MASTER of the Dominican Effigies
(active c. 1328-1350 in Florence)
Italian painter and illuminator. At one time named after a polyptych in the Lee Collection (?1345; Courtauld Institute Galleries, London), he is now named after his most unusual panel, Christ and the Virgin Enthroned with Seventeen Dominican Saints (c. 1336; Santa Maria Novella, Florence). He has been identified with Ristoro di Andrea (active c. 1334-64) or some other illuminator associated with Santa Maria Novella, but this is unproven. It has also been suggested that the work of another illuminator, the Biadaiolo Master, may constitute an early phase of his career; if correct, this would reinforce his position as the chief heir to Pacino di Bonaguida, with whom he may have trained and certainly collaborated. Like Pacino, his work derives ultimately from the St Cecilia Master and forms part of what has been called the 'miniaturist tendency', a group of painters often associated with small-scale anecdotal narratives.
Like his slightly older contemporaries Jacopo del Casentino and the Master of the Cappella Medici Polyptych, he responded to the ideas of Giotto without entirely understanding them. The work of Giotto's pupil Bernardo Daddi, however, provided a more accessible source of inspiration for his panels. His most successful work is in manuscripts, where, despite a delightful simplicity, his miniatures reveal strongly controlled designs animated by vivacious figures and lively patterns of colour, for example the Nativity and Annunciation to the Shepherds on a single leaf from a laudario or vernacular choir-book (National Gallery of Art, Washington). This artist executed a wide variety of commissions for various Florentine patrons, both lay and religious. These include such service books as an Antiphonary commissioned for Santa Maria Novella between 1328 and 1334 (Santa Maria Novella, Florence) and secular works, for example a fine series of miniatures for Dante's Divine Comedy (c. 1337; Castello Sforzesco, Milan).