His sale, London, Christie’s, 6 June 1874, lot 24 (as early Italian School) for 69 guineas;
There bought by Samuel Jones Loyd, later 1st Baron Overstone (1796–1883);
Thence by inheritance to his son-in-law Brigadier-General Robert Loyd-Lindsay, 1st Baron Wantage, VC, KCB, VD (1832–1901), Lockinge, Oxfordshire;
Thence by descent to the present owner.
London, Burlington Fine Arts Club, School of Siena, 1904, no. 40 (as follower of Francesco di Giorgio);
Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, Pictures from Lockinge House, Wantage, 1934, no.19;
London, Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd, Summer Exhibition by Old Masters, Including a Group on Loan from The Lockinge Collection, 1956, no. 2;
Fermoy Art Gallery, Kings Lynn, Renaissance Painting in Tuscany 1300–1500, 21 July – 4 August 1973, no. 22.
S. Colvin (ed.), A Florentine Picture Chronicle, London 1898, reproduced plates XVI–XVII;
P. Misciattelli, 'La donna senese del Quattrocento nella vita privata', in Bollettino senese di storia patria, 8, 1901 (according to Misciattelli 1929, p. 122);
A. G. Temple, A Catalogue of the Pictures Forming the Collection of Lord and Lady Wantage, 1902, pp. 57–58, no. 81, reproduced (as Florentine School);
A. Peraté, 'L'exposition d'art sienois à Sienne et à Londres', in Les Arts, 33, 1904, pp. 2–16 and Les Arts, 34, 1904, pp. 10–25 (according to Camporeale 2005, pp. 494, 512 n. 104);
A. G. Temple, A Catalogue of the Pictures Forming the Collection of Lord and Lady Wantage, 1905, p. 65, no. 81, reproduced (as Florentine School);
Prince d'Essling and E. Müntz, 'Pétrarque, ses etudes d'art, son influence sur les artistes', in Gazette des Beaux-Arts, Paris 1902, pp. 148, 273 (as Florentine School);
B. Berenson, The Central Italian Painters of the Renaissance, 2nd ed., New York and London 1909, p. 171 (as Francesco di Giorgio);
P. Schubring, Cassoni, Leipzig 1915, I, pp. 328–29, no. 464, II, reproduced plate CIX (as Francesco di Giorgio?);
A. McComb, ‘The Life and Works of Francesco di Giorgio’, in Art Studies, Princeton 1924, p. 24;
Guide to the Pictures at Lockinge House (A.T. Loyd’s collection), 1928, p. 21;
P. Misciattelli, 'Cassoni Senesi', in La Diana, iv, 1929, p. 122, reproduced plate 15 (as Francesco di Giorgio);
P. Misciattelli, 'Un ritratto di gentildonna senese del secolo XV', in La Diana, v, 1930, pp. 236–37, pl. 2 (as Francesco di Giorgio);
B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance, Oxford, 1932, p. 203 (as Francesco di Giorgio);
S. Brinton, Francesco di Giorgio Martini of Siena, London 1934, I, pp. 33, 110 (as Francesco di Giorgio);
R. van Marle, The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting, XVI, 1937, p. 283 (as shop of Francesco di Giorgio);
A. S. Weller, Francesco di Giorgio, Chicago 1943, p. 311 (to a design by Francesco di Giorgio but not his execution);
The Illustrated London News, 30 June 1956;
G. Carandente, I trionfi del primo Rinascimento, Moncalieri/Turin 1963, pp. 67–68, 131 n. 155, fig. 59 (as workshop of Francesco di Giorgio);
L. Parris (ed.), The Loyd Collection of Paintings and Drawings at Betterton House, Lockinge near Wantage, Berkshire, London 1967, p. 20, no. 2 (as school of Francesco di Giorgio);
B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Central and North Italian Schools, London 1968, vol. I p. 140 (in greater part by Francesco di Giorgio);
B.B. Frederiksen, The cassone panels of Francesco di Giorgio, J. Paul Getty Museum publications, no. 4, 1969, p. 44, fig. 29 (as Liberale da Verona?);
R. Toledano, Francesco di Giorgio Martini. Pittore e scultore, Milan 1987, p. 154, cat. no. A23 (as Pellegrino di Mariano?);
F. Russell, The Loyd Collection of Paintings, Drawings and Sculptures, 1991, p. 11, no. 27, reproduced plate 2 (as circle of Francesco di Giorgio);
A. De Marchi in Francesco di Giorgio e il Rinascimento a Siena, 1450–1500. (ed. L. Bellosi), exh. cat., Siena, chiesa di Sant'Agostino, Milan, 1993, p. 242, under no. 38 (as Liberale da Verona);
W. Einhorn, Spiritalis unicornis. Das Einhorn als Bedeutungsträger in Literatur und Kunst des Mittelalters, Munich 1998, p. 448 (as Francesco di Giorgio?);
E. Camporeale,'L'esposizione di arte senese del 1904 al Burlington Fine Arts Club di Londra', in Il segreto della civiltà. La mostra dell'Antica Arte Senese del 1904 cento anni dopo, G. Cantelli, L. S. Pacchierotti, B. Pulcinelli (eds), Siena 2005, pp. 234, 494, 496–97, 512 n. 104 and 116, reproduced fig. 13 (as circle of Liberale da Verona);
To be included in M. Vinco, Cassoni. Pittura profana del Rinascimento a Verona, Milano 2018, cat. 8 (forthcoming) (as by Liberale da Verona).
The composition of this painting is very similar to another panel of the same subject, last recorded with the Ehrich Galleries in New York, and sold in their sale, American Art Association, 20 November 1931, lot 51 (fig. 1).1 Here, an as yet unbound Cupid sits astride a very similar chariot, also drawn by two unicorns and followed by a crowd of virtuous women. The girl bearing the standard is, however, now accompanied by a bearded male figure. Even from old photographs, it is evident that probably the figures and certainly the chariot, landscape and unicorns are by the same hand, and that both panels must surely have originated in the same workshop. For many years when in the collection of Lord Overstone, the Loyd panel was thought to be from Florence, the largest centre of production for such works in the fifteenth century. However, from the time of the Burlington Fine Arts Club exhibition of 1904 onwards, this workshop was thought to be that of the Sienese painter, architect and sculptor, Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1439–1502), which evidently produced many such chests, and that the design of the panel was his. This attribution was then taken up to a greater or lesser degree by a number of later scholars, among them Schubring, Brinton, Weller and particularly Bernard Berenson, who felt that the painting was in large part by Francesco himself. At the same time, the ex-Ehrich panel was also exhibited in the 1920s as the work of Francesco.
More recent scholars, however, have turned away from this attribution, as the inflated group of cassoni associated with Francesco’s name has been reduced.2 The majority follow the suggestion first put forward by Burton Frederiksen in 1969, that the panel might be connected to the early work of Francesco’s younger contemporary Liberale da Verona. Hans Joachim Eberhardt, Andrea de Marchi and most recently Laurence Kanter and Mattia Vinco all now fully support an attribution to Liberale. The nature of the relationship between the work of Francesco and the youthful Liberale’s early career in Siena remains a source of much discussion. Liberale seems to have worked in Siena for about a decade after 1466, and with his associate Girolamo da Cremona, supplied the illuminations for the choirbooks in the Duomo, which were to have great importance for Sienese painting.
Liberale was also active as a panel painter, and seems to have produced a number of fronts of marriage chests (cassoni). Mattia Vinco sees in the Loyd panel a youthful work by Liberale painted in this phase in Siena around 1467, but reflecting the style of Sano di Pietro more than that of Francesco di Giorgio Martini. He thinks that the young illuminator may have been contracted to either Sano di Pietro’s or Francesco di Giorgio’s workshop (or both) before eventually becoming an independent painter in Siena. Hans-Joachim Eberhardt specifically compares the Wantage panel to Liberale's first illuminated choirbooks for the Duomo in Siena, one of which, Gradual 24.9, was paid for in November 1468, and the other, Gradual 20.5, is signed on one page and paid for in December 1470. The female figures in this panel, for example, can be closely compared to the winged angel in Liberale's miniature of The Vision of Castel Sant'Angelo in the latter, where the same facial type and distinctive clinging drapery forms are to be found (fig. 2).3 He has kindly suggested that the Loyd panel is more stylistically accomplished and mature than the ex-Ehrich cassone, which he thinks may also be an early Liberale from around 1467, while he dates the present work to around 1469. Other scholars such as Christiansen, Strehlke and Kanter, think that this phase of Liberale’s career in Siena may also be seen, for example, in other cassoni panels such as the Abduction of Europa in the Louvre (fig. 3), or that depicting the Story of Tobias sold, London, Christie’s, 6 July 2017, lot 17. The posture of the figures and their distinctive hairstyles and draperies all reflect Liberale’s possible association with Francesco di Giorgio and his workshop. The Loyd panel, by contrast, is less indebted to Francesco and may even have been painted later, after Liberale’s return to his native Verona in 1476.
Note on Provenance
Samuel Jones Loyd acquired this panel in 1874, at the sale of the important collection of the marchand amateur Alexander Barker (c. 1797–1874). Alongside important French furniture, glass and ceramics, Barker’s collection included a number of highly important fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italian pictures, three of which were acquired by the National Gallery in London in 1861 and no less than thirteen more in the same auction at Christie’s. These included such masterpieces as Botticelli’s Venus and Mars, Piero della Francesca’s Nativity and Filippo Lippi’s Seven Saints. His cassoni were of similarly high quality, and included Botticelli’s four panels illustrating the Story of Nastagio degli Onesti from Boccaccio’s Decameron now in the Museo del Prado in Madrid. It is quite possible that Lord Overstone had got to know Barker’s collection through his friendship with the National Gallery’s first director, Sir Charles Lock Eastlake (1793–1865).
We are particularly grateful to Professor Laurence Kanter, Hans-Joachim Eberhardt and Mattia Vinco for their assistance with this catalogue entry.
1 Present whereabouts unknown. Recorded in the Fondazione Zeri Archive (n. 17765) as ‘Anonymous Sienese 15th century’, with a record of an annotation from Zeri pointing out ‘points in common’ with the work of the Master of Stratonice (Michele Chiampanti).
2 See, for example, L. Kanter, ‘Francesco di Giorgio’, in Painting in Renaissance Siena, exh. cat., New York 1988, pp. 294–97 and 317–18, for a discussion of the group of cassoni.
3 For which see, for example, C. Del Bravo, Liberale da Verona, Florence 1967, pp. xliv–xlv, reproduced.
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