Lot 18
  • 18

Cosimo Rosselli

600,000 - 800,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Cosimo Rosselli
  • The Crucifixion with the Madonna and Mary Magdalene, and Saints Andrew, John the Baptist and Francis
  • oil on panel


Commissioned from the artist by the notary Ser Andrea di Cristofano Nacchianti for the family chapel in the church of San Simone, Florence, on 2 August 1503;
Possibly removed as a consequence of the flood of the Arno in 1557;
Monte di Pieta, Rome;
Acquired by the Ruffo della Scaletta family in 1884;
By descent to the Principe Ruffo della Scaletta;
Gino Galli, Milan;
With Gilberto Algranti;
Anonymous sale, London, Christie's, 10 July 1998, lot 54;
There purchased by the present owner.


Catalogo per la vendita dei quadri, sculture in marmo, mosaici, pietre colorate, bronzi ed altri oggetti di belle arti esistenti nella Galleria gia del Monte di Pieta di Roma ora della Cassa dei depositi e prestiti, Rome 1875, 6-7, cat. no. 80-2768 (as anonymous, 15th century)
C. Guglielmi, 'An unknown panel by Cosimo Rosselli', in The Burlington Magazine, XCVII, no. 628, July 1955, p. 221, reproduced (here and henceforth as Rosselli);
D.A. Covi, 'A Documented Altarpiece by Cosimo Rosselli', in The Art Bulletin, LIII, no. 2, June 1971, pp. 236-38, reproduced;
D.A. Covi, Dizionario Bolaffi, 1975, vol. X, p. 19;
M. Sframeli, 'Due inediti fiorentini del Quattrocentoritrovati nell'Archivio Capitolare Fiorentino' in Paragone, XXXIV, 395, 1983, pp. 36-37;
C. Frosinini, 'Rosselli Cosimo', in La pittura in Italia, 1987, vol. II, p. 748;
P. Nuttal in D. Garstang (ed.), Gothic to Renaissance, exhibition catalogue, London 1988, p. 72;
R. Bartoli, 'In Mugello, tra Quattro e Cinquecento', in Paragone, XLV, 1994, p. 35;
E. Gabrielli, 'L'Impresa Sistina e l'ultima "maniera" di Cosimo Rosselli', in F. Benzi (ed.), Sisto IV. Le Arti a Roma nel Primo Rinascimento, atti del convegno internazionale di studi (Roma 1997), Rome 2000, pp. 213, 222, note 117;
A.R. Blumenthal in Cosimo Rosselli, exhibition catalogue, Winter Park, Florida 2001, p. 105, under cat. no. 7, and p. 146, reproduced in color p. 146, fig. 66;
E. Fahy in Cosimo Rosselli, exhibition catalogue, Winter Park, Florida, 2001, p. 252;
P. Zambrano and J. Katz Nelson, Filippino Lippi, Milan 2004, p. 499;
E. Gabrielli, Cosimo Rosselli, Turin 2007. pp. 238-39, cat. no. 98, reproduced in color plate XVI.


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 large panel is originally made from four or five heavy sections of wood joined vertically. Three wooden battens have been incorporated onto the reverse of the panel and some small dovetail reinforcements have been added in places to secure the joins. There is one visible and open crack running through the right side of Christ's torso, but all of the other joins and cracks do not seem to show any movement. Some instability has developed in the red gown of the kneeling Magdalene, in the red gown in the lower left, and in the gown worn by the Madonna on the left, but any active instability seems to be confined to these areas. There are also losses and restorations here and there throughout the remainder of the picture; they are focused on the cracks to the panel and the areas of instability mentioned above. The figure of Saint John on the right shows a fair amount of restoration. The monk to his right is less restored but has some weakness in his gown. The two figures on the left have also received restorations, but the face of the figure on the far left is very well preserved. The Madonna shows retouches in her forehead and hands. The landscape has survived very well. Needless to say, if the restoration were completely re-examined, the results would be a great improvement. However, a few local adjustments and restorations would certainly also be beneficial.
"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

This impressive Renaissance altarpiece was painted in 1503 when Rosselli at his full artistic maturity. After training with Neri di Bicci and possibly with Benozzo Gozzoli, he went on to become one of the more successful personalities of the Florentine artistic scene in the second part of the fifteenth century and was called to participate in the decoration of the Sistine Chapel with Sandro Botticelli and Domenico Ghirlandaio between 1480 and 1482 (fig. 1). Upon his return to Florence his workshop thrived and the great Fra Bartolommeo and Albertinelli were apprenticed to him. His later years, which were devoted almost exclusively to the production of altarpieces, saw him come under the influence of Pietro Perugino, who was by this stage also nurturing the precocious young Raphael. This later style is marked by a gentle melancholy which pervades his elegant protagonists, while the angular lines of his early work are replaced by softer and more carefully studied drapery, betraying the influence of Filippino Lippi.

Covi's documentary discoveries (see Literature, 1971) mean we know the precise requirements of the commission, among them the specification that angels were to collect Christ's blood in chalices and that Saints Andrew and Francis were to be included, since the chapel for which the altarpiece was ordered was dedicated to them. The commission also stipulated that the Madonna was to be shown weeping, but in keeping with Savonarolan ideals, she is instead depicted as calm and accepting of the events before Her.1 For his "skill, material and labour" the artist was paid 34 gold florins. Amusingly, Rosselli took down the required dimensions incorrectly so extensions (which have since been removed and lost) were required along the sides, and above the upper edge an unidientified artist named Domenico included a scene with the Calling of Saint Andrew.

1. See Zambrano/Katz Nelson, under Literature.