(b. ca. 1280, Firenze, d. 1348, Firenze)
Tempera on wood, 144 x 194 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
The triptych portrays the half-length figures of the Virgin holding the Child in her arms with St Nicholas of Bari on the right and St Matthew the Evangelist on the left; the cusps contain roundels with busts of the Redeemer and two angels. It is signed and dated on the base; it is the painter's first dated work.
The layout of the triptych, in which the figures with their clear, bold outlines look like cut-outs set against the gold background, is inspired by Giotto's Badia Polyptych. The Madonna is wearing her characteristic blue robe over a white gown, decorated with golden cross and star-shaped patterns. The Divine Infant in her arms is grabbing on to a flap of her dress, as babies often do. St Nicholas can be recognised by his bishop's mitre, the richly decorated planet and the pastoral he is clutching in his right hand. In his left hand, he is holding a closed liturgical book, with an exquisite historiated cover. The Gospel that St Matthew the Evangelist holds close to his chest, indicating that he is the author, is just as finely decorated. The saint's robe has been pulled down towards his elbow, revealing a tunic underneath in a beautiful iridescent shade of olive green.
Bernardo Daddi was the owner of a successful workshop in Florence, specialised in the production of small panel paintings and small portable altars for private use and for home environments. Here, and in his other paintings, he focuses mainly on the narrative and decorative elements of his work, considered more important by his private customers than how the volumes of the figures were depicted.
This painting shows Daddi to be already a mature painter very close to Giotto, particularly the Giotto of the Paduan frescoes, and therefore contemporary with and similar to the Saint Cecilia Master.