The most celebrated Florentine artist of his generation, Cimabue (ca. 1240–1302) won acclaim for his achievements in naturalistic representation and emotional expression in monumental altarpieces, frescoes, and mosaics. In 1950 The Frick Collection acquired an extremely rare small-scale painting attributed to Cimabue, The Flagellation of Christ. Scholars immediately recognized the work’s beauty and importance but debated whether it was in fact a work by Cimabue or by his Sienese counterpart, Duccio di Buoninsegna (ca. 1255–1319).
In 2000 another small painting by Cimabue, The Virgin and Child Enthroned with Two Angels, was discovered in a private collection in Britain. Scholars attributed this previously unknown work to Cimabue based on stylistic comparisons to one of his celebrated altarpieces, the Virgin and Child Enthroned with Angels (Musée du Louvre, Paris). Studies further revealed that The Virgin and Child Enthroned, now in the collection of the National Gallery, London, and the Frick Flagellation once formed part of the same larger work, possibly a small altarpiece, or a diptych or triptych used for prayer. At an unknown date, this work was cut apart, and its individual scenes entered the art market as independent panels.