Andrea di Bartolo was an Italian painter, active in Siena between 1389-1428. It is very probable that he was the master of Sano di Pietro.
Andrea di Bartolo was the son and pupil of Bartolo di Fredi, a very prominent painter in Siena. His youth was spent working in his father’s workshop which received many prestigious orders.
He collaborated with his father and Luca di Tommè on an altarpiece (now lost) for the altar of the shoemaker’s guild in the cathedral of Siena in 1389. This is his first documented work. However, it is believed that his hand can be discerned in works of his father painted between 1380 and 1389, such as in the Massacre of the Innocents (Walters Art Museum).
Andrea likely set up his own workshop around 1390. He was extremely successful in Siena and obtained numerous commissions even from as far as Veneto. His patrons were drawn from the same monastic circles as his father such as the Franciscans of Montalcino and the Dominicans of Siena. From his studio he produced a large number of works, some of which have survived and are found in various museums around the world. Like Simone Martini he travelled far to execute work for patrons, including the Marches, Veneto and Treviso.
Often trained as goldsmiths, the Bartolo family artists were skilled at punching or tooling patterns into gold backgrounds and haloes. The brilliant, jewel-like colors are also hallmarks of their work. Paintings done in this elegant manner are often called International Gothic, a sumptuous style associated with the royal courts and used throughout Europe at the beginning of the 1400s.
The drama and emotion of the scene of Christ’s crucifixion is captured here in details like the grieving angels, the soldier breaking the legs of one of the crucified thieves, and the collapse of the Virgin Mary. This painting was once a small part of a large altarpiece created by the Bartolo family workshop in Siena, Italy. It would have been the center panel of the predella (“altar step”), the row of images at the bottom of an altarpiece. It was probably flanked by three panels on either side telling the story of the Passion—the events leading up to the resurrection of Christ.