Lot 106
  • 106

The Master of Palazzo d’Arco, possibly identifiable as Fra Battista Spagnoli

80,000 - 120,000 GBP
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  • The Master of Palazzo d’Arco, possibly identifiable as Fra Battista Spagnoli
  • Two episodes from the life of an early christian saint: The arrival of the saintThe stoning of the saint
  • the latter bears monogram lower right: AM (in compendium)
  • a pair, both oil on panel


Edward Hutton (1875-1969), Clifton Hill, St. John's Wood, London, by 1955;
Private collection, England;
Private collection.


G. Kaftal, Iconography of the Saints in the Painting of North East Italy, Florence 1978, pp. 1119-1120, cat. no. 344 A(3), reproduced figs. 1437-38 (as Veronese School, 15th century and whereabouts unknown);
A. Galli, "'Antonio della Corna e il Maestro di Palazzo d'Arco", in Arte Cristiana, LXXXIII, July - August 1995, 769, pp. 278-79 and 286, footnote 26, reproduced p. 284, fig. 12.


Both catalogue illustrations are representative. The first, as illustrated at the top of the page in the catalogue, is on a flat, stable cradled panel. The paint surface appears to be in good overall condition with no apparent damage or loss of paint except for a few minor scattered old stress cracks that run horizontally along the grain of the wood, most notably through the beard of the figure on the extreme right, and through the arch to the cheek of the right hand background statue, both of which can be seen in the catalogue illustration. Scattered minor retouching is concentrated in this area. Examination under ultraviolet light reveals further minor cosmetic retouching i.e. in the architecture at the top of the picture and to the floor at the bottom. There has been more recent scatterd minor retouching to the background and there are flecks of retouching throughout the figure groups which includes very minor strengthening to the contours of the back facing figure's legs and waist, and to the armpit of the small figure on the right. Apart from the presence of a discoloured varnish the picture appears to be in remarkably good condition for a work of this date. The second, as illustrated at the bottom of the page in the catalogue, is likewise on a flat, stable cradled panel and appears to be in a similarly good overall condition. There is also evidence of the original underdrawing and pentimenti can be seen, for example in the horse's upraised hoof, and in volutes above the arch. Examination under ultraviolet reveals evidence of minor, again scattered cosmetic retouching in the architecture and to a greater extent to the figure groups, most notably the body of the central figure visible through the arch and to the folds of the red drapery. Again the work is in remarkably good condition for it's age. Both are offered in matching decorative gilt wood and plaster frames with minor losses.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

The works now given to the Master of Palazzo d'Arco had until recently been considered to be by Antonio della Corna (active in Cremona in the second half of the 15th century). It was Alessandro Galli (see Literature) who first identified this independent hand and added the present works to a corpus of paintings which includes two panels of a polyptych, a Saint Bernardino together with Saint Jerome and a Saint Anthony of Padua together with Saint Paul in the Pinacoteca Malaspina in Pavia (inv. nos. 154 and 155), and a lunette depicting the Pietà in the Kunstinstitut in Frankfurt.1  To this catalogue of works can be added a series of scattered panels of scenes from the Passion, amongst which are a Christ before Caiaphus in the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore (inv. no. 37.481), and a Christ Washing the Disciples' Feet.2

Based on two inscriptions on the reverse of the Frankfurt panel, De Marchi (see footnote 1) has identified the master as Fra' Battista Spagnoli, the Carmelite friar, poet and humanist who in 1513 was elected to lead the Carmelite Congregation.3  It is evident from the style of the panels that the artist worked within quite a strict Mantegnesque framework, discernible particularly in the animated gestures and facial expressions, and the interest in the architecture which frames the compositions.

Kaftal lists the subjects under the heading 'Unidentified Saints'. Dott. Mattia Vinco has tentatively proposed that the scenes may tell the story of the martyred early Christian twins Cosmas and Damian, who were made to adore graven images by the Roman consul Lysias but of course remained true to their faith.

We are grateful to Dott. Mattia Vinco and Dott. Alessandro Galli for their kind assistance in the cataloguing of this lot.

1. See. A. De Marchi, in L. Fornari Schianchi (ed.), Galleria Nazionale di Parma, Catalogo delle opere dall'Antico al Cinquecento, Milan 1997, pp. 97-99, under cat. no. 93.
2. Anonymous sale, New York, Sotheby's, 20 January 1997, lot 124, as Antonio della Corna.
3. See De Marchi, op. cit., p. 98: the inscriptions read: "Bathista Mantovano carme. / pictor e poeta sacer. /1503 " and "Baptista Spagnoli Mantuanus pinxit."