Luca di Tomme: A Sienese Fourteenth-Century Painter

By Sherwood A. Fehm Jr. | Go to book overview
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Preface

Luca di Tommè was an important Sienese painter during the second half of the fourteenth century. Although many of the major trends in Sienese painting have been analyzed by Millard Meiss in his Painting in Florence and Siena after the Black Death ( 1951) and H. W. van Os in his Marias Demur und Verherrlichung in der sienesischen Malerei, 1300-1450 ( 1969), we lack detailed knowledge of many of these lesser known artists. Earlier in the century Bernard Berenson, Raimond van Marie and F. Mason Perkins sought to reconstruct Luca di Tommè's artistic personality by grouping pictures around a series of signed, documented or otherwise authenticated works, while a number of individual studies, particularly those by Cesare Brandi, Millard Meiss and Federico Zeri, have attempted to establish a chronological development among these works and have offered interpretations regarding iconographic significance. There has been little agreement as to Luca's exact oeuvre. The latest Berenson list ( 1968), for example, contains fifty-seven paintings attributed to the artist, but many of these have been rejected by Meiss, while some have been accepted by Zeri. The major documentary source for the artist is Gaetano Milanesi Documenti per la storia dell'arte senese ( Siena, 1854-56); however his notes often lack accurate citations. The specific archival study by Pèleo Bacci, which dealt with the first third of the painter's life, never reached completion.

The aims here have been to assess Luca di Tommè's place within the context of fourteenth-century Sienese painting and to establish an accurate chronology for his life and works. I have also tried to examine in detail Luca's partnership with Niccolò di Ser Sozzo, as well as to study the artist's own stylistic sources, his influence, and something of the workings of his shop. The photographic record of Luca's works, in addition to both the catalogue and documents presented here, should aid in a re-evaluation of an artist whose importance has been overlooked for too long.

The study begins with a general evaluation of the artist's earliest works, from 1356 to 1361, and his stylistic sources in earlier Sienese painting traditions, especially Pietro Lorenzetti. The second chapter assesses his relationship with Niccolò di Ser Sozzo, a Sienese miniaturist and panel painter, somewhat older than Luca, while Chapter Three presents the artist's mature works, executed from 1366 to 1373 when his shop production increased considerably. Chapter Four focuses on the artist's Saint Paul altarpiece of 1374, formerly in the Chapel of the Calzolai in Siena Cathedral. His later works, as well as his dramatic shift in aesthetic approach to painting, are also discussed. Finally, included is a general evaluation of Luca di Tommè's work within the ambiance of Sienese painting during the last half of the fourteenth century.

-xi-

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