Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia
The Virgin Birth
20.6 x 33.5 cm; tempera and gold leaf on wood (FC 514)
This panel and its companion (The Virgin Wedding, FC 508) flanked a Presentation in the Temple (Upton House, National Trust), forming an alterstep with Stories of the Virgin, they were probably placed beneath a large image of the Madonna, in a similar style to the Assumption in the Sant’Andrea church in Siena. Its attribution to Giovanni di Paolo has never raised any objections. It was painted during his youthful phase, though perhaps it could be from a little later on. Similarities with compositions by Pietro Lorenzetti, Pietro di Giovanni Fei and Bartolo di Fredi, have been noted, connecting the panels to a fresco in the San Leonardo al Lago hermitage, near Siena. The space is deployed in a gothic manner in this scene, comparable to the fragment of the artist’s predella panel with the Birth of St. John the Baptist (National Gallery, London).