next prev
Master of the Johnson Tabernacle
Lot No. 6 
Master of the Johnson Tabernacle
  • Master of the Johnson Tabernacle
  • Master of the Johnson Tabernacle
  • Master of the Johnson Tabernacle
  • Master of the Johnson Tabernacle

Master of the Johnson Tabernacle

(Florence active in the first half of the 15th Century)
Christ as Man of Sorrows with Symbols of the Passion,
tempera and gold on panel, 31 x 22.5 cm, integral frame

Private European collection

This small panel belongs to the production of an artist whose identity at present remains unknown but is conventionally referred to as the ‘Master of the Johnson Tabernacle’, named after a tabernacle formerly in the Johnson collection and now conserved in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (inv. no. 2034a).

This anonymous artist was active in Florence in the mid-15th Century and was influenced by Bicci di Lorenzo, as well as Beato Angelico and Benozzo Gozzoli. The present painting displays close analogies, both for its same subject, and in the way in which the figures and the halos are rendered, to a panel in the Musée du Petit Palais in Avignon, inv. no. 20253 (see: M. Laclotte/E. Mognetti, Catalogue of the Musée du Petit Palais, Avignon 1976, no. 261).

At the centre of the present painting Christ is represented as the Man of Sorrows as he emerges from the marble sarcophagus to reveal the marks of the Crucifixion. In the lower part of the composition, the Virgin, Mary Magdalene and Saint John the Evangelist are shown mourning him. Meanwhile, in the upper section, symbols of the passion are depicted, according to an iconographic typology that was diffused in Florence from the mid-Trecento. From the upper left down, the mocking of Christ by the soldiers, the column of the Flagellation, the denial of Peter, the spear of Longinus, the cut ear of Malco and, on the extreme left, the ladder used for the Crucifixion and Deposition. Represented respectively on the right are the kiss of Judas, the torch, which alludes to the Capture, the spear with the sponge soaked in vinegar, the thirty gold coins of Judas, an unidentified male figure and the washed hands of Pilate. Seen on the cross are hammers, whips, the crown of thorns as well as the cockerel that alludes to the denial of Peter.

Technical analysis:

IR images of the present composition show a thin accurate under drawing probably made with a small brush. In a few areas, the drawing was substituted by incisions, such as in the Virgin’s cloak.

The hue of Christ’s body’s is due to a green earth-based under layer glazed by a pale white flesh tone principally containing lead white. Saint Mary Magdalen’s red cloak is made by vermillion and by a lead-tin yellow on its edge. Vermillion is used in all the bright red colours, while a coccid-based red lake constitutes Saint John’s and the Magdalen’s cloaks. The interesting discovery of both azurite and indigo in the Virgin’s dark blue cloak is probably due to an indigo glaze over an azurite first layer, with incisions instead of under drawing. The background would have been originally dark blue, originally, because it contains a lot of copper-based pigment, identified as azurite by vis-RS. The back of the panel is painted with a brown colour, in order to simulate a red-brown stone like porphyry.

We are grateful to Gianluca Poldi for the technical examination.

Specialist: Mark MacDonnell

Master of the Johnson Tabernacle
Convert currency
  • realized price**
    EUR 56,250
    USD 64,000
  • estimate
    EUR 40,000 to 60,000
    USD 46,000 to 68,500

Mon.-Fri.: 9.00am - 6.00pm (CET)
+43 1 515 60 200


Old Master Paintings
Date: 17.10.2017, 17:00
Location: Palais Dorotheum Vienna
Exhibition: 07.10. - 17.10.2017

**Purchase price incl. all charges, commissions and taxes

Bids can no longer be placed via the internet. The auction is in preparation or has already taken place.

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience.
By using our webpages, you agree to the use of cookies. Further information