Allentown Art Museum displays artistic creations from all over the world. The two paintings that caught my attention are "Madonna and child enthroned" by Jacopo Del Casentino and "Mr. Darlington's Still Life" by George Cope."Madonna and child enthroned" is the only known work officially signed by Jacopo Del Casentino. The miniaturist piece was restored in 1992, and has since caused dispute about the date of the artist's work. Some historians date the painting around 1340, whereas recently it has been pushed back to 1325 by historian Miklos Boskovits. Casentino's Madonna and Child Enthroned is featured at the center panel of a miniature tabernacle triptych, which in total measures approximately 39 x 42 inches. Mary and Jesus are surrounded by four angels, as well as Saint Bernard and Saint John the Baptist. This panel measures 18 x 9 inches, and the texture is tempera on poplar wood. The painting both represents Gothic traits and traits that focus on humanism. The hierarchy of the figures in the paintings expresses religious symbolism - Mary and Jesus are above all else. Certain other qualities recall the Gothic style that was most often seen in Cimabue and Duccio's paintings. For instance, the Madonna appears larger than anything else in the triptych. Also, the divine halos surrounding the figures and the gold background of the painting are both indicative of the Gothic style. On the other hand, certain characteristics like Mary's protruding knees, drapery, and the symmetry and realistic features of the angels lend themselves to Casentino's interest in humanism. This piece is also reminiscent of Robert Campin's Merode Altarpiece without the humanistic symbolism. The similarity is that Casentino's could act as an altarpiece - the triptych fashioning portrays a continuous narrative where the baby Jesus and the crucified Jesus are shown in the collective piece. Mary also appears twice - once on the throne in the center panel, and then again on the right panel at the crucifixion, both times wearing the same drapery and red cloth shirt. The background behind the throne as well as in the other panels is very decorative and Gothic. The presence of Saint Bernard and Saint John the Baptist as well as the angels around the throne shows the significance of the enthroned Madonna and Child. The saints are drawn with prayer books in hand, and looking up at Mary and Jesus as the vantage point - the perspective draws to Jesus and the center of Mary's head.
Jacopo del Casentino, also known as Jacopo Landino, was a Florentine painter and miniaturist who lived during the fourteenth century. He was also one of the founders of the Academy of Saint Luke at Florence in 1349, which acted as a guild for painters and miniaturists like himself. Casentino specialized in small devotional altars commissioned for private worship. Along with artists such as Bernardo Daddi, Casentino helped popularize these altars throughout Italy. As with many of his contemporaries, he was influenced by the early master, Giotto (1267 - 1337), who Daddi was an apprentice of. Both Casentino and Daddi showed an influence from the Sienese style of painting in their works. It is noted that Casentino may have been in Giotto's workshop and was a pupil of another Giotto follower, Taddeo Gaddi (1300 - 1366). It has been mentioned that the later Gothic style Casentino painted in was also influenced by the Sienese painters Pietro Lorenzetti (1280 - 1348) and his brother Ambrogio (1290 - 1348).
George Cope (1855-1929) was an artist who stayed close to home. He began his career painting the lush Brandywine River Valley landscape in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and its wildlife and architecture. He later explored realism in highly detailed