Painted for the predella of one the four altarpieces dedicated to Saints Dominic, Peter Martyr, Thomas Aquinas and Vincent Ferrer, in the church of San Domenico, Modena, circa 1480-90 and there until 1708;
Diena collection, Modena;
On deposit in the Galleria Estense, Modena, 1894-1899;
Baron Miller von Aicholz, Vienna;
With F. Kleinberger Galleries, 1914;
Anonymous sale, New York, Plaza Hotel, 23 January 1918, lot 30 (as School of Masaccio);
Karl Freund, New York;
His sale, New York, Parke-Bernet, 10 May 1940, lot 37 (as Lombard School, 15th Century);
With Schaeffer Gallery, New York, 1947;
Private Collector, New York;
By whom sold anonymously, New York, Sotheby's, 20 January 1983, lot 67 (as Bartolomeo degli Erri), when acquired for the present foundation.
A.Venturi, "La pittura modenese nel secolo XV", in Archivio Storico dell'Arte, vol. III, 1890, p. 381 (as Bottega degli Erri);
G. Cantalamessa, "Galleria e Medagliere Estensi in Modena", in Le Gallerie Nazionali Italiane, 1894, p. 49;
B. Berenson, "Nove pitture in cerca di un'attribuzione", in Dedalo, a.V., vol. III, 1924-5, p. 614;
B. Berenson, Three Essays in Method, Oxford 1926, pp. 9-10, reproduced fig. 8 (as Domenico Morone);
R. Longhi, "Ampliamente nell'officina Ferrarese", in Critica d'Arte, IV, 1940, pp. 169-70; republished in "Officina ferrarese", in Opere complete di Roberto Longhi, Florence 1956, pp. 219, 252 (as Bartolommeo degli Erri);
A.M. Chiodi, "Bartolomeo degli Erri e I Polittici Domenicani", in Commentari, vol. 11, 1951, p. 20 (as Bartolomeo degli Erri);
R. Brenzoni, Domenico Morone, Florence 1956, p. 42 (as Attributed to Domenico Morone);
R. Longhi, "Opere Officina Ferrarese, Florence 1956, pp. 219, 252;
B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Central Italian and North Italian Schools, London 1968, vol. I, p. 280 (as Domenico Morone);
D. Benati, Bottega degli Erri, Modena 1988, p. 143, reproduced in colour p. 141, fig. 110 (as Bottega degli Erri).
This Feast of Herod formed part of the same predella of a now dis-membered altarpiece as another panel of the same dimensions depicting the Baptism of Christ (fig. 1). The two panels, which were separated when sold as separate lots at Parke-Bernet in 1940 (see Provenance), had remained together since their creation in the late 15th century, and more latterly in the Diena collection, Modena, before passing onto the New York art market in the early 20th century.
Although as early as 1890 Venturi had attributed the two panels to the Bottega degli Erri (`Workshop of the Erri Brothers'), an attribution which stands today, they were subsequently mis-attributed for a large part of the 20th century, variously as from the School of Masaccio, as anonymous Lombard works and more recently (by Berenson) as by Domenico Morone. Berenson linked the two panels with four altarpieces which were formerly at the church of San Domenico, Modena,1 and which were dismantled and dispersed when the church was destroyed in 1708. He attributed all the known panels from this church to Morone. Later Roberto Longhi (afterwards confirmed by Chiodi), while acknowledging Berenson's association of the panels with the altarpieces at San Domenico, restored them and all others from the church to the oeuvre of the Erri brothers, tentatively proposing an attribution for the present panel and its counterpart to Bartolomeo.2
Benati (see Literature) ascribes both works to the later production of the Bottega on account of the 'scioltezza' of the landscape. Given the problems in distinguishing between the hands of Bartolommeo and Agnolo degli Erri, Benati publishes these works as 'Bottega degli Erri'; the output of the Erri brothers and their assistants was clearly organised along the lines of a mediaeval workshop, with multiple participation on a group of works, rendering assignment of individual authorship in particular works somewhat troublesome.
Another panel from the church of San Domenico, from the altarpiece dedicated to St. Thomas Aquinas, appeared at auction in Paris, Piasa, 25 June 2004, lot 31 (as Bartolommeo degli Erri).
1. The altarpieces were dedicated to Saints Dominic, Peter Martyr, Thomas Aquinas and Vincent Ferrer. It is not known with which of these the predella with scenes from the life of St John the Baptist belonged.
2. The panels from this altarpiece are now scattered across many different collections and museums, many of them in America, including the Jarves collection, Yale University, New Haven, the Metropolitan Museum, New York, the Washington National Gallery, and the M.H. de Young Museum, San Francisco.
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