Lot 417
  • 417

An Italian marble relief of the Madonna and Child, by Domenico Rosselli (circa 1439–1498), circa 1480

200,000 - 300,000 USD
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  • Marble in wood frame
in giltwood frame, various old numbered tags and cataloging from early 20th century auctions attached to the reverse.


Collection of Signor Stefano Bardini, Florence, sold American Art Association, April 23-27, 1918, lot 422
Collection of a New York Gentleman, sold Anderson Galleries, New York, February 18, 1921, no. 102
Collection of Courtland F. Bishop, sold American Art Association, November 21-23, 1935, lot 598
The Estate of Thérèse Lownes Noble, sold Sotheby Parke Bernet, May 31, 1974, lot 15


J. Pope-Hennessy, Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum, vol. I, no. 125, fig. 146, vol. II, pp. 149-150, London, 1964
C. Avery, "The Beauregard Madonna" in Studies in European Sculpture, London, 1981, p. 25, fig. 3
M. H. Schwartz (ed.), European Sculpture from the Abbott Guggenheim Collection, New York, 2008, no. 103, p. 190-1


Frame: 19th century with some older elements. Losses, worm holes, flaking paint, and breaks along bottom edges. Marble: surface with remnants of cream-colored pigment and possible varnish. Would benefit from cleaning. Surface abraded, particularly at high points such as tips of noses and the Child's knuckles. Chips around edges of relief and around the edges of some of her drapery including lower left corner. Some inclusions in marble, including Child's right forearm. Surface crack / inclusion to right of Child near waist, and another diagonally through His lower abdomen continuing into the top portion of her first three fingers and down through her drapery. Crack circling around His elbow joint.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

This serene and charming relief of the Virgin and Child by Domenico Rosselli appears to be the marble from which the polychrome stucco relief of the same composition in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London was made. Also ascribed to Rosselli, the stucco squeeze bears an inscription on the back: DIDOMENIC, recognized by Fabriczy (op.cit.) as Rosselli and later accepted by Schöttmuller, Middeldorf and Pope-Hennessy among others.

Strong comparison can be made with Rosselli's known works, particularly with the faces on his reliefs of the annunciate angel and Virgin, circa 1460-61 in San Petronio, Bologna (Pisani, op.cit., p.51) as well as the cherubim in the relief with God the Father in the Collection di Val d'Elsa, Siena (Pisani, op.cit., p. 55, fig. 10) which have similarly wide set eyes, high foreheads and slightly oblong but round faces. These facial types are also repeated throughout the decoration of the Sala degli Angeli in the Palazzo Ducale, Urbino (Pisano, op.cit., p.57, fig.12).

Rosselli's debt to the master Desiderio da Settignano is evident here in the composition, specifically in the borrowing and modifying of details such as the standing figure of the Child grasping His swaddling cloth and of the position of the Virgin. Indeed Gentilini (Bormand et. al., op.cit.,) discusses the difficulty in resolving the authorship of some marble works attributed to Desiderio and suggests alternative attributions to his pupils and contemporaries, including Rosselli.

A similar relief by Rosselli (Venturi, op.cit., p. 674, fig. 457) with Trinity Fine Arts in 1990 and now in a private European collection incorporates the same motif of the Child playfully pulling at the band of cloth through his hands. This motif also appears in a stone relief by Rosselli now in the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts.

Domenico Rosselli received his artistic training in Florence, modeling himself after Desiderio da Settignano and Antonio Rossellino, the latter with whom he probably apprenticed. In the 1460s he worked in Bologna and Pisa but by the end of the decade he was in Florence. In 1468 he produced his only dated Florentine work, the baptismal font in Santa Maria a Monte near Empoli. In around 1472-3 he moved to the Marches where he worked in Pesaro and between circa 1476 and 1480 as a designer and decorative sculptor at the Palazzo Ducale in Uribino. His series of reliefs and stucco decoration in Urbino as well as his signed and dated 1480 stone retable in the cathedral in Fossombrone are some of his best known works.


C.V. Fabriczy, "Sculture di Domenico Rosselli", in L'Arte, X, 1907, pp. 218-222
A. Venturi, Storia dell' Arte Italiana, VI, Milan, 1908 (reprinted NY 1983), pp.671-4, fig. 457
L. Pisani, 'Domenico Rosselli a Firenze e nelle Marche' in Prospettiva. Rivista di storia dell'arte antica e moderna, Florence, April 2001, issue 102, pp. 49-66
Francesco Negri Arnoldi, "Antonio Rossellino e Desiderio da Settignano. Sulla paternità di alcune celebri Madonne fiorentine del Quattrocento" in Confronto; studi e ricerche di storia dell'arte europea, Naples, 2003, issue 2, pp. 58-64
M. Bormand, B. Paolozzi Strozzi and N. Penny (eds.), Desiderio da Settignano. Sculptor of Renaissance Florence, (exh. cat.), National Gallery of Art, Washington, Musée du Louvre, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence, 2007