An intriguing 15th century Italian Panel Painting surfaces at a Paris Auction – UPDATED
One of the needles in the haystack at the November 15, 2013, Audap-Mirabaud/Drouot auction in Paris, which is littered with école italienne, école française, école flamande, école vénitienne, école milanaise, école bolonaise, école allemande and école européenne works is Lot 22, a 15th century panel depicting “St. Thomas Aquinas at the table of King St. Louis” by Bartolomeo degli Erri, active in Modena 1430-1479. The catalogue entry says the panel was part of an altarpiece dedicated to St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the four hagiographic altarpieces painted by Angelo brothers and Bartolomeo degli Erri for the church of San Domenico in Modena and dedicated to the four major figures Dominican: Saints Dominic, Peter Martyr , Thomas Aquinas and Vincent Ferrer. Other panels from the altarpiece can be found in the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, CT), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY), the De Young Memorial Museum (San Francisco, CA), and possibly others including a work at the Moravská Galerie (Brno, Czech Republic).
According to the Metropolitan’s Web site:
The picure depicts Saint Thomas twice: on the left he takes a book from a shelf, and on the right he is seated between Saints Paul and Peter, who have appeared to him in order to explain a passage in Isaiah. The monk shown at the upper left is probably Brother Rinaldo, to whom Saint Thomas dictated the exposition [see Acta Sanctorum, Martii, vol. 1, 1865, p. 668].
The panel is one of a group of perhaps nine scenes that originally surrounded an image of Saint Thomas Aquinas. The altarpiece was painted for a chapel in the church of San Domenico, Modena. The central panel is lost, but at least five other scenes depicting the life of Saint Thomas are known:
The Birth of Saint Thomas (Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven)
Saint Thomas at the Court of King Louis (private collection)
The Debate with the Heretic and Christ Approving Saint Thomas’s Work (M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco)
The Vision of Fra Paolino dell’Aquila (M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco)
The Preaching of Saint Thomas (National Gallery of Art, Washington)
Two more scenes may be part of this group:
The Childhood of Saint Thomas (formerly Schweitzer collection; sold, Christie’s, New York, January 11, 1979, no. 53)
The Death of Saint Thomas (Moravská Galerie, Brno)
San Domenico once contained three altarpieces by Bartolomeo, dedicated to Saints Dominic, Thomas Aquinas, and Vincent Ferrer; a fourth altarpiece dedicated to Peter Martyr (signed and dated by Simone Lamberti, 1450) is now in the Galleria Nazionale, Parma (no. 499).
The Gallery’s Web site includes the following provenance:
Commissioned c. 1470 for the old church of San Domenico, Modena; church demolished and rebuilt 1708, and its paintings perhaps dispersed at that time. Baron Michele Lazzaroni, Rome, by 1925. Mrs. Felix Warburg, New York, by 1936; gift 1941 to NGA.
 L. Vedriani, in Raccolta de’ pittori modonesi più celebri, Modena, 1662: 23, noted that the St. Thomas Aquinas altarpiece was in a chapel on the rood screen of San Domenico.
 It was first noted in the Lazzaroni collection by Bernard Berenson, “Nove pitture in cerca di un’ attribuzione,”Dedalo 5 (1925): 607.
 Bernard Berenson, Pitture italiane del Rinascimento, Milan, 1936: 323.