Lot 5
  • 5

Bicci di Lorenzo

150,000 - 200,000 USD
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  • Bicci di Lorenzo
  • The Madonna and Child with Saints Matthew and Francis
  • tempera on panel, shaped top, gold ground, in a carved and gilt engaged tabernacle frame with paired Solomonic columns


Possibly Principe Corsini, Florence;
With Pedulli, Florence, circa 1915;
George Blumenthal (1856-1941), New York, 1926-1941;
By whom bequeathed to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1941, inv. no. 41.100.16.


New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Florentine Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum, 15 June - 15 August 1971 (no catalogue);
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Renaissance Frames, 5 June - 2 September 1990, no. 5.


M. Logan Berenson, "Opere inedite di Bicci di Lorenzo," in Rassegna d'arte, 15, Milan 1915, p. 212, reproduced p. 213;
S. Rubinstein-Bloch, "Paintings - Early Schools," in Catalogue of the Collection of George and Florence Blumenthal, vol. I, Paris 1926, unpaginated, reproduced plate VII;
R. van Marle, The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting, Late Gothic Painting in Tuscany, The Hague 1927, vol. IX, pp. 8-9 and 33, note 1;
B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance, Oxford 1932, p. 85;
B. Berenson, Pitture italiane del Rinascimento, Milan 1936, p. 73;
B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Florentine School, London 1963, vol. I, p. 30;
B. Klesse, Seidenstoffe in der italienischen Malerei des 14. Jahrhunderts, Bern 1967, p. 241, cat. no. 131b;
F. Zeri and E.E. Gardner, Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Florentine School, New York 1971, p. 18, reproduced plate 41 (datable to the 1430s);
B.B. Fredericksen and F. Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1972, pp. 29, 347, 395, 432 and 608;
P. Hendy, European and American Paintings in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston 1974, pp. 26-27;
K. Baetjer, European Paintings of The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born in or Before 1865, New York 1980, vol. I, p. 11, reproduced vol. II, p. 17, no. 41.100.16;
T.J. Newbery, et al. (ed.s), Renaissance Frames, exhibition catalogue, New York 1990, p. 36, cat. no. 5, reproduced p. 37;
K. Baejter, European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865, A Summary Catalogue, New York 1995, p. 14, reproduced no. 41.100.16;
C.B. Strehlke, Italian Paintings 1250-1450 in the John G. Johnson Collection and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia 2004, p. 27 note 3;
 L. Sbaraglio in A. Scarpa and M. Lupo (ed.s), Fascino del bello: opere d'arte dalla collezione Terruzzi, exhibition catalogue, Rome 2007, p. 404, cat. no. I.8.


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 is enclosed in its frame, and from the reverse it seems to be all original. The frame may have received restoration and perhaps re-gilding. However, the entire work seems to be well preserved. The painting itself seems to be slightly subdued in color, and it may be that is it quite dirty. The gilding behind the figures and in the halos seems to be very fresh and undamaged. While the gilding may have been expertly replaced and repaired, it seems unlikely in this case. There is a noticeable dirt layer over the figures. No restorations are visible. There is a crack in the panel running through the figure of the saint on the right, and a few other noticeable cracks here and there, but none of these indicate any instability. There is another slight crack starting in the bottom edge that runs to the right of the figure on the left. I am very impressed with the condition, but the work should be cleaned and the very dirty frame may benefit from cleaning as well.
"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

Bicci di Lorenzo took over the family workshop from his father Lorenzo di Bicci in circa 1404, and was eventually succeeded by his son, Neri. He seems to have matriculated into the Arte dei Medici e Speziali before 1408 and is known to have joined the Compagnia di San Luca in 1428. His style was initially very close to that of his father so we do not have a clear idea of his artistic personality before his earliest dated work of 1414, a triptych in the church of San Lorenzo a Porciano in Stia, outside Florence.1 However, his style changed little after this other than showing an appreciation of the work of Gentile da Fabriano, who was in Florence between 1422-25.

By the 1430s, the probable date of execution of the present work, Bicci had found a successful working formula and a consistency in his style which can be perceived in many of his works though very few reach the level of the present work. The soft modeling of the figures is typical of Bicci's style, as is the mise-en-scène, in particular the way the figures populate the space around them. The painting is dirty but in very good condition and allows us to appreciate the care taken to describe the delicate folds of the red mantle, the gold highlights at the edges of the robes, the raised inscriptions in the halos and the fine decoration of both the damask cloth on the floor and the sheet that wraps the Christ Child. This interest in the intricate adornment of the fabrics, in particular, points to Gentile's influence on Bicci. In the quatrefoil at the apex of the frame we find an abraded image of God the Father while seven seraphim alternately painted red and blue, again mostly worn, fill the seven quatrefoils below. The painting can be compared to a very similar composition in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, though that painting is in a compromised state.2

The Corsini provenance is first reported by Rubinstein-Bloch (see Literature) and is tentatively accepted by subsequent scholars.

1. See R. Freemantle, Florentine Gothic Painters, From Giotto to Masaccio, London 1975, pp. 472-73, reproduced, fig. 979.
2. See Hendy, under Literature.