Herman Walentin Schalin, Helsinki (1865–1954);
Thence by family descent to the present owners.
An inscription in Russian on the reverse of this painting records that it was transferred onto a new canvas in 1899, in Saint Petersburg, by Nicolai Sidorov. Sidorov was the brother of the better known Alexander, who had learnt sophisticated transfer techniques from Andrey Filippovich Mitrokhin (1766–1845), the first dedicated restorer in the State Hermitage Museum. Mitrokhin transferred several paintings in the museum from panel to canvas, including Raphael's Holy Family,3 and his method was perpetuated by his pupils so as to become the basis of Russian restoration.
Herman Walentin Schalin lost his sight as a cause of scarlet fever at the age of 12, and thereafter trained as a piano tuner in Finland. The reputation that he built was such that he was invited to work for concert pianists throughout Finland, Germany and in Saint Petersburg, in which city he is presumed to have acquired the present painting, probably after its transfer to a new canvas, possibly as a gift.
We are grateful to Professor François Macé de Lépinay for endorsing the attribution to Sassoferrato on the basis of photographs.
1. See F. Macé de Lépinay et al., Giovan Battista Salvi 'Il Sassoferrato', exhibition catalogue, Milan 1990, respectively pp. 72 and 94, cat. nos 21 and 35, reproduced in colour.
2. See The Illustrated Bartsch. Italian masters of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, vol. 40, New York 1987, pp. 330–37, especially cat. no. 30 C1, reproduced p. 330.
3. Inv. no. 91; see S. Vsevolozhskaya, Italian painting. The Hermitage, Saint Petersburg 1984, p. 233, reproduced in colour figs 44 and 45.
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