Lot 18
  • 18

Francesco Ubertini, called Bachiacca

150,000 - 200,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Francesco Ubertini, called Bachiacca
  • The Holy Family with the Infant Saint John the Baptist
  • oil on panel, unframed

Catalogue Note

This newly rediscovered panel by Bachiacca was painted circa 1540. It shows the Mannerist artist adapting Marcantonio Raimondi's print, The Madonna of the Palm Tree, to his own eclectic style.1 The print in turn derives from The Madonna of Divine Love of around 1518 in Capodimonte, Naples, now considered to be by Raphael's workshop.2 Raimondi's design follows quite closely the modeling of the figures of the Madonna, Elizabeth and the Infants of the Naples prototype but removes the figure of Joseph upper left and replaces the classical setting with a landscape and palm tree. In the present composition the landscape is broadly similar to the print, with only minor substitutions such as the manger for the shed upper left, and the central tree for the palm, but it is painted in his own idiom, very similar in style to his Gathering of Manna in the National Gallery of Art, Washington.3 Crucially, in the present design Saint Elizabeth has been replaced by Saint Joseph who is depicted as arguably the most Bachiacca-esque figure.

Three other derivations from the print are known, all of which were in the past ascribed to Bachiacca but which have more recently been reattributed to his studio.4 The current whereabouts of all three are listed as unknown, but two were formerly in the Doetsch collection in London and one was formerly in the Wiesbaden Museum, Germany. Though these derivations all mimic the pose of Raimondi's Madonna, other details vary enormously and the designs appear as pastiches of different elements borrowed from both the print and Bachiacca. The Doetsch paintings and the Wiesbaden work replace the Infant Saint John with a figure lifted from Bachiacca's sheet of studies of children in Christ Church, Oxford.5 The landscapes also differ and are based on sources as varied as Dürer and Lucas van Leyden, whose designs must have been readily available in the workshop since other works by Bachiacca borrow elements from the latter, particularly the Baptism of Christ in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.6 The second Doetsch painting is even further removed from the Raimondi print, as the scene has been transformed into an Adoration and the Infants are replaced with loose copies after the children in Bachiacca's early Ledas.7

We are grateful to Dottor Carlo Falciani for endorsing the attribution following firsthand inspection of the work.

1. See K. Oberhuber, ed., The Illustrated Bartsch, New York 1978, vol. 26, p. 89, cat. no. 62 (69), reproduced.
2. See J. Mayer Zur Capellen, Raphael, the Paintings, vol. II, pp. 247-251, reproduced.
3. See R.G. La France, Bachiacca, Artist of the Medici Court, Florence 2008, pp. 216-218, cat. no. 62.
4. Idem, pp. 293-294, cat. nos. 140 (reproduced fig. 90), 141 and 142. A fourth variant is in the Keresztény Múzeum in Estergom though La France lists this as neither by Bachiacca nor his studio (La France, op. cit. p. 293, note 290). For reproductions of cat. nos. 141 and 142 see L. Nikolenko, Francesco Ubertini called il Bachiacca, Glückstadt 1966, figs. 62 and 63.
5. See La France, op. cit., p. 276, cat. no. 108, reproduced fig. 71.
6. Idem, pp. 179-180, cat. no. 35, reproduced plate XXI.
7. Idem, pp. 152-54, cat. nos. 14-16, reproduced figs. 4-6.