Bernardino di Antonio di Ser Antonio del Signoraccio, as know as Bernardino del Signoraccio 
(Pistoia, 1460 ca. – 1540)

Madonna dell’Umiltà
Tempera grassa on panel, cm 60 x 40

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Florence, art market end of XIX century
Private Collection

This panel, depicting the Madonna of Humility, is of particular charm also for its typology certainly from Pistoia. It is a confraternity banner, with the typical handle for dual use, processional and as an image of devotion.
Here is re-proposed the famous and highly venerated fourteenth-century image of the Madonna of Humility, around which the homonymous sanctuary was built in Pistoia. The Virgin uncovers a breast to breastfeed the Child, to which she reaches out with a naturalistic gesture, to underline the deep bond between the two. The Madonna of Humilityis depicted sitting on a cushion that rests directly on the ground, unlike the Majesty who depicts her enthroned. These iconographic choices were linked to the role of the Church, symbolized by the Virgin, whom the mendicant orders wanted humble and at the service of the faithful.
As indicated by Andrea De Marchi, the author of the panel is easily recognizable in Bernardino del Signoraccio, widely active in Pistoia between the 15th and 16th centuries, interpreting the proto-classicism in the Tuscan city and filtering Filippinesque influences in a style of painting that is always clear and softened with notable freshness. A document dated 1483, which indicates the age of 23 of Bernardino di Antonio di Ser Antonio del Signoraccio, suggests that he was born in Pistoia around 1460. From his marriage with Antonia di Paolo Maconi in 1481 he had six children, two of whom painters: Paolo, known as Fra’ Paolino and Leonardo. He probably trained between Pistoia and Florence where he was perhaps a pupil of Verrocchio in the ‘80s of the XV century. Between 1486 and 1488 some of his small works are documented for the Cathedral of Pistoia and in the chapel of San Jacopo in 1492. His name appears in 1488 among the members of the Art of Painters, recently founded in Pistoia.
The almost Pinturicchiesque gilding on the marble fence of the background or in the rasa surrounding the dove of the Holy Spirit at the top, is combined with the fifteenth-century brightness of the pink marbles and with the vast sky against which Peruginesque trees line up.
The almost rigid and pointed movement of the folds, in the yellow cloth that wraps the Child, is typical of Bernardino del Signoraccio. In general, this painting can be compared with the altarpiece dated 1491 made for the Pieve di San Giovanni Battista in Saturnana (now at the Diocesan Museum of Pistoia), and with two other versions of the famous fresco, in the 1493 altarpiece now in the same Basilica of the Humility, from the Monastery of San Mercuriale and with the panel from the Campana collection and now preserved in the Musée du Petit Palais in Avignon.
Interesting are the writings that decorate the original framing of the table. In addition to the inscription SANTA MARIA DEVMILITA, present at the bottom of the step, the incipit of the Regina Caeli prayer can be read at the base of the frame: REGIN [A] CELI LETTARE ALLELVIA QVIA QVE [M]. On the upper part there is another inscription GLORIOSA DNA EXCELSA SVP SIDERA QVITE CREAVIT PROVIDA LATTASTI SACRO VBERE, that is the initial part of the Marian hymn O gloriosa Domina, traditionally attributed to Saint Venanzio Fortunato (530-609), bishop of Poitiers, who, in addition to be used in the Common Lauds to the Virgin, it is remembered to be the favourite hymn of St. Anthony of Padua who would have recited it even on the verge of death. This could suggest the origin of the table from a Pistoian company connected to the saint.

Price range:
over 50.000 €