Todd Family, Westchester, New York, thence by descent to Edwin W. Bright by before circa 1950.
Previously unpublished, this Nativity scene is a newly discovered work by Jacopo del Sellaio, restored recently to his oeuvre
by Nicoletta Pons. According to Giorgio Vasari, Sellaio trained alongside Sandro Botticelli under Fra Filippo Lippi, before opening a workshop with Filippo di Giuliano.1
The artist's approach to figure painting here, particularly the elongated form of the Madonna, displays the clear influence of both Lippi and Botticelli. The Christ Child is treated in a manner typical of Sellaio, reclining on a cushion, the Child reaches eagerly toward his mother with both arms and his legs kick upward. The same Christ Child design is repeated in numerous Madonnas
and depictions of the Holy Family
by the artist, including the Madonna
in the in Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadeplphia (inv. no. 52) and that in the d'Atri collection, Paris.2
We are grateful to Nicoletta Pons for suggesting the attribution on the basis of photographs.
1. G. Vasari, Le vite de' più eccellenti pittori, scultori ed architettori, 1550, G. Milanesi ed., Florence 1878-1885, vol. II, pp. 627, 642–3.
2. Fondazione Zeri Fototeca archive, entry nos. 17087 and 17106 respectively,