Completed British 19th C, except portraits, Continental European after 1800 11 Further information sought on this likely painting of the Collegiata, San Gimignano

Church Interior: Florence
Topic: Execution date

This is not Florence, but the interior of the Collegiata, San Gimignano. The altarpiece is a major painting by Domenico Ghirlandaio 'The Funeral of Santa Fina' of 1475–1478. This was that artist's first major commission.

However, is the dating of McInnes' painting of this interior really of 1860, or is it earlier? Royal Academy 1858, no. 527, was McInnes' 'The Shrine of Santa Fina in the Duomo of San Geminiano, Tuscany'. The Collegiata is also the Duomo. The shrine is the saint's tomb designed by the sculptor Benedetto da Maiano. So the painting exhibited would have been of a different part of the chapel.

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. This interior has been identified as The Chapel of Santa Fina in the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, San Gimignano, although the date of execution could not be confirmed. Art UK’s record has been updated and the new information will be visible on the website in due course.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this discussion. To those viewing it for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.


Kieran Owens,

Within the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta, in San Gimignano, the chapel that contains the shrine of Santa Fina is made up of three elements. The central burial place can be seen here:

Perpendicular to the shrine, on the left-hand-side chapel wall is this fresco:,_Obsequies_of_St_Fina.jpg

Perpendicular to the shrine, on the right-hand-side chapel wall is this fresco:,_Announcement_of_Death_to_St_Fina.jpg

Representing two scenes from the saint's life, these two side-wall frescos were painted between 1475 and 1478 by Domenico Ghirlandaio. In order to paint this discussions' picture, McInnes would have been standing within the confines of the chapel, with his back to the right-hand-wall.

Kieran Owens,

Ooops!! I did not mean to press the Report Comment button. Please accept my apologies ArtUk.

Kieran Owens,

Martin, was the above explanation convincing enough to answer your queries regarding the location of this fresco vis-à-vis the other components of the chapel's decoration?

Additionally, the review in the Evening Mail of Monday 3rd May 1858, of Robert McInnes' contribution to that year's Royal Academy exhibition (527), with its mention of a "group of Italian worshippers", suggests that this discussion's painting of 1860 is not the same work. See attached.

Kieran Owens,

Many thanks, Martin.

Additionally, attached is a short obituary for Robert McInnes, as it appeared in the Aberdeen Evening Express on Wednesday 10th February 1886.

One tip that I would respectfully offer. While searching for any artist or sitter whose name starts with Mc, especially in the online British Newspaper Archive, always try the alternative of M', i.e. search for Robert McInnes as well as for Robert M'Innes. The Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software makes a particular distinction between these particular typographical variations and such a search always produces different results.

Kieran Owens,

From the above obituary it is worth noting that one of McInnes's last portraits was of Sir Henry Seton Stewart, 3rd Baronet (1812 - 6th December 1884). This discussion's painting was a gift from Sir Douglas Archibald Seton Stewart, 5th (and last) Baronet (who was born on the 20th August 1857 and died in Sterling on the 19th February 1930). He was Sir Henry's nephew, and the second son of his younger brother Archibald Seton Stewart (4th Baronet). In fact, all of the paintings by Robert McInnes in the Sterling Smith Art Gallery's collection were donated by Sir Douglas, suggesting a close relationship between the painter and the Seton-Stewart family.

Before recommending that we accept the identification of this as the Chapel containing the shrine of San Fina in the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta, in San Gimignano, it would be interesting to know where the date of 1860 comes from. Perhaps the Stirling Smith Art Gallery can help. As Martin points out, McInnes exhibited a view of the chapel in 1858 and the current work is oil on paper, and thus more likely to be a study not a finished painting. It might indeed be earlier, as are his two other dated Italian subjects on Art UK.

Kieran Owens,

When this discussion was initiated, from where did the date of 1860 come, as the year in which the work was created? Does it appear somewhere on the painting, or was it taken from an old curatorial record?

In the absence of further information about the date, I am happy to recommend a new title of "The Chapel of Santa Fina in the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, San Gimignano"