Lot 17
  • 17

Giovanni de Lorenzo Larciani, formerly the Master of the Kress Landscapes

100,000 - 150,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Giovanni de Lorenzo Larciani, formerly the Master of the Kress Landscapes
  • Madonna and Child
  • oil on panel, unframed


Finanni family, San Gimignano;
Mazzanti family, Pistoia (according to the wax seals on the reverse).


F. Zeri, "Eccentrici fiorentini," in Bollettino d'Arte, vol. XLVII/IV, April-September 1962, p. 226, reproduced fig. 19.


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 on panel has not been reinforced on the reverse. It seems that the panel was probably originally joined vertically through the center, but this join does not appear to have broken or caused any paint loss to the surface. The panel has a slight curve from left to right. The painting is not particularly dirty, but the varnish is quite dull. One could certainly clean the painting and retouch it more accurately, but if the varnish were changed to be slightly glossier, the work could be hung in its current condition. There are retouches visible under ultraviolet light throughout the child and in the face of the Madonna. The surrounding areas show a few retouches, but not to the same extent.
"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

The identity of the so-called Master of the Kress Landscapes was securely established by Louis A. Waldman as the Florentine painter Giovanni di Lorenzo Larciani. This artist’s highly individual oeuvre was originally constructed by Federico Zeri around a set of three landscape spalliere panels formerly in the Samuel H. Kress collection, and now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.2  As his former pseudonym implies, Larciani often made use of beautiful, stylized landscapes usually combining dramatic, rocky terrains painted with a confident, swift brushwork.3  Despite his singular style, Larciani was very much aware of the major developments in Florentine painting of the time, especially the works of Fra Bartolommeo and Francesco Granacci, in whose studio he may have worked.

In this Madonna and Child, the artist has set his two figures against one of his characteristic landscapes, here with a group of houses, one with a smoking chimney, on the left and a typical craggy mountain at the right.  Most striking is the exotic, stylized arrangement of palm leaves rising up dramatically behind the Virgin’s head.

Two other works by Larciani, also depicting the Christ Child clutching his mother’s breast, and with the same fleshy thighs, arched feet and protruding heels, are in the Galleria Borghese, Rome and the Museo Civico, Arezzo.4


1.  See L.A. Waldman, “The Master of the Kress Landscapes unmasked: Giovanni Larciani and the Fucecchio altar-piece,” in The Burlington Magazine, no. 1144, vol. CXL, July 1998, pp. 456-469.
2.  See F. Zeri, op. cit., pp. 216- 236.
3.  See L.A. Waldman, op. cit., p. 457.
4.  See F. Zeri, op. cit., p. 220, reproduced fig. 7 and p. 225, reproduced fig. 16, respectively.