Taddeo Gaddi, Madonna and Child Enthroned with Ten Saints: Maestà with the inner shutters (sportelli) from a triptych: Annunciation and Nativity; Crucifixion, ca. 1330–34 Tempera, gesso, gold leaf and traces of silver  on panel, New-York Historical Society, Gift of Thomas Jefferson Bryan; The Alana Collection.

Mark Twain once observed that “there is something fascinating about science—one gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such trifling investment of fact.” He couldn’t have made a better prediction about what the “science” of art history would become as practiced today in most of our more...

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