Lot 92
  • 92

Giovanni Battista Salvi, called Sassoferrato

250,000 - 350,000 USD
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  • Giovanni Battista Salvi, called Sassoferrato
  • The Virgin and Saint Joseph with the sleeping Christ Child
  • oil on canvas, unlined


Anonymous sale, Dijon, Cortot-Vregille-Bizouard, 19 November 2011, lot 35.


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 recently cleaned and is noticeably dirty. However, the condition is remarkably good, and there is an attractive patina at present. The shadowed colors in the Madonna's blue gown have slightly blanched, and this blanching can also be seen in the wooden side of the bed along the bottom of the picture. Depth has been lost in the darker colors elsewhere as well. There are hardly any retouches. The old lining is mostly still effective, although the edges may need some attention.
"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

Sassoferrato's touching depiction of the Holy Family was only recently rediscovered (see Provenance) and the attribution is upheld by François Macé de Lépinay.1  Prior to its reappearance, the painting was known only though a preparatory drawing in the Royal Collection Library, Windsor (inv. no. 906083).2  The subject is derived from Raphael's celebrated composition for the so-called Madonna of Loreto, painted circa 1508-1509, now in the  Musée Condé, Chantilly (inv. no. inv. PE 40).  In Raphael's painting, however, the Christ Child is awake and restless and reaches to grasp the fine veil, held aloft playfully by his mother.  Later in the century, circa  1550, the Ferrarese painter Benvenuto Tisi, called Garofalo, adapted Raphael's model for a canvas now in the Musée du Louvre, Paris (inv. 695, fig. 1).  Garofalo omits the figure of Saint Joseph at left, adding instead a window onto a landscape, and depicting the Christ Child as sleeping.  

In this composition, Sassoferrato combines elements from both the Raphael and Garofalo versions.  Like Raphael, he includes the heavily draped, green curtain, and the figure of Saint Joseph and represents the fabric in the Virgin's hands as a transparent veil, rather than the opaque linen.  From Garofalo's invention, however, the artist imitates the round, wooden crib with scrolled carving, over which he drapes the limbs of the sleeping Child.  Rather than the contraposto pose of Raphael's Madonna, here her torso is turned to the left, like that of Garofalo, with both elbows bent, she carefully reaches with the fabric so as not to disturb the sleeping Child.

We are grateful to François Macé de Lépinay for endorsing the attribution on the basis of photographs.

1.  Private written communication, dated 5 October 2014, on the basis of photographs.
2.  F. Macé Lépinay, "Sassoferrato's drawings at the Royal Library of Windsor. Some remarks and new relationships", in Bulletin de l’Association des historiens de l’Art italien, 15-16, Paris, 2010, p. 174, cat. no. B.C.912, reproduced fig. 10.