Lot 2
  • 2

Sienese School, 14th Century

Estimate
80,000 - 120,000 USD
Sold
100,000 USD
bidding is closed

Description

  • The Madonna and Child
  • tempera on panel, gold ground, in an engaged frame
  • 18 1/2  by 13 5/8  in.; 46.8 by 34.7 cm.

Provenance

Bruno Canto, Milan;
In the present collection since at least 1963.

Literature

B. Berenson, Homeless Paintings of the Renaissance, London 1970, p. 27, reproduced fig. 23 (as Sienese School, circa 1380); 
S. Padovani, "Sulla traccia di Cristoforo di Bindoccio e Meo di Pero," in Bollettino d'arte, series VI, vol. XV, p. 90, reproduced fig. 60 (as Cristoforo di Bindoccio e Meo di Pero).

Catalogue Note

This Madonna and Child once formed part of a diptych, paired with a Man of Sorrows (fig. 1), formerly in the Horace Buttery collection, London, but whose current whereabouts is unknown.  It was first published by Bernard Berenson in 1930, who considered it the work of an anonymous Sienese master dating to circa 1380 (see Literature).  Serena Padovani included it her 1982 article, this time alongside its mate, and proposed an attribution to two Sienese painters, Cristoforo di Bindoccio and Meo di Pero (see Literature).  Padovani compared the painting to a small set of saints among the fresco decorations in the Ospedale di Santa Maria della Scala, Siena, where the names of both artists are included in an inscription.1  Federico Zeri recorded the panel in his archive in 1963, likewise noting its correspondence with the Christ panel and attributing them to Bindoccio and di Pero.2  In her 1982 article, Padovani reproduced an old photograph, taken prior to the painting’s restoration, which is visible in the image from before 1963 conserved by Zeri.  From the earlier photograph, it appears the faces of both figures have been remodeled and softened, the line of the white linen veil has been brought closer to the Virgin's right cheek and the borders of Christ's drapery and the lining of the Virgin's mantle have been altered.

The accompanying Man of Sorrows is slightly smaller than the present painting, measuring 15 7/8  by 10 7/8  in.; 40.5 by 27.8 cm., but from the photographs it appears to have been trimmed along at least two of its edges.  Where the elaborately punched border remains intact, at the right side of the panel, it is instantly recognizable as matching that of the present painting.  At the edges, the artist(s) employed a large, six-petaled flower punch, alternated with a tulip motif, flanked by small circles at either side and surrounded by dots.  It is the tulip motif, alternately impressed upside down and right-way up, which is of particular interest.  The tool appears to have originated in the Lorenzetti workshop and was used by Ambrogio in his celebrated Maestà of 1335, in the Museo d’Arte Sacra, Massa Marittima, and by Pietro in the halos of the lateral saints to his Madonna and Child, with the Blessing Christ of circa 1340, in the National Gallery, Washington DC (inv. no. 1941.5.1.a and 1941.5.1.c).How that punch fell into the hands of this master decades later remains a mystery.  One hypothesis, however, is that the panels and their tooled decoration could in fact be earlier and were then re-purposed by the present artist, who painted the figures later in the century.

We are grateful to Professors Gaudenz Freuler, Andrea De Marchi and Laurence Kanter for their invaluable assistance in the cataloguing of this lot.

 

1. For the saints see S. Padovani, under Literature, p. 89-90, reproduced figs. 4-6.
2. Fondazione Federico Zeri online archive, Università di Bologna, entry nos. 7510 and 7509.
3. E. Skaug, Punch Marks from Giotto to Fra Angelico, Oslo 1994, vol. I, p. 226, 230, nos. 7.4-7.5, vol. II, nos. 7.4-7.5.

Close