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In 1427 Renaissance manuscript illuminator and panel painter Giovanni di Paolo completed one of his most important commissions: an altarpiece for the Branchini family chapel in the church of San Domenico in Siena, Italy. The polyptych was disbanded, likely in the fifteenth century. The Getty exhibition The Shimmer of Gold: Giovanni di Paolo in Renaissance Siena unites several panels of the remarkable altarpiece for the first time since its dispersal.

In this episode, we visit the galleries with Yvonne Szafran, senior painting conservator, Davide Gasparotto, senior curator of paintings, and Bryan Keene, assistant curator of manuscripts, at the J. Paul Getty Museum, who discuss what is depicted in the panels as well as di Paolo’s painting techniques. We also learn about the exciting technical analysis being undertaken that may eventually help to identify other missing panels.

Mary and the Christ Child, Mary dressed in dark blue, on a gilded wooden panel

Branchini Madonna, 1427, Giovanni di Paolo. Tempera and gold leaf on panel, 72 × 39 in. The Norton Simon Foundation, Pasadena

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The Shimmer of Gold: Giovanni di Paolo in Renaissance Siena exhibition information

JIM CUNO:  Hello, I’m Jim Cuno, president of the J. Paul Getty Trust. Welcome to Art and Ideas, a podcast in which I speak to artists, conservators, authors, and scholars about their work.

YVONNE SZAFRAN:  When we unpacked the pictures from Siena and they rejoined their siblings, if yo...

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This post is part of Art + Ideas, a podcast in which Getty president Jim Cuno talks with artists, writers, curators, and scholars about their work.
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