Florence active 1312–1348
Bernardo Daddi is generally regarded as one of Giotto’s (1266–1337) most important and influential pupils. It was probably through his connection to Giotto that Daddi was commissioned to paint the frescoes showing the Martyrdom of Saints Lawrence and Stephen for the Pulci Beraldi Chapel in the prestigious Franciscan church of Santa Croce. These are Daddi’s only known frescoes. His great contribution to Florentine gothic painting, however, was the popularization of the decorative portable triptych. This was a format which he and his workshop produced in large quantities and which became a staple of Florentine, indeed Italian painting, from the early 1330s onwards. Perhaps the prime example of this is the triptych in the Museo di Bigallo, Florence and depicts a Madonna enthroned with Saints in the center, a Nativity on the left wing and a Crucifixion on the right. Other artists who adopted the small format include his contemporaries Taddeo Gaddi (1290–1366) (on occasion), Lippo di Benivieni (active 1296–1327) and Pacino di Buonaguido (1280–1340). Such works which Offner characterized as showing a ‘miniaturist tendency’ display Daddi’s capacity to produce lyrical, precious images whose flowing line and brilliant coloring owe as much to Daddi’s Sienese contemporary Pietro Lorenzetti (1280–1348) as to his presumed master Giotto.
Daddi was admitted to the guild of painters in Florence in the early 1320s. From this decade come a group of paintings whose weighty scale and three-dimensional forms, achieved through pronounced chiaroscuro modelling, show his debt to Giotto. The greatest of these early works are the Santa Croce frescoes and the Virgin and Child with Saints Nicholas and Matthew of 1328 now in the Uffizi, Florence. In the early 1330s Daddi experimented with the altarpiece format, introducing figures which inhabit a space which goes beyond the compartments imposed by the traditional polyptych structure. But for much of the 1330s the best known works by Daddi and his workshop were relatively small-scale triptychs such as the painting in the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge (1334), the Getty Museum, Los Angeles (1335), the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh (1338) and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis (1339). In paintings such as the Getty Madonna and Child with Saints Thomas Aquinas and Paul we still see the influence of Giotto in the massive figure of the Madonna but also elements learned from the Sienese artists Pietro and Ambrogio Lorinzetti (1290–1348), such as the sweet expression of the Madonna and his emphasis on the decorative qualities of the draperies. Daddi’s last known work a polyptych of the Crucifixion with Saints was painted in 1348, year of the Black Death. Its design anticipates the work of Andrea di Cione (Orcagna) (1308–1368) and Jacopo di Cione (1325–1390).
Top Auction Results for Bernardo Daddi
The Madonna and Child enthroned with saints
Sold for $3,861,000
New York, Christie’s, 14 April 2016, Old Masters: Part I, lot 125
The Coronation of the Virgin
Sold for £1,573,600 ($2,919,480)
London, Sotheby’s, 7 July 2004, Old Master Paintings (Part One), lot 38
St. John the Evangelist and St. Francis; pair
Sold for £601,250 ($966,795)
London, Sotheby’s, 8 July 2009, Old Master Paintings Evening Sale, lot 23