Dublin – National Gallery of Ireland (The Virgin and Child Triptych by Tommaso del Mazza)

Following our visit to Dublin’s National Gallery of Ireland a couple of weeks ago, I felt the need to post separately about a few of the artworks.

Not wishing to sound even more dull than usual, but I do find medieval artworks such as this really quite intriguing. Primarily as they were produced for a religious purposes, which means that they would have been extremely important to someone at some stage several hundred years ago. This triptych was painted on panel by Tommaso del Mazza, an artist working in Florence at the beginning of the Italian Renaissance. The gallery put this work at circa 1400, but the Getty Museum note that he wasn’t active after 1392, so this is probably from around 1390.

I’m not an art expert, so I’ll pinch the text from the gallery themselves:

“In Christian art, saints are usually easily identifiable by their attributes. In this case Saint Lucy, standing on the right, is recognisable because she holds an oil lamp, while Saint Bernard kneels beside her wearing the robes of the Cistercian order. The identities of the two saints in the left panel remain a mystery. The small figures are portraits of donors, individuals who commissioned the altarpiece as a votive offering to God. They are depicted comparatively small, while the Virgin and Christ Child, the most important figures, are large. Tommaso del Mazza painted in a stylised late-Gothic manner using brilliant colours.”

There’s more information about the artwork on the gallery’s web-site, but other than it was presented to them by the mining magnate Sir Alfred Chester Beatty in 1951, there’s no further provenance. Which is why I’ve posted this really, it’s one of those artworks that has such a potentially fascinating history, as this was likely in a church or used for private prayer by a wealthy individual. They’ve done well working out who painted it, which was a relatively recent discovery, but its provenance seems to be lost. I very much enjoyed my visit to Florence last year and I perhaps walked by the very location where this was painted. I suspect I’ve decided to wax a bit too lyrical here so will stop now….

So, there are no great revelations or thoughts here, but it’s a painting that I liked and decided I’d better briefly write about before I forget it.