Lot 12
  • 12

Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi, called Botticelli and Studio

700,000 - 1,000,000 USD
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  • Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi, called Botticelli and Studio
  • The Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist and an Angel before a window
  • tempera on panel, a tondo


Possibly Baccio Valori, Florence, by 1591;
Possibly by descent to Alessandro Valori, Palazzo Valori, by 1 January 1696;
John Rushout, 2nd Baron Northwick (1770-1859), Thirlestane House, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, until 1859;
His sale, Thirlestane House, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, Phillips, 3 August 1859, lot 587 (30 guineas to Colnaghi on behalf of Nichols, as Botticelli);
There acquired by Richard P. Nichols, Cliftonville, Brighton, in 1859 until 1875;
By whom sold, London, Christie's, 30 April  1875, lot 19 (205 guineas to Colnaghi on behalf of the below, as Botticelli);
Sir George Salting (1836-1909), London, in 1875 until 1885;
From whom acquired by Robert H. Benson (1850-1929) and his wife, Evelyn Benson (1856-1943), London, in 1885 until 1927;
From whom acquired with the entirety of their collection by Sir Joseph Duveen (1869-1939), later 1st Baron Duveen, London, in 1927;
Baron Michele Lazzaroni, Rome, by 1929;
With John Levy Galleries, New York, by 1930;
From whom acquired by Mr. E.W. Edwards, Cincinnati, Ohio by October 1930;
Thence by descent to his daughter, Eleanor Wood Prince (1911-2008), Chicago, by 1978;
By whose estate sold, New York, Christie's, 28 January 2009, lot 8 (as Studio of Botticelli).


Possibly F. Bocchi, Le Bellezze della città di Fiorenza, Florence 1591, p. 182 (as Botticelli, in the collection of Baccio Valori, "Tondo molto grande, doue di mano di Sandro Botticelli è dipinta vna Madonna, che ha il puttino in collo di leggiardo colorito. È di aria nobile la Vergine, & il figliuolo altresi: & due Angeli in graziosa vista, & lieta sono di vero bellissimi, & molto rari.  Due vasi di rose, le quali mostrano mirabil freschezza, accendono fi letizia chi mira, & il colorito nel tutto vago rende questa pittura nobile & rara.");
Possibly F. Bocchi, G, Cinelli (ed.), Le Bellezze della città di Fiorenza, Florence 1677, p. 365;
Possibly F. Baldinucci, Notizie de' Professori del disegno da Cimabue in qua: Secolo III e IV dal 1400 al 1540, Florence 1728, p. 138 (as Botticelli, in the collection of Alessandro Valori);
H. Davies, Cheltenham Looker-On, Autumn 1842;
H. Davies, Hours in the Picture Gallery of Thirlestane House, Cheltenham: Being notices of some of the principal paintings in Lord Northwick's collection, Cheltenham 1843, p. 13, cat. no. 18 (as Raphael); 
H. Ulmann, Sandro Botticelli, Munich 1893, pp. 123, 152 (as Workshop of Botticelli);
G.N. Plunkett, Sandro Botticelli, London 1900, p. 101 (as Workshop of Botticelli);
L. Cust, in Les Arts, October, 1907, p. 26;
H.P. Horne, Alessandro Filipepi, commonly called Sandro Botticelli, painter of Florence. Appendix III : catalogue of the works of Sandro Botticelli, and of his disciples and imitators, together with notices of those erroneously attributed to him, in the public and private collections of Europe and America, Ms. 1908, Florence 1987, cat. no. 68 (as Botticelli "during his middle period," in the collection of Robert H. Benson);
A. Venturi, Storia dell'arte italiana, Milan 1911, vol. VII, part I, p. 642 and 697, under note 1 (as School of Botticelli);
T, Borenius, Catalogue of Italian pictures at 16, South Street, Park Lane, London and Buckhurst in Sussex; collected by Robert and Evelyn Benson, London 1914, p. 49, cat. no. 26 (as School of Botticelli);
A. Venturi, Storia dell'arte italiana, Milan 1925, vol. VII, part I, p. 118 (as Attributed to Botticelli)
G. Fiocco, "A newly discovered tondo by Botticelli," in The Burlington Magazine, LVIII, October 1930, pp. 153-54 (as Botticelli);
"Masterpiece is Discovered," in The Cincinnati Enquirer, 23 October 1930 (as Botticelli);
R. van Marle, "The School of Botticelli," in The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting, The Hague 1931, p. 233 (as School of Botticelli, known only through photographs);
R. Salvini, Tutta la pittura del Botticelli, Milan 1958, vol. II, p. 73, reproduced plate 133B (as Workshop of Botticelli, very high quality, possibly based on a design by the master, dating to circa 1487); 
M. Levey and G. Mandel, The Complete Paintings of Botticelli, London 1970, p. 99, cat. no. 90 (as "a high quality work" by Botticelli);
C. Bo and G. Mandel, L'opera completa del Botticelli, Milan 1978, p. 99, cat. no. 90 (as Botticelli);
R. Lightbown, Sandro Botticelli, Complete Catalogue, London and Berkeley 1978, vol. II, p. 133, cat. no. C31, (as Workshop of Botticelli) and possibly p. 217, cat. no. G13 (under Lost Works);
N. Pons, Botticelli, Catalogo completo, Milan 1989, p. 74, cat. no. 72, reproduced fig. 72 (as Workshop of Botticelli);
Possibly F. Bocchi, T. Frangenberg and R. Williams (eds.), The Beauties of the Cities of Florence, A Guidebook of 1591, London 2006, pp. 173-174 (as 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. The paint layers are in good condition overall, free of significant losses aside from two long, slim strips of retouching associated with old, diagonal cracks. Otherwise, the restoration found throughout is restrained and is for the most part limited to small losses. A fair amount of retouching is found in Mary's blue mantle, applied to address the slightly dappled appearance that results from past cleaning. The remaining general, cleaning-related wear has been left alone; a different approach to the restoration of this painting might address this wear to smooth the transitions. The synthetic varnish has a low, even gloss level and adequately saturates the paints. A few small patches of aged varnish have become cloudy but could possibly be revived to increase their transparency. The wood panel support is planar, with some cracks having developed with the grain, which lies at an angle approximately 20° clockwise. The panel has been thinned and the entire back has been covered with narrow strips of wood adhered following the direction of the grain. Perpendicular to this reinforcement, seven wood crossbars have been attached. Although some amount of the restoration is slightly off-color, the painting shows no urgent need for cleaning and 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 elegant Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist and an Angel is likely identifiable as the lost painting noted in the Florentine collection of Baccio Valori by Francesco Bocchi in 1591 (see Provenance and Literature). Bocchi describes the painting as, "Tondo molto grande, doue di mano di Sandro Botticelli è dipinta vna Madonna, che ha il puttino in collo di leggiardo colorito. È di aria nobile la Vergine, & il figliuolo altresi: & due Angeli in graziosa vista, & lieta sono di vero bellissimi, & molto rari.  Due vasi di rose, le quali mostrano mirabil freschezza, accendono fi letizia chi mira, & il colorito nel tutto vago rende questa pittura nobile & rara" ("a very large tondo by Sandro Botticelli, in which is painted, with lovely coloring, a Madonna with the Child in her arms.  The Virgin has an air of nobility and so does the Child: the two angels of graceful and joyous countenance, are truly most beautiful and fine.  Two vases filled with roses, which seem to be wonderfully fresh, galdden whoever looks at them, and the coloring, lovely throughout, makes this picture distinguished and precious.").1

Viewing the painting under Infrared (fig. 1) reveals changes in the underdrawing.  This is evidence that, rather simply than following a cartoon, the artist was thinking and evolving the the composition as he painted.  The position of Saint John the Baptist's head has shifted slightly from the drawing to the finished painted version, the placement of the fingers on his right hand were altered, and the Christ Child's arm was moved marginally and more convincingly foreshortened.

As Nicoletta Pons notes in her 1989 monograph of the artist (see Literature), this composition is loosely derived from Botticelli's Madonna of the Pomegranate, in the Galeria degli Uffizi, Florence (fig. 2).The Uffizi panel, also a tondo, dates to 1487 and depicts the Madonna in a similar pose, at the center of the composition, her head tilted to the right, her right hand deftly holding the Child in her lap. The Child, however, leans to the left side in that painting and the Madonna is accompanied by a host of angels, rather than an angel and Saint John the Baptist as in the present panel.

Another version of the present tondo can be found in the National Museum, Warsaw (inv. no. M.06.607) and formerly belonged to the Ingenheim family of Reisewitz.The Warsaw tondo follows the present composition, varying only objects on the ledge in the foreground to the right. The bowl of wild strawberries is instead replaced by a white leather-bound book and white cloth.  A further version is in the Art Institute of Akron, Ohio and Ronald Lightbown cites a third, without referencing its location, known through photographic archives at the Villa I Tatti, Florence (see N. Pons and R. Lightbown under Literature).

We are grateful to Laurence Kanter for endorsing the attribution and suggesting a dating to the 1490s on the basis of firsthand inspection.

1. Translation from F. Bocchi, 2006, under Literature.
2. N. Pons, under Literature, p. 74, cat. no. 69.
3. Ibid., p. 74, under cat. no. 72.