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, email@example.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's.
This work on panel has been cradled on the reverse. Although a horizontal crack running through the center of the work remains active, the paint layer itself is mostly stable. There are old cracks and slight distortions, particularly in the lower left, which need attention. The painting is noticeably dirty, but unabraded.
The details in most of the animals and figures are still very well preserved, except the animals on the far left, where losses have been rather poorly retouched. If the structural repairs were re-examined, it seems that the central crack could be safely joined and retouched. The remainder of the picture would certainly respond well to cleaning and accurate retouching where necessary.
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This fascinating panel depicts three episodes from the Creation: at left God the Father stands over a group of exotic animals, blessing his new creations; in the center, with a gesture reminiscent of that in Michelangelo's ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, he reaches toward Adam; and in the background at far left, Eve is brought forth from Adam's rib. The rather idiosyncratic painting style is very close to that of the so-called Master of Serumido, a close follower of Piero di Cosimo, named after an altarpiece representing the Madonna and Child Enthroned with Four Saints
, in the Church of Serumido, Florence. This master’s artistic personality was first isolated by Federico Zeri in 1962, though a tentative identification to Mariotto Dolzemele has more recently been proposed by Serena Padovani.1
The Master of Serumido was clearly a well-connected artist and collaborated with Raphael on the celebrated portraits of Maddalena and Agnolo Doni, now in the Pitti Palace, Florence (inv. no. 61), painting groteschi
on the reverse of both which date to circa
As Dennis Geronimus indicates, the somewhat eccentrically portrayed figures and sparse landscape in this painting are reminiscent of those in the Master of Serumido’s Annunciation at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (inv. no. 14708, fig. 1).2 Like the Master of Serumido, the author of this painting was almost certainly working in the ambit of Piero di Cosimo, however we see also the influence of Filippino Lippi. Geronimus notes parallels between this Creation scene and Lippi’s dramatic fresco of Saint Philip Driving the Dragon from the Temple of Hieropolis, in the Strozzi chapel in the church of Santa Maria Novela, Florence. The striding pose of Saint Philip, in Lippi’s fresco, his arm raised to banish the dragon, is echoed here in the dynamic poses of God the Father.
We are grateful to Dennis Geronimus for his assistance in the cataloguing of this lot on the basis of photographs.
1. F. Zeri, “Eccentrici fiorentini”, in Bollettino d’Arte, IV, XLVII, 1962, pp. 216–236; Serena Padovani, “I ritratti Doni, Raffaello e il suo ‘eccentrico’ amico, il Maestro di Serumido”, in Paragone, 3, LVI, 2005, no. 61, pp. 3-26.
2. Private written communication with Dennis Geronimus, dated 14 December 2014.