Vir Dolorum and symbols of the passion
Matteo di Pacino (Active in Florence, died in 1374)

Vir Dolorum and symbols of the passion

Tempera and gold on panel, H. 0.16 m; W. 0.2 m

Provenance: Private collection, Italy

The painting is probably the central part of a predella as suggested by the horizontal grains of the wood and by the subject. Similar predellas with figures inside a tondo are also represented in the Madonna with the Christ Child and Saints by Giotto (Bologna, Pinacoteca Nazionale (1) ) and in the Crucifixion by Jacopo di Cione (London, National Gallery(2)). Another fragment of the predella can be identified in the Saint James sold at the Finarte auction held in Milan in 1967(3) , probably originally set on the right of the central panel. It has the same size and shape, as well as the same decoration of the band and with the same punch marks along the internal edges of the tondo. Probably the Mourning Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist was also represented in the predella as in another painting by Matteo Pacino, now in the Pinacoteca Vaticana’s deposits(4).

The influence of Nardo di Cione in the strong physiognomic characterization and in the more plastic modelling of the flesh suggests an execution around the mid 1360’s: the chiaroscuro is no more schematic and the shadows are no longer concentrated only around the figures as in the Stroganoff Polyptych dated 1361 (Rome, Ordine di San Giovanni di Gerusalemme(5)), but the anatomy of the body of Christ is underlined with strong highlights; the hair haven’t a graphic definition like in the previous works but they softly fall along the shoulders.

We would like to thank Mr Miklos Boskovits for confirming attribution and Mr Alberto Lenza for writing the notice.

(1)G. PREVITALI, Giotto e la sua bottega, Milano, 1967, fig. 506.
(2) R. OFFNER ; K. STEINWEG, A Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting, The Fourteenth Century. Sec. IV, Vol. III, Jacopo di Cione, Glückstadt, 1965, pl. IV.
(3) Finarte 1967, p. 60 n° 242.
(4) W. F. VOLBACH, Catalogo della Pinacoteca Vaticana, II, Il Trecento a Firenze e Siena, Città del Vaticano, 1987, fig. 80.
(5)A. LENZA, « Alcune novità su Matteo di Pacino », Arte Cristiana, n° 826, gennaio-febbraio 2005, p. 28 fig. 1.