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Madonna and Child with Sts. Nicholas and PaulMadonna and Child with Sts. Nicholas and PaulLuca di TommèSienese Schoolc. 137052 1/4 x 45 1/8 in.; 132.715 x 114.6175 cmTempera and gold on panelLos Angeles County Museum of ArtLos Angeles, California<p>Luca Di Tommè or Luca Thome (Siena, active 1356-1389)</p><p>The beginning of this Sienese artist's career remains a mystery.  The earliest historical documentation of di Tommè comes from 1356 when the artist was enrolled in the painter's guild of Siena.  In 1550 Giorgio Vasari claimed Luca trained under Barna da Siena.  This claim is still disputed: however, Luca's early work is similar in composition and style to that of Barna da Siena and Pietro Lorenzetti. Luca's 1357 commission to restore a Virgin fresco originally painted by Lorenzetti shows his familiarity with this style.</p><p>From 1362 to 1366, Luca partnered with Niccolo di Ser Sozzo.  Sozzo greatly affected Luca, and Luca began assimilating and melding aspects of Sozzo's style with what he learned from Lorenzetti.  The hands of Tommè and Sozzo from this period are difficult to distinguish.  During the later 1360s, Luca's mature, individual style began to emerge.  He also rose to prominence during this time, becoming popular in Siena and elsewhere.  This fame was accompanied by more important and expensive commissions.</p><p>The period from 1366 to 1377 is considered the high point of production and artistic prowess for di Tommè.  By this time, he ran his own large workshop and employed many young artists.  <em>Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints Nicholas and Paul</em> was created in Luca's workshop during this period of major works.</p><p>Luca became more politically involved in his later years.  He held several different civil positions, including city councillor, during the 1370s and 1380s.  His final documented commission was in 1389 for an altarpiece for the Siena cathedral.  Luca's prosperous career influenced the style of local artists, especially those in Orvieto, Lucca, and Pisa.</p><p><em>Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints Nicholas and Paul </em>is<em> </em>an example of Luca's mature painting style, after he stopped working with Niccolo di Ser Sozzo in 1366.  This later style relied on monumental, stylized figures for the Madonna and Saints.  He also simplified poses and removed emotion from the faces.  This contrasts with his earlier style, characterized by delicate poses, fuller modeling, and expressive faces.</p><p>The Virgin's figure sitting on a cushioned bench dominates the composition.  Behind her, an elaborate cloth of honor drapes down and covers the Virgin's seat.  The Christ Child stands on her lap, raising his right hand as a sign of blessing.  In his left hand is an unfurled scroll, reading in Latin "<em>Ego sum lux mundi</em>" ("I am the Light of the World").  St. Nicholas stands to the left of the Virgin, wearing a bishop's miter and cope.  He is identified by the three golden balls that he holds along with a crozier (a ceremonial, hooked staff carried by a bishop or abbot).  Saint Paul stands to the right and is identified by his sword and dark-haired, balding head.</p><p>The early provenance of this painting is unknown, however different theories have been suggested and debated. It may have been created for a specific commission or may have belonged in a group of “stock pictures” that were sold with out a specific patron in mind.  Pictures of the Virgin were incredibly popular in Siena and the surrounding area and Luca's workshop produced many smaller pieces for local, parish churches and private, family chapels. </p><p>Paul Wescher suggested that the painting was commissioned by the commune of Siena to honor the 1363 victory over a group of brigands known as the Company of the Hat.  He further suggested that it was meant to honor St. Paul, the patron saint of the successful expedition.  Wescher's theory is based on a 1373 document of payment. However, many believe that Wescher's theory is wrong for several reasons.  First, the 1373 bill of sale does not contain enough detail to firmly associate the painting with it.  Second, the recorded payment was for one hundred five gold florins, far more than the expected price for a single panel painting of this size.  The fact that St. Paul does not stand at the Virgin's right hand (a position of honor) further suggests that this commission was not intended to honor St. Paul. Sherwood Fehm suggests that this bill of sale actually corresponds to a different di Tommè altarpiece, <em>Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, and Apollinaris</em>.  Fehm believes this larger polyptych is more likely to correspond with the high price on the 1373 contract. St. Paul occupies a more prominent, forward-facing position in the polyptych, suggesting it was commissioned to honor the saint.  Another author, Susan Caroselli, partially agrees with Fehm.  She agrees that <em>Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints Nicholas and Paul</em> is not the painting associated with the 1373 document.  However, she is not convinced by Fehm's argument that the larger polyptych is actually the unknown St. Paul altarpiece.</p><p>This painting has a long history of invasive restoration treatments.  The top edge is intact and retains the unprimed wood originally covered by an engaged frame that was removed at some point.  However, the other three edges of the panel have been cut down and eventually the support was thinned and cradled in an attempt counteract warping and splitting. Three wooden boards make up the primary support (reinforced with butterfly inserts) and were separated and thinned down individually (the original butterfly inserts were sawed in half).  The blue azurite in the Virgin's robe has darkened significantly and was over-painted with a thin layer of black paint during a previous restoration campaign.</p><p><a href="">The Collaboration of  Niccolò Tegliacci and Luca di Tommè - Getty Publications (downloadable pdf)</a></p><p><a href="">Three Methods of Modeling the Virgin's Mantle in Early Italian Painting - JAIC article by Norman E. Muller</a></p><p>Caroselli, Susan, and Joseph Fronek. "Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints Nicholas and Paul." In <em>Italian Panel Painting of the Early Renaissance in the Collection of the Los Angeles Museum of Art</em>. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art , 1994. </p><p>Fehm, Sherwood A. <em>Luca di Tommè: A Sienese Fourteenth-century Painter</em>. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1986.</p><p>Fehm, Sherwood A. "A Reconstruction of an Altar-Piece by Luca Di Tomme." <em>The Burlington Magazine</em> 115, no. 844 (1973): 463-66. Accessed July 1, 2014. </p><p>Fehm, Sherwood A. "Luca Di Tomme's Influence on Three Sienese Masters: The Master of the Magdalen Legend, the Master of the Panzano Triptych, and the Master of the Pieta."<em> Mitteilungen Des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz</em> 20, no. 3 (1976): 333-50. </p><p>Muller, Norman. "Three Methods of Modelling the Virgin's Mantle in Early Italian Painting." <em>Journal of the American Institute for Conservation </em>17, no.2 (1978): 10-18.</p><p>Vasari, Giorgio , Adrienne DeAngelis, and Gaston C. DeVere. "Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists." (accessed August 5, 2014). </p>A step-by-step description of Luca di Tomme’s working method based on a technical study of The Madonna and Child with Saints Nicholas and Paul (now located at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art). The techniques and materials outlined include the preparation of a panel support, sizing, gesso grosso, gesso sottile, underdrawing, pouncing, gilding, punchwork, and egg tempera painting.

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