Pietro degli Ingannati is an artistic personality active in the Veneto in the first half of the sixteenth century who has only relatively recently been fully recognised. His work has often been confused with that of Francesco Bissolo, his probable master and another Venetian whose work, like Ingannati's, is most obviously influenced and inspired by the late Madonne
of Giovanni Bellini. Ingannati inherited from Bellini a love for nature and 'the natural' as well as a lyrical harmony that extends through the protagonists that populate the frontal plane of all his works into the imaginative landscapes behind. Ingannati's landscapes, in fact, evoke the moving and expressive effects achieved by Giorgione; here the brooding sky, pools of sunlight, and dramatic, silhouetted townscape recall the background of Giorgione's most famous work, La Tempesta
, more than the serene and idealistic summer landscapes that offset Bellini's later paintings such as the Madonna del Prato
in the National Gallery, London.1
Bellini's late Madonne
were to inspire an entire generation of Venetian painters who would latterly become known as the Belliniani. Ingannati devoted his entire career to the emulation of Bellini and the latter's earliest followers, such as Vincenzo Catena and Palma Vecchio. His last dated work from 1548 manifests only a modest stylistic progression from those works considered by Caccialupi as his earliest, such as the Madonna and Child with John the Baptist, Mary Magdalene and S. Nicola da Tolentino
formerly in the Staatliche Museum, Berlin, which Caccialupi considers to be the work that 'apre l'attivita dell'Ingannati' in 1505.2
Caccialupi dates the present painting midway through his career, to circa
1530, noting the Palma-like Saint Catherine, the 'bellinismo' of the other figures and the 'giorgionismo' of the landscape. Berenson was probably the first to suggest the attribution to Ingannati, writing on the back of a photograph now in the Istituto di Settignano, that had been sent to him by José Pijoan in 1956, that although it reminded him styistically of Bonifazio Veronese he found it closest to Ingannati.
On the reverse of the panel is an inscription, largely destroyed by the attachment of one of the vertical batons, that suggests the painting was formerly in the collection of Louis-Philippe, Duc d'Orléans (1747-1793). All of Louis-Philippe's Italian paintings were sold in 1793 to the Belgian banker Edoaurd Walkiers and eventually, by the latter's cousin Count François-Louis-Joseph de Laborde-Méréville, they found their way to London where they were acquired en masse
by a consortium of English aristocrats led by the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater. In 1798 all of these paintings were exhibited at Bryan's Gallery in Pall Mall and put on sale. Many had been reserved by the consortium, while the others were acquired by a handful of other blue-blooded English buyers. One of these was a 'Mr Maitland', family name of the Earls of Lauderdale at Thirlestane.3
A partially destroyed label on the reverse of the panel denotes that it was once at Thirlestane in the Maitland collection. Thus, though it has not been possible to identify the painting securely with any in the list of the Orléans collection compiled by William Buchanan in 1824, for reasons that descriptions are short, attributions often erroneous and sizes not given, it seems plausible that the painting was acquired for the Lauderdale collection from that of the Duc d'Orléans.
1. See A. Tempestini, Giovanni Bellini. Catalogo completo dei dipinti, Florence 1992, pp. 240-2, no. 86, reproduced.
2. See Caccialupi, under Literature, p. 31, reproduced fig. 25; and p. 30, reproduced fig. 1.
3. See W. Buchanan, Memoirs of Painting, with a Chronological History of the Importation of Pictures of Great Masters into England by the Great Artists since the French Revolution, London 1824, p. 21.