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Hebrew ProphetsHebrew ProphetsGiovanni del BiondoEarly Italianc. 1370Approx. 15.75 x 8.5 inchesTempera and Gold on PanelMuseo de Arte de PoncePuerto Ricohttp://www.museoarteponce.org/<p>Giovanni del Biondo’s precise date of birth is unknown; however, tax records dating to 1356 indicate that the artist was working as a master painter in Florence where he spent the majority of his career. Numerous paintings have been attributed to Biondo, but there are only two surviving altarpieces that bear his signature. His earliest surviving works are frescoes, compositions that are clearly influenced by Giotto di Bondone's style. Biondo then began to create tempera paintings on panel, many of which show strong connections to works Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Andrea di Cione, Jacopo di Cione, and Bernardo Daddi. Nearly all of Biondo’s paintings depict religious subjects and were originally part of large-scale polyptych altarpieces. He is known for his precise and careful working method and executing his paintings almost entirely with his own hand (as opposed to the traditional practice of heavily on workshop apprentices).</p><p>Giovanni del Biondo’s early paintings are characterized by bright colors and simple compositions and are mostly without dimensional depth. Throughout the course of his career, Biondo's figures exhibit more ornamentation and detail, appearing naturalistic with more spontaneity in their arrangements.. In his later paintings, Biondo pays more attention to foreground and background details in his composition, giving a greater sense of depth to the compositions but imparting a more formalized and hardened approach in depicting his figures. </p><p>The <em>Hebrew Prophet</em> was completed circa 1370 and was originally part of <em>The Coronation of the Virgin</em> high altarpiece in the Oratorio di San Lorenzo at San Giovanni Valdarno in Arezzo, Tuscany. The central panel of the polyptych depicts <em>Christ Crowning the Virgin</em>, surrounded by cherubs and seraphim; the left wing shows <em>Saint John the Baptist</em>, patron saint of San Giovanni Valdarno, in a frontal pose, and other religious figures kneeling in diagonal rows facing towards the central panel. These other religious figures include Saints John the Evangelist, Paul, Peter, Abraham with his son Isaac, Noah, David, Saint James Major Jerome, Augustine, Anthony Abbot, Mary Magdalen, and Catherine. The main panel of the right wing shows Saint Lawrence, the patron saint of the Oratorio di San Lorenzo, in a frontal pose, and other religious figures kneeling in diagonal rows facing towards the central panel. These other religious figures likely include Saints Stephen, Bartholomew, Sebastian, Benedict, Andrew, Ambrose, Francis, Dominic, Margaret and Lucy. The central pinnacle, above the central panel, shows <em>Christ on the Cross</em>, the Virgin, Saint John, and two angels. Each wing has two pinnacles; the inner pinnacles feature the Annunciation (the Virgin Annunciate on the right and the Angel Annunciate on the left) and the outer pinnacles feature Hebrew prophets. The outer pinnacle on the right wing is the <em>Hebrew Prophet </em>above.</p><p>According to archives at San Giovanni Valdarno, there are eighteenth-century records suggesting that the polyptych was still intact above the altar but by the first half of the nineteenth century, the polyptych was deconstructed and the individual panels were instead hung along the church walls. In 1861, the panels were then moved to the sacristy of the Oratorio di Santa Maria delle Grazie at San Giovanni Valdarno where a small museum was eventually created in 1864. After the panels were reassembled and restored around 1882, the polyptych was returned to its original location in the Oratorio in 1920. Some seven years later, the four pinnacles above the wings were stolen and copies were made as substitutions. During World War II the polyptych was brought to Florence and in 1950 was exhibited in Arezzo. By 1959 the polyptych was transferred to the new Museo della Basilica at San Giovanni Valdarno and later moved to the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie at San Giovanni Valdarno, where it hangs today (although the non-original pinnacles above the wings have since been removed).</p><p>The original Annunciation panels (the inner pinnacles above the wings) were sold by auction in New York as part of the collection of Conte Taddeo Pepoli from Bologna in 1929 and were bought by the Detroit Institute of Arts in Michigan. The original Hebrew prophet panels (the outer pinnacles above the wings) were in the possession of Conte Contini Bonacossi in Rome in 1927 and entered the Samuel H. Kress Collection about two years later. Both panels were transferred to the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico in 1962 where they currently reside..</p><p>The two <em>Hebrew Prophet </em>panels were cleaned in 1961 before they were transferred from the Kress Collection in New York to the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico. Both panels are in good condition, with minor losses in the paint layer and gilded backgrounds. </p><p>​<a href="http://www.artsbma.org/reconstructing-a-14th-century-painting/">Re-constructing a 14th-century Painting</a></p><p>Former Kress Tempera Participant Kristi McMillan presents the Birmingham Museum of Art with a close up view of her experience creating a copy of Giovanni del Biondo's "Hebrew Saint."</p><p><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/artists/-giovanni-del-biondo/paintings/slideshow#/0">Giovanni del Biondo's Paintings (by the BBC)</a></p><p><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/artists/-giovanni-del-biondo/paintings/slideshow#/0"></a>A slideshow of Giovanni del Biondo's paintings organized by the BBC.</p><p>​Offner, Richard, Klara Steinweg, and Hayden B. J. Maginnis. <em>A Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting</em>, Sec. 4 V. 5. Institute of Fine Arts, New York University: New York, 1981.</p>A step-by-step description of Giovanni del Biondo’s working method based on a technical study of two panels (now located at the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico) that were originally part of a larger altarpiece constructed for the Oratorio di San Lorenzo in San Giovanni Valdarno, Italy. The techniques and materials outlined include the preparation of a panel support, sizing, gesso grosso, gesso sottile, gilding, punchwork, egg tempera painting, and mordant gilding.

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