare well with works by the sculptor, still not much studied, Tommaso Redi, the artist of the busts of the blessed souls of Siena on the façade and of the angel on the cusp of the Siena cathedral.
Rosanna Caterina Proto Pisani
in, Museo d’arte sacra di Certaldo. Guida alla visita del museo e alla scoperta del territorio, a cura di Rosanna Caterina Proto Pisani, Polistampa 2006