Lot 104
  • 104

Pseudo Pier Francesco Fiorentino

30,000 - 50,000 USD
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  • Pseudo Pier Francesco Fiorentino
  • The Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist and an angel
  • tempera on panel


Charles T.D. Crews, 41 Portman Square, London, until 1915;
By whose Estate sold, London, Christie's, 1-2 July 1915, lot 153, for 125 gns. to Dunthorne;
R. Langton Douglas (1864-1951), London, 1915–16;
Arthur Lehman (1873-1936), New York;
By inheritance to his widow, Adele Lehman (1882-1965), New York;
By whom bequeathed in memory of her husband to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1965 (inv. no. 65.181.4).


New York, Wildenstein & Co, Masters of Seven Centuries, 1–31 March 1962, no. 5 (as Pseudo Pier Francesco Fiorentino, lent by Adele Lehman);
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Florentine Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum, June 15–August 15, 1971, no catalogue.


A.C.R. Carter, "The Art Sales of 1915", in The Year's Art, 37, 1916, p. 409;
R. van Marle, The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting, The Renaissance Painters of Florence in the 15th Century: The Third Generation, vol. XIII, The Hague 1931, p. 447 (as by Pier Francesco Fiorentino);
C. Virch, The Adele and Arthur Lehman Collection, New York 1965, pp. 34–35, reproduced (where given to the Lippi-Pesellino Imitators);
F. Zeri and E. Gardner, Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Florentine School, New York 1971, pp. 67-68, reproduced (where given to the Lippi-Pesellino Imitators);
B.B. Fredericksen and F. Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections, Cambridge, Mass. 1972, pp. 134, 329, 609 (as Pseudo Pier Francesco Fiorentino);
The Toledo Museum of Art: European Paintings, Toledo 1976, p. 125 (where described as a variant of the Toledo Madonna by Pesellino);
K. Baetjer, European Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art by artists born in or before 1865, vol. I, New York 1980, p. 108, reproduced, vol. II, p. 23 (where given to the Lippi-Pesellino Imitators);
K. Baetjer, European Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art by artists born in or before 1865, New York 1995, p. 22, reproduced (as Pseudo Pier Francesco Fiorentino);
L. Puppi, Opus Sacrum, exhibition catalogue, Warsaw 1990, p. 90, (as Pesellino).


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. This painting is currently only partially restored. The reverse of the panel has a cradle with some wax applied. The paint layer seems to be stable at present, and the panel is flat. The damages that require restoration are evident. The Saint in the lower right is in lovely condition, and Saint John on the left side is in similarly very good state. The figure of Christ seems to be blanched or possibly over-cleaned; some of the glazes are lost in this figure. The head of the Madonna has a large loss in the chin and neck, and another around her left eye towards her left ear. There are vertical losses in her blue gown. Much of the roses in the background are healthy. The pomegranate on the shelf in the lower left and the lily in the lower right are also healthy. Therefore, there is a lot to be said for the condition of many areas of the painting, although some areas obviously require attention.
"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

Datable to the last third of the fifteenth century, this is a typical work by the hand known as the Pseudo Pier Francesco Fiorentino. The nomenclature is somewhat misleading since Pier Francesco Fiorentino (circa 1444 - after 1497) was in fact mostly active in and around San Gimignano rather than in Florence, and the work of the Pseudo Pier Francesco is in reality much more closely dependent on Filippo Lippi (circa 1406-1469) and Francesco Pesellino (1422-1457). Zeri (see Literature) considered the output of this master to be the product of several artists in a single workshop and initially referred to the hand as 'Lippi-Pesellino Imitators', later adopting the modern sobriquet of Pseudo Pier Francesco Fiorentino.

The artist's approach to composition was accumulative to say the least, as testified by the three different sources for the present design: the Madonna and Child derive from the figures in Pesellino's panel in the Gardner Museum in Boston;1 the Saint John is based on the corresponding figure in Filippo Lippi's Adoration in the Gemaldegalerie, Berlin;2 the angel is lifted from Pesellino's Madonna and Child with Angels in the Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo.3 In keeping with the seemingly accumulative personality of the artist, several symbolically significant objects have been included in the iconography. The Passion is alluded to by the goldfinch which the Child is holding while the pomegranate on the ledge points to the Resurrection. The flowers also play an iconographical role: the purity of the Virgin is symbolized by the white lily and the roses are the attributes of Her love.

Several variants of the design are known, the closest being the the work in the National Museum in Budapest (inv. no. 2539), where it is ascribed to a follower of Pesellino.4

1. See P. Hendy, European and American Paintings in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, pp. 178-80, reproduced. 
2. See J. Ruda, Fra Filippo Lippi, Hong Kong 1993, pp. 447-48, cat. no. 51, reproduced plates 3, 300 and in color plates 127-29.
3. See The Toledo Museum of Art, European Paintings, under Literature, pp. 124-25, reproduced p. 177, plate 5, and in colour p. 49, plate 1.
4.  G. von Terey, Die Gemälde Galerie des Museums Für Bildende Künste in Budapest, Berlin 1916, p. 44, cat. no. 55, reproduced.