Lot 11
  • 11

Ludovico Mazzolino

250,000 - 350,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Ludovico Mazzolino
  • Saint Jerome in contemplation
  • dated on the plinth lower right: 1528
  • oil and gold on panel


Thomas Jefferson Bryan (1802-1870), New York;
By whom bequeathed to the New York Historical Society, New York, in 1870, accession no. 1867.373;
Their sale, New York, Sotheby's, 12 January 1995, lot 111;
There acquired by the present owner.


New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, on loan periodically from 1979 - circa 1986.


Catalogue of the Museum and Gallery of Art of the New York Historical Society, New York 1887, p. 58, cat. no. 549;
A. Venturi, "Ludovico Mazzolino," in Archivio Storico dell'Arte, 1890, p. 462;
A. Venturi and R.H. Benson, Illustrated Catalogue of the Works of the School of Ferrara-Bologna, 1440-1540, London 1894, p. 45, cat. no. 31;
G. Gruyer, L'Art Ferrarais à l'époque des Princes d'Este, Paris 1897, vol. II, p. 251;
L. Einstein and F. Monod, "Le Musée de la Société Historique de New York," in Gazette des Beaux-Arts, May 1905, p. 418;
B. Berenson, The North Italian Painters of the Renaissance, New York 1907, p. 257;
Catalogue of the Gallery of Art and New York Historical Society, New York 1915, p. 98, cat. no. B373;
B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Central Italian and North Italian Schools, London 1968, vol. I, p. 267;
S. Zamboni, Ludovico Mazzolino, Milan 1968, pp. 48-49, cat. no. 46;
H. Comstock, "Primitives from the Bryan Collection," in International Studio, vol. LXXXIV, May 1926, p. 88, cat. no. 348;
B. Fredericksen and F. Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth Century Italian Paintings in North American Collections, Cambridge Mass. 1972, pp. 140, 610;
E.K. Waterhouse, "Mazzolino & C.," in Da Borso a Cesare d'Este, La Scuola di Ferrara 1450-1628, Ferrara 1985, p. 168;
L.B. Miller, "An Influence in the Air: Italian Art and American Taste in the Mid-Nineteenth Century", in The  Italian Presence in American Art 1760-1860, I. Jaffe (ed.), New York 1989, p. 35, reproduced;
A. Ballarin, Dosso Dossi, La pittura a Ferrara negli anni del ducato di Alfonso I, Padua 1995, vol. I, p. 259, cat. no. 195, reproduced plate CLXXXIX.


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 on panel has no reinforcements on the reverse. The original horizontal battens are no longer present. There is one vertical crack in the panel on the left side through Saint Jerome's right hand, which has been rather awkwardly joined. Although this join is uneven, it is fairly acceptable. This could be corrected, but the work could also be hung in its current state. The panel is quite visibly curved from left to right. Under ultraviolet light, one can see that the figure shows barely any retouches, except possibly a spot beneath the nose and in the mouth. The shadowed areas of the red gown have received a few retouches, as have the shadowed areas of the blue robe. The vertical crack in the panel has also received retouches. The only other retouches are in the sky and pale mountains beyond. The retouching is fairly good.
"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

Painted in 1528, this remarkable panel is the latest known dated work by Ludovico Mazzolino.1  The painting once belonged to the celebrated New York connoisseur, Thomas Jefferson Bryan (1802-1870) and later formed part of the collection of the New York Historical Society (see Provenance).  Bryan opened the Bryan Gallery of Christian Art in 1852, comprising his collection of some 500 paintings, including works attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, Giotto, Titian and Mantegna.  Much of the collection was transferred to the New York Historical Society in 1867 and the present panel was among those eventually bequeathed to the institution upon Bryan’s death in 1870.

It is thought that Mazzolino trained in Ferrara under Ercole de’ Roberti, likely moving to the Bolognese workshop of Lorenzo Costa, following Roberti’s death. By the turn of the sixteenth century, however, Ludovico Mazzolino was Ferrara’s leading painter.  On 20 May 1504, the artist received payments from Duke Ercole I d’Este for his frescoes in the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli.2  When Alfonso I d’Este came to power following the death of Ercole I in 1505, Mazzolino was employed to complete decorations in the Castello Estense, including the private rooms of the duke’s wife, Lucrezia Borgia.3  The influence of Roberti and Costa was manifest for the duration of Mazzolino’s career, but more prevalent in this painting is the dramatic impact of Albrecht Dürer.  Dürer’s prints were readily available in Italy and the German artist even visited Ferrara while travelling to Bologna in 1512-1513.  The pure naturalism of the crumbling architecture in this painting and the pronounced muscularity of Saint Jerome, with his slightly gnarled fingers and toes, instantly recall Dürer.  Yet the treatment of the background landscape is quintessentially Ferrarese.  While Saint Jerome is alone in contemplation, accompanied by the lion, in the background he appears again in a small vignette, accompanied by monks.  As Silla Zamboni notes, the composition of the church is so unusual as to suggest it may have been painted from life.4

Zamboni published the painting as dating to 1523, but the correct reading of the inscription as 1528 identifies this panel as one of the last to have been executed by Mazzolino before his death.  Other late works include the artist’s Raising of Lazarus, in the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, and the Massacre of the Innocents in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, though each of these works is undated.  While the exact date of Mazzolino’s death is not known, on the 27 September 1528 he executed a will, having been struck down by the plague, and in documents pertaining to his daughter’s dowry dating to the end of 1530 cite him as already deceased.5

1.  G. Baruffaldi, Vite de’ pittori e scultori ferraresi, vol. I, Ferrara 1844, pp. 126-131
2.  M. Grasso, “Mazzolino, Ludovico,” in Dizionario biografico degli italiani, vol. 72, 2008, online edition.
3.  Ibid.
4.  S. Zamboni, under Literature, p. 49.
5.  M. Grasso, op. cit.