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The Triumphal Return of Taddeo Gaddi’s Maestà Conserved

March 27, 2015 - October 04, 2015

After a two-year absence for conservation at the J. Paul Getty Museum, the New-York Historical Society's Virgin and Child Enthroned with Ten Saints: Maestà returns. Painted ca. 1334 by Taddeo Gaddi, the major disciple of Giotto, the jewel-like panel will take pride of place in a small focus exhibition highlighting its conservation treatment. Thomas Jefferson Bryan, an early connoisseur of Italian “primitives,” i.e., painters before Raphael, bequeathed the Gaddi panel to New-York Historical in 1867, along with his entire collection. As New York City's first museum, New-York Historical wrote an early chapter in preserving the culture of the City, and Bryan played a pioneering role in its collecting history, amassing works by both European and American artists. Fittingly, Gaddi's painting will be displayed with a several other fourteenth- and early-fifteenth-century Italian panels from the Bryan Collection.

Taddeo Gaddi, Virgin and Child Enthroned with Ten Saints: Maestà, ca. 1330–1334. Gilded gesso and tempera on panel. New-York Historical Society, Gift of Thomas Jefferson Bryan, 1867.375. Photo courtesy the J. Paul Getty Museum

With its lavish gold leaf background, Gaddi’s panel was an expensive commission for a private Florentine palazzo and for its time was cutting-edge art. Originally the central section of a folding triptych consisting of three panels, it will be exhibited with two wings (sportelli) from a private collection that recently have been linked to it. Their similar dates, measurements, traces of hinges, and related iconographies suggest that the trio may once have been part of the same triptych. At the very least, seen together they help us to envision and reconstruct how the Maestà appeared in its original glory. It was recently shown at both the Getty and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, in the major exhibition Florence at the Dawn of the Renaissance: Painting and Illumination, 1300-1350.

Creative: Tronvig Group