Lot 10
  • 10

Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi, called Botticelli and Studio

500,000 - 700,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi, called Botticelli and Studio
  • The Madonna and Child
  • oil on panel


Panciatichi collection, Florence, by 1880 (according to the 1902 sale below);
Sir Thomas David Gibson-Carmichael, Bart. (1859–1926), later 1st Baron Carmichael, Castlecraig, Scotland;
His sale, London, Christie's, 13 May 1902, lot 272 for £1,680 (as Botticelli) to Agnew's, on behalf of Benson;
Robert H. Benson (1850–1929), 16 South Street, Park Lane, London and Buckhurst, Sussex;
His collection sold en bloc for £400,000 to Duveen on 28 June 1927 (as Botticelli);
With Joseph Duveen (1869–1939), London, Paris and New York (a French customs stamp is visible on the verso);
By whom sold, along with two other items, for £2,100 in December 1930 to Ventura (as School of Botticelli);
With Eugenio Ventura, of 2 Via Salvagnoli, Florence, imported into Florence on 12 January 1931 (according to a customs stamp on the reverse);
With Galleria Cortinovis, Bologna;
From whom acquired by the father of the present owner in circa 1950.


London, Royal Academy, Winter Exhibition, 1910, no. 10 (as Botticelli);
Manchester, City Art Gallery, Loan exhibition of the Benson collection of old Italian masters, 27 April – 3 September 1927, no. 66 (as Botticelli).


L. Cust, "La Collection de M. R.-H. Benson," in Les Arts, Paris, London, New York October 1907, no. 70, p. 26 (as attributed to Botticelli);
Winter Exhibition, exhibition catalogue, London 1910, p. 7, cat. no. 10 (as Botticelli);
R. Benson, Catalogue of Italian Pictures Collected by Robert and Evelyn Benson, London 1914, pp. 45–46, cat. no. 24, [reproduced, illustrated ed., 1914] (as Botticelli);
Loan exhibition of the Benson collection of old Italian masters, exhibition catalogue, Manchester 1927, p. 23, cat. no. 66 (2nd ed., p. 25, cat. no. 77) (as Botticelli);
A. Porcella, "Una 'Madonna' sconosciuta del Botticelli,"  in L’Illustrazione Vaticana, no. 18, 30 September 1931, pp. 22–26 (as Botticelli);
 "The Benson Madonna," in The Illustrated London News, 26 December 1931, pp. 1062-63 (as Botticelli);
T. Borenius, "Art" in M.H.E. Carmichael (ed.), Lord Carmichael of Skirling. A memoir prepared by his wife, London 1929, p. 316, under note 1 (as studio of Botticelli);
G. Mandel, L'opera completa del Botticelli, Milan 1978, p. 100, under cat. no. 93 (as a replica);
C. Sebag-Montefiore, "R.H. Benson as a Collector," in J. Wake (ed.), Kleinwort Benson: The history of two families in banking, Oxford 1997, p. 484, no. 17 (as attributed to Botticelli).


The following condition report has been provided by Karen Thomas of Thomas Art Conservation LLC., 336 West 37th Street, Suite 830, New York, NY 10018, 212-564-4024, info@thomasartconservation.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. In general the paint layers appear to be in an excellent state of preservation. Delicate restoration glazes have been applied to address wear in the flesh passages and are just visible under ultraviolet illumination. Trateggio-like restoration is found in the shadowed portions of the niche behind the Madonna's head. Retouching dealing with losses is readily visible due to their no longer matching their surroundings. The panel is comprised of two tangentially cut boards, one wider than the other. Based on repairs on the back of the panel, it appears the join has opened from the back in the past, visible on the front as old, restored cracks running through the Madonna's face. Two cross battens appear to be non-original. A slight compound lateral convex warp is visible. The varnish is fairly yellowed and doesn't fully saturate the pigments. Cleaning to remove the discolored varnish would allow the original brightness of the colors to be appreciated, however the painting may be enjoyed in its current state.
"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 tender depiction of the Madonna and Child was painted by Botticelli and his workshop during the 1490s, when the artist was at the peak of his career. It has not been offered at auction since 1902 and has not been on the market since 1950. The composition repeats the central section of Botticell's magnificent painting from 1488-90 known as the San Barnaba Altarpiece, in the Uffizi, Florence (fig. 1).The altarpiece was painted for the church of San Barnaba, which was begun in 1322 and in 1355 was entrusted to the care of the Arte de' Medici e degli Speziali, who most likely commissioned the work. It hung in the church until 1808, when it was moved to the Accademia in Florence and subsequently taken to the Uffizi in 1919.

Close analysis of the under-drawing of the present work (fig. 2) confirms that the composition was carefully laid out using the same cartoon as the altarpiece, as was standard practice in Botticelli's workshop. Another version of the design, of clearly inferior quality to the present work and executed without the participation of Botticelli himself, is in the National Museum of Malta in La Valetta.2 Despite making use of a cartoon, Botticelli and his workshop did not feel obliged to merely replicate the original. The architectural marble niche which frames the figures differs considerably from the Florence work, as does the layout of both the Virgin's and the Child's hair. Even with the naked eye significant pentiments can be made out in the Madonna's right thumb, as well as in the layouts of the figures' chins, for example, and several further can be seen with the aid of the IRR scan.

The painting has formed part of some noteworthy collections. It is reported to have belonged to the Panciatichi family, the prestigious Florentine patrons of whom two were to sit to Bronzino (figs. 3 and 4) only a few decades after the present work was painted. The picture subsequently made its way into the Carmichael collection before entering the celebrated collection of Robert Benson. After stumbling into some financial difficulties, his whole collection was sold in 1927 for the staggering sum of £400,000 to Robert Duveen, the formidable art dealer who was arguably the most influential figure in bringing masterworks to the United States. Since around 1950 the painting has been in a European private collection. 

1. See R. Lightbown, Botticelli, Complete Catalogue, Berkeley 1978, vol. II, pp. 66-69, cat. no. B49, reproduced vol. I, plate 31.
2. Ibid., pp. 123-24, cat. no. C17, reproduced.