Lot 12
  • 12

Familiare del Boccati

250,000 - 350,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Familiare del Boccati
  • Madonna and Child
  • oil and tempera on panel


Umberto Pini, Bologna, by 1962.


J. Pope-Hennessy, "Francesco di Giorgio, Neroccio: two Madonnas and an altarpiece" in The Burlington Magazine, vol. 75, no. 441, London December 1939, pp.229-231, reproduced plate Ib; (as Francesco di Giorgio)
A.S. Weller, Francesco di Giorgio, 1439-1501, Chicago 1943, pp. 87-88, 95, reproduced fig. 25. (as Francesco di Giorgio);
R. Longhi, Un 'familiare del Boccati' under Appunti in Paragone, vol 153, Milan September 1962, pp.62 - 64, reproduced plate 58b (as the "Familiare del Boccati").


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. Even though this work has not been restored for some time, the condition is very good. The wood is stable and un-reinforced on the reverse. The gilding has some age and may be original. The condition of the paint layer throughout the painting is noticeably good and the restorations that do exist, which are mostly slightly visible under ultraviolet light, are minimal. The blue dress of the Madonna seen in the lower left and right is slightly worn but the four figures and much, if not all, of their clothing is very well preserved. If the work were carefully restored, it would respond nicely and be seen to be in very good condition.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

Roberto Longhi was first to isolate the personality of this distinct artist, dubbing him the "Familiare di Boccati" and uniting his oeuvre which then comprised the present panel, at that time in the Umberto Pini collection, Bologna; a further Madonna and Child with Two Angels in the Louvre, Paris; a Coronation of the Virgin in the Staedelsches Kunstinstitute, Frankfurt; and a Saint Sebastian in a private collection).

Longhi dismissed previous attributions of this work to the Sienese artist, Francesco di Giorgio, an opinion published by Pope-Hennessey and later reprised by Weller in his catalogue on that artist.2    Pope-Hennessey believed this panel to be a later work by Francesco, dating it between 1471 and 1475, and rationalising the divergence in style as due to its later execution in a period when "Francesco di Giorgio's art takes on a new firmness and an almost academic severity of outline."3  He also alluded to manifestations of the influence of Fra Filippo Lippi, citing the smooth features of the Madonna, the plump cheeks of the Christ Child and the extended position of his arm, as derivations in reverse of Lippi's Tondo, now in the Uffizi, Florence.There are however other stylistic peculiarities present in the panel: the sense of depth created by the perspective-drawn halos, most unlike the elaborately decorative designs of the Sienese artist's works; and the unusual rendering of the angels' and Christ Child's hair, falling in long, thin, vertical ringlets rather than the voluminous soft curls generally preferred by Francesco.  Both qualities, thought by Weller to be progressions in Francesco's art, are instead features indicative of its execution by a different hand entirely.5

Though somewhat elusive as a personality, the grouping of works by this anonymous artist is unmistakably homogenous and the moniker of the "Familiare del Boccati" was coined by Longhi due to the artist's apparent likeness in style to the Perugian painter, Giovanni Boccati, active in Marche and Umbria between 1445 and 1480.  Modern scholarship, meanwhile, has disputed the Familiare's association with this region and Andrea de Marchi considers him to have been a Lucchese painter, linking him to the Master of Benabbio (now identified as Baldassare di Biagio del Firenze) and Matteo Civitali, both of whom were active in Lucca during the same period.  De Marchi added a further Madonna and Child to the artist's oeuvre which manifests striking physiological parallels with the present picture (see fig. 1):  the smooth molding of the flesh of the faces; the Madonna's slightly pronounced and dimpled chin; her half closed eyes; and the stout little nose and Lippesque cheeks of the Christ Child.6  The similarities between the two panels leave little doubt of their having been painted by the same hand. 

We are grateful to Andrea de Marchi and Laurence Kanter for independently suggesting a full attribution to the "Familiare del Boccati".

1.  R. Longhi (see under Literature).
2.  J. Pope-Hennessey and A.S. Weller (see under Literature).
3.  J. Pope-Hennessy, op. cit., p.229.
4.  J. Pope-Hennessy, op. cit., p.229.
5.  A.S. Weller, op. cit., pp. 86-87.
6. See sale catalogue, Venice, Semenzato, 17 October 2004, lot 2.