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Scenes from Boccaccio's "Il ninfale fiesolano"



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Scenes from Boccaccio's
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1961.100.1
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Artist

Fra Angelico (formerly attributed to the Master of the Griggs Crucifixion)

Title

Scenes from Boccaccio's "Il ninfale fiesolano"

Creation Date

ca. 1415-1420

Medium & Support

tempera on panel

Dimensions

11 3/8 in. x 49 13/16 in. (28.9 cm. x 126.5 cm.)

Credit Line

Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Accession Number

1961.100.1

Copyright

Public Domain

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This panel once formed the front of a cassone, a chest used in a Florentine household for storing fine clothes. A bride’s dowry traditionally included such cases. This panel depicts scenes from Giovanni Boccaccio’s poem Il Ninfale Fiesolano (The Nymphs of Fiesole), written ca. 1343. The painting recounts the tale of the tragic love of a mortal youth (Africo) for one of the nymphs (Mensola) in the entourage of goddess Diana. In the first scene, Diana holds court in a verdant garden, warning the nymphs to beware of men. The heroine Mensola, to the right, points to the second scene, in which Venus, the goddess of love, appears to the handsome Africo in a dream. In scene three, his parents warn Africo not to pursue Diana’s nymphs. Finally, he reveals himself to Mensola (swimming with her companions), who falls in love at the sight of him. A companion chest, now lost, might have completed the tale with additional scenes, including the transformation of the nymph Mensola into the river of the same name. In 2005 Laurence Kantor, a noted scholar of early Italian art, hypothesized that this work was painted by an adolescent Guido di Pietro, later known as Fra Angelico, then learning his art in the workshop of Lorenzo Monaco.
 


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