©The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge

SIMONE MARTINI Siena c.1284 - 1344 Avignon Saint Geminianus, Saint Michael and Saint Augustine Purchased 1893 No. 552 Egg tempera and gold on panel. Three panels from a polyptych almost certainly from the church of St Agostino at San Gimignano. Vasari noted a painting done for that church which he ascribed to Lippo Memmi and Borghini noted an altarpiece in the same church which bore the name of Simone Martini - probably the same as that seen by della Valle in 1785. After the Napoleonic suppression of the church the painting appears to have been dismantled. The Fitzwilliam panels can be traced from the sale of Thomas Blayds in 1849 when they were said to have come from Ascoli and bore an attribution to Gentile da Fabriano. The central panel, showing the Virgin and Child is now in the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne (no. 880). Another panel in a private collection in Italy, showing St Catherine, has also been associated with the complex. Recent examinations of the carpentry of the panels has confirmed Andrew Martindale's suggestion that St Geminianus and St Augustine were at the outer edges of the polyptych. St Michael was attached to St Geminianus. The Virgin was attached to the St Michael and the St Catherine was on her right side, next to St Augustine making a five-panelled altarpiece. This new evidence which proves the altarpiece to have been a pentaptych adds conviction to Gert Kreytenberg's proposal that it was originally placed over the tomb of Blessed Bartolus by Tino di Camaiano in St Agostino, constructed during the years 1317-26, at much the same date as has been suggested for the painting on stylistic grounds. The altar is dedicated to St Catherine which explains her presence in the altarpiece. The St Michael has sometimes been assigned to an assistant, but the draughtsmanship is masterly, especially the foreshortening of the right hand, and the painting of the soul (perhaps a donor figure) is of the same