Demetrio Tolosani, Florence, first half 20th century
S. Bargellini, Antiquari di ieri a Firenze, 1981 (illustrated)
This calm Annunciation group has been given to Antonino Gagini by Alfredo Bellandi. Antonino was a talented third generation member of the important Lombard family of sculptors who operated in Sicily in the late 15th and 16th centuries. In his expertise, Alfredo Bellandi highlights the conceptual similarity with the Annunciation by Antonino's father Antonello Gagini (1478 - 1536), now in the Museo Civico, Erice: in particular in the folds of drapery and in the poses. Antoninio worked with his father at the Tribuna of the Duomo at Palermo between 1510 and 1570 and the two opened a workshop in the city, from where they exported sculpture throughout Sicity and Calabria. Noting that, throughout his career Antonino was indebted to his father's style, he points out that the Archangel Gabriel wears the same garb as an angel from the Altar of the Duomo in Palermo, attributed to the workshop of Antonello. Bellandi compares the present Annunciation with the Annunciation made by Antonino and Giacomo Gagini in 1545 for the church of Saint Oliva, Trapani. The naturalism and the faces are close to those of the Madonna con bambino in the Museo Nazionale di Messina by Antonello Gagini. Bellandi further observes the similarity in facial type between the present Virgin and Antonino's St Michael in the Abbey of Alcamo.
The present marbles were probably commissioned for a private chapel, an altar or a portal of the palace of an aristocratic Sicilian family. They were formerly in the collection of the distinguished connoisseur and art dealer Demetrio Tolosani, who was active in Florence in the first half of the 20th century, and played a seminal role in the international Anglo-American art market at the time. Close to Elia Volpi and to the dealer Stefano Bardini, he reached the top of his career when he furnished 'La Capponcina', the Capponi family villa at Settignano, where Gabriele D’Annunzio lived between 1898 and 1910.
Alfredo Bellandi's expertise, together with comparative images, is available upon request.
Overall the condition of the marbles is good, with minor dirt and wear to the surface consistent with age. There are a few minor scratches and abrasions, particularly at the high points. There are also a few small chips, including to the Virgin's terrasse and the drapery on her proper right side, to the Angel's little toe of the proper right foot, his little finger of the proper left hand, his terrasse, and a possible larger loss to the back left corner of the Angel's terrasse. There is some plaster residue in areas, particularly at the backs, which are roughly hewn. There is some rubbing at the high points, notably the noses, and there is also a small chip to the tip of the Angel's nose. There are a few minor dirt marks, particularly to the Virgin, including some wax residue. There is some light veining to the marble in areas, consistent with the material, including to the Angel's proper right leg. "In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."