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Florence active 1359–1374

Matteo di Pacino was a successful artist in the third quarter of the fourteenth century in Florence. He was part of the movement who, in reaction to the ravages of the Black Death in 1348, turned to a sober, stylized and spiritual mode of artistic expression quite different from the directness and naturalism introduced by Giotto (1266–1337). Matteo’s career has only relatively recently been pieced together, largely as the result of connecting his one signed work a polyptych depicting the Coronation of the Virgin, formerly in the Stroganoff collection, with a cycle of frescoes, attributed by Giorgio Vasari to Taddeo Gaddi (1290–1366), painted for the Rinuccini Chapel in the Franciscan church of Santa Croce in Florence.

Matteo is first recorded in 1359 when he was admitted into the Florentine painter’s guild, however he must have been active before then and the signed and dated 1361 altarpiece shows the refinement of a mature painter. His early work was influenced by Bernardo Daddi (ca. 1280–1348), whose emphasis on decorative elaboration is evident in the ex-Stroganoff polyptych. However, by the 1360s, he evolved to embrace the style of the dominant workshop in Florence that of Andrea and Jacopo di Cione (1325–1390), which combined a fondness for graceful line, ornate punch-work in the gold and high color and heavily contoured figures and facial features. Matteo di Pacino also worked as a miniaturist, alongside Francesco di Ser Francesco Cenni (Florence active ca.1369–1415), on choir books for Santa Croce. His fame peaked after about 1365 when he was entrusted with the completion of the frescoes for the Rinuccini Chapel whose upper tiers had been painted by the celebrated Lombard artist Giovanni da Milano (1325–1370). Matteo was Influenced by da Milano, who also worked alongside him for the Cistercian monks at Badia a Settimo; as a result, Matteo introduced Lombard naturalistic details such as wrinkles in the forehead, folds at the root of the nose and botanical still-lifes into his art. Matteo di Pacino’s career was cut off, probably by another outbreak of the plague, in 1374.

Top Auction Results for Matteo di Pacino

The Madonna and Child with God the Father above
Sold for £175,000 ($234,993)
London, Christie’s, 7 December 2017, Old Masters Evening Sale, lot 16

Saint Ivo with a kneeling supplicant
Sold for $180,000
New York, Sotheby’s, 25 January 2007, Important Old Masters, lot 37

Christ as Man of Sorrows (Vir Dolorum) with Instruments of the Passion
Sold for $62,500
New York, Sotheby’s, 2019 May 22, Master Paintings, lot 12

 

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