Taddeo di Bartolo was among the most important Sienese masters of the late trecento and early quattrocento. His early work reveals the influence of the great artists of the preceding generation, notably Simone Martini and Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Over the course of his career, Taddeo traveled extensively and was exposed to artistic influences in Padua, Genoa, Perugia, and Pisa. By 1399 he had resettled in Siena and, as evidenced by numerous recorded commissions in and around that city, presided over a large workshop. By the time of his death in 1422, Taddeo had been the leading painter in Siena for two decades.
The Resurrection reveals both Taddeo's refined, subtle palette and charming sense for narrative detail. Exhausted from their vigil, the four soldiers guarding Christ's tomb slump on the ground, one propping his head on his hand while another rests his head on his forearm, using his shield as a pillow. Unnoticed amidst them, Christ strides forward forcefully, his mauve tunic and banner stirred by a sudden gust of wind and highlighted by the golden rays of dawn. In his left hand he grasps an olive branch, his intense gaze sharply contrasting with the peaceful expressions of the slumbering guards.
This panel was first identified as a work by Taddeo di Bartolo in 1928, when sold from the Cavaliere Ludovico Spiridon Collection in Rome. It was purchased by the Dutch dealer Jacques Goudstikker, for whom Van Marle confirmed the attribution, describing the picture as a production of the early years of his activity, that is to say his best period (private communication, 14 October 1928). The attribution to Taddeo di Bartolo has been accepted by all subsequent writers.
Several scholars have attempted to identify the original altarpiece from which the present panel, surely once part of a predella, derives. It has been associated with a Way to Calvary formerly with Captain Robert Langton Douglas, London, and a Crucifixion in the Art Institute of Chicago (inv. 1933.1033), also once owned by Captain Douglas. The three panels are comparable in height, stylistic character, and punchwork, and could well have once been part of the same complex, possibly the now-lost altarpiece executed by Taddeo between 1401 and 1404 for the chapel in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena. Although this remains hypothetical, the lavish use of gold, plethora of fine detail, and splendid palette seen in all three panels would suggest an important commission.
The first owner of the present work, Cardinal Joseph Fesch, was the half-brother of Napoleon's mother, Letizia Bonaparte. He was a voracious collector, his posthumous inventory recording some 16,000 items. Fesch accumulated an especially impressive group of early Italian paintings, most of which he purchased after settling in Rome in 1815. Part of his collection now comprises the Musée Fesch, Ajaccio.
Amsterdam, Catalogue des Nouvelles Acquisitions de la Collection Goudstikker, October-November 1928, no. 3, illustrated.
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Italienische Kunst im Nederlandsch Besitz, 1 July-1 October 1934, no. 354.
R. van Marle, The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting, The Hague, V, 1925, p. 463, as by Taddeo di Bartolo.
F.M. Perkins, in Thieme-Becker, Leipzig, 1938, XXXII, p. 365.
S. Symoniades, Taddeo di Bartolo, Siena, 1965, p. 223, pls. 53-54.
B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance, North Italian and Central Italian Schools, London, 1968, p. 419.
C. Lloyd, Italian Paintings before 1600 in The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 1993, pp. 233-234, fig. 1, note 11.
Cardinal Joseph Fesch (1763-1839), Palazzo Falconieri, Rome, inventory of 1841, no. 1577; (+), sale, George, Rome, 17-18 March 1845, lot 1113.
The Conti Galotti di Alessio, Pavia.
Cavaliere Ludovico Spiridon, Rome; sale, Muller and Mensing, Amsterdam, 19 June 1928, lot 11, as 'Taddeo di Bartolo' where purchased by the following.
with Jacques Goudstikker, inv. no. 2091.
Looted by the Nazi authorities, July 1940.
Anonymous sale; Hans W. Lange, Berlin, 3-4 December 1940, lot 1.
The present work is being offered for sale pursuant to a settlement agreement between the consignor and the heir of Jacques Goudstikker. This settlement agreement resolves any dispute over ownership of the work and title will pass to the buyer.