Lot 2
  • 2

Bartolomeo Vivarini

60,000 - 80,000 USD
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  • Bartolomeo Vivarini
  • The Madonna and Child before a red curtain
  • signed and dated on the cartellino lower right: OPVS·FACTVM·PER·BARTHOLOMEV[M] / M[ ]M·VIVA·RI[N]VM·DEMVRIANO 1472
  • tempera on panel, transferred to canvas, laid down on panel, gold ground
  • 32 3/4 x 25 3/4 inches


Private collection, Paris, until 1897;
With Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1897;
From whom acquired by Theodore M. Davis (1897-1915), Newport, Rhode Island;
By whom bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, inv. no. 30.95.277.


Charlotte, North Carolina, Mint Museum of Art, History of Art: High Renaissance, Venice, 1 - 28 December 1954;
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Venetian Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum, 1 May - 2 September 1974 (no catalogue).


B. Berenson, The Venetian Painters of the Renaissance, 3rd ed. New York 1897, p. 144;
J. Breck, "Dipinti italiani nella raccolta del Signor Teodoro Davis," in Rassegna d'arte, 11, July 1911, p. 111 (as circa 1480, doubting the date of 1472 that appears in the inscription);
B. Berenson, Venetian Painting in America: The Fifteenth Century, New York 1916, pp. 16–17, reproduced fig. 9 (reads the date as either 1472 or 1477);
B. Burroughs, "The Theodore M. Davis Bequest: The Paintings," in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 26, section 2, March 1931, pp. 14, 16;
L. Venturi, Pitture italiane in America, Milan 1931, unpaginated, reproduced plate CCLXVIII;
B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford 1932, p. 602 (leaves the last digit of the date in question);
L. Venturi, "Fifteenth Century Renaissance," Italian Paintings in America, vol. II, New York 1933, unpaginated, reproduced plate 358;
H. Tietze, Meisterwerke europäischer Malerei in Amerika, Vienna 1935, p. 327, reproduced plate 62 [English ed., Masterpieces of European Painting in America, New York 1939, p. 311, reproduced plate 62];
B. Berenson, Pitture italiane del rinascimento, Milan 1936, p. 518 (as dated 1470);
R. van Marle, The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting, The Renaissance Painters of Venice, vol. XVIII, The Hague 1936, pp. 109–10;
B. Fleischmann, in Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler, vol. 34, Leipzig 1940, p. 451;
H.B. Wehle, The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings, New York 1940, pp. 177-78, reproduced;
L. Coletti, Pittura veneta del Quattrocento, Novara 1953, p. XLVIII, reproduced plate 97;
B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Venetian School, London 1957, vol. I, p. 202 (as dated 1470);
R. Pallucchini, "Due Madonne inedite di Alvise Vivarini," in Arte veneta, 11, 1957, p. 198;
R. Pallucchini, I Vivarini, Venice 1962, pp. 45, 120, cat. no. 158, reproduced fig. 158;
B.B. Fredericksen and F. Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1972, pp. 211, 320, 607;
F. Zeri and E.E. Gardner, Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Venetian School, New York 1973, p. 91, reproduced plate 102;
K. Baetjer, European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, by Artists Born in or Before 1865, A Summary Catalogue, New York 1980, vol. I, p. 193, reproduced vol. II, p. 112;
K. Baetjer, European Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, by Artists Born in or Before 1865, A Summary Catalogue, New York 1995, p. 69, reproduced p. 68; 
A. De Marchi, in A. Scarpa and M. Lupo (ed.s), Fascino del bello: opere d'arte dalla collezione Terruzzi, exhibition catalogue, Rome 2007, p. 409, under cat. no. I.16.


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 work has been fairly recently mounted onto a new wooden support. I assume that it was originally painted on panel; however, there is a visible texture of linen in the gilded background, which suggests that the work had possibly been transferred from wood to linen, and back to wood. The paint layer itself is stable. It is quite worn in the flesh colors of both figures, and the gilding may have received some attention over the years. Restorations are difficult to positively identify under ultraviolet light, but one can see small spots of retouching running vertically through the figures, in the cheeks of the Madonna and in a few spots in the face of Christ. Some of the folds in the fabric to the left of the left hand of the Madonna may have been augmented. This is not a picture in particularly in good condition. However, it is also not a picture which would benefit from full cleaning, in my opinion. It may be that adjusting some of the restorations and lightly varnishing the work would be the best approach.
"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

Together with his brother Antonio, Bartolomeo Vivarini ran a family workshop from the mid- to late 15th century which operated in Venice but also operated further afield, sending their works as far as the Marches, Apulia and Istria. His first recorded work dates from 1450 when he signed jointly with his brother the large-scale polyptych for the Certosa in Bologna commissioned by Pope Nicholas V, now in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna.1

By the time this panel was executed in 1472, Giovanni Bellini had taken over as the dominant artistic personality in Venice and his influence was felt almost immediately. Indeed, the design of the present panel, with its background curtain and supportive parapet beneath the Child, the majesty of the figures, and the archaic Byzantine feel of the Child clothed, is indebted to Bellini's Madonna Greca from circa 1470.2 In view of the artistic developments introduced by Bellini, the gold background would already have begun to seem somewhat retardataire, but it was a feature which Bartomoleo was to use repeatedly.3 The same gold background can be seen in a Saint Catherine in the Terruzzi collection; as De Marchi notes (see Literature), the wide-rimmed halos present in both works are recurring features of Vivarini's style in the 1470s.

1. See Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna, Catalogo generale, Dal Duecento a Francesco Francia, Venice 2004, pp. 224-232, cat. no. 84, reproduced in color. 
2. Bellini's work is in the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan; see A. Tempestini, Giovanni Bellini, Catalogo completo, Florence 1992, pp. 72-73, cat. no. 20, reproduced in color.
3. Although the Brera Madonna also had a gold background in the past (which was removed during restoration in 1986-87), it should be noted that this was a later addition and was not part of Bellini's original design.