Lot 2
  • 2

Jacopo del Sellaio

60,000 - 80,000 USD
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  • Jacopo del Sellaio
  • The Nativity, an extensive landscape beyond
  • tempera on panel


Todd Family, Westchester, New York, thence by descent to Edwin W. Bright by before circa 1950.


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 not been restored for a number of years. The panel is flat. The paint layer is stable at present, but has shown instability in the past. The restoration that has been applied is very amateurish and misleading. One can see that the faces and hands of the figures, and the animals and all of the details on the left side show great detail and clarity. This is hampered by some very heavy handed repaint in the roof of the manger, in the vegetation on the right side and particularly in the blue cloak of the Madonna. If the work is cleaned, the quality of the original paint will become much more visible and clearer, but damages will become more apparent as old restorations are removed. These will be most noticeable in the dark colors of the brick wall behind the Madonna. Although the restoration needed will be very complex, the work will respond very well. Some small tests were made to judge the real condition of the work in the center of the left side, in the lower left hand edge of the barn structure and between the Christ child and the Madonna. Our findings show that although there is damage and a need for retouching, there is a healthy paint layer here that should be revealed and accurately restored. With proper attention, the removal of the sloppy overpaint, and a careful restoration, this painting will noticeably improve.
"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

Previously unpublished, this Nativity scene is a newly discovered work by Jacopo del Sellaio, restored recently to his oeuvre by Nicoletta Pons.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. 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,