PROPERTY FROM A COLLECTION FORMED BY SAAM AND LILY NYSTAD
By whom given in 1950 in honour of her late husband and her mother the Hon. Mrs Ives, to the Gedenkmuseum Phillimore Ives, Stellenbosch, Republic of South Africa, where housed in Phillimore House (formerly Grosvenor House);
The donation anulled in 1961 under the terms of the deed of gift when the Union of South Africa left the British Commonwealth, and with the entire collection returned to the UK and subsequently sold;
Acquired by Saam and Lily Nijstad, The Hague, for their private collection, by 1984;
Thence by inheritance to the present owner.
Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André, Florence, Portraits à la cour des Médicis, 11 September 2015 – 25 January 2016, no. 35 (as Santi di Tito).
C. De Benedictis, Altari e committenza: Episodi a Firenze nell'età della Controriforma, Florence 1996, pp. 11–12, and p. 17, note 12;
V. Arrighi, in Dizionario biografico degli italiani, vol. LI, Rome 1998, pp. 164–65;
P. Costamagna in A. Chong (ed.), Raphael, Cellini & a Renaissance Banker: the patronage of Bindo Altoviti, Boston 2003, p. 345, reproduced figure 185 (as Santi di Tito);
C. Acidini-Luchinat, `Tre madrigali e alcune osservazioni sulla cappella Gaddi nella chiesa di Santa Maria Novella', in Giovanni Antonio Dosio da San Gimignano architetto e scultor fiorentino tra Roma, Firenze e Napoli, Florence 2011, pp. 333–34;
E. Barletti and A. Morrogh, `La `casa dell'orto' di Niccolò Gaddi', in Giovanni Antonio Dosio da San Gimignano architetto e scultor fiorentino tra Roma, Firenze e Napoli, Florence 2011, pp. 471, 486–88, reproduced p. 487;
A. F., in C. Falciani et al., Florence. Portraits à la Cour des Médicis, Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André, exhibition catalogue, Paris 2015, pp. 173, 179, 180, and 194, no. 35, reproduced pp. 168 (detail), 178.
Gaddi had developed a taste for art while buying for Granduca Cosimo I and from there began collecting with vigour, extending his tastes far beyond paintings and sculpture to artefacts, architectural drawings and botany. The galleria lunga in the gardens was lined with sculptures and busts, as seen here, and his collection is said to have been second only to that of the Medici.4 New plants and fruit trees from all over Europe and as far away as Egypt were imported for his beloved botanical gardens, known as the 'Paradiso dei Gaddi', as witnessed by the lemon trees to the right which would have recently arrived from Naples.5 His taste for the exotic is also alluded to with the macaw, which traders from the Americas had begun importing at the beginning of the century, and the jerboa, a leaping mouse known as 'topo delle piramidi' or 'pyramid mouse' due to its prevalence in the Egyptian deserts. De Benedictis proposes that the latter may serve as a symbol for mourning, thereby suggesting that the portrait (possibly painted posthumously) serves as a commemorative work to celebrate the life of Gaddi's daughter, who like all of his children, was not to survive childhood.6 It was Gaddi's express wish, as written in his Will, that the collection should remain intact after his death and that the museum be open to any nobleman passing through Florence who should wish to see it. However, with no heir the collection passed to his nephew and was soon broken up and sold.
The Gaddi family's association with Santi di Tito predates this picture by up to a decade. According to Baldinucci, one of the artist's first important commissions before his trip to Rome was the completion of a large altarpiece of the Epiphany by Sogliani, left unfinished at the latter's death. It was bought by Sinibaldo Gaddi, and given to Santi di Tito to finish, after which it was hung in the Gaddi chapel in the church of S. Domenico at Fiesole. This work must date from between 1554 and 1558, when the artist left for Rome.
This picture has long been associated with the Bronzino school. Called Cristofano Allori when in the Phillimore Ives collection, it was subsequently thought to be by Alessandro Allori. Simona Lecchini Giovannoni was the first to suggest that it might be Santi di Tito in a letter to Saam Nijstad dated 2 June 1985.
We are grateful to Mariena Kotze and Vanessa Phillips for their help in elucidating the Phillimore-Ives provenance and the circumstances of the Stellenbosch gift.
1. She was first identified as Lucrezia by De Benedictis in 1996; see under literature.
2. Exhibited, Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André, 2015–16, nos 36 and 37. Both portraits were recently sold Florence, Pandolfini Casa d'Aste, 21 April 2015, lots 25 and 26 and are now in a Florentine private collection. A portrait of Giovanni Gaddi (1493–1542) traditionally thought to have come from the collection of the Gaddi family was sold London, Sotheby's, 5 December 2012, lot 18. To add to the confusion, Niccolò Gaddi also gave the name Lucrezia to his third child and second daughter, the first by his second wife, who was born in 1588.
3. The renaissance Palazzo Gaddi was pulled down and rebuilt in 1596. That structure still stands, and is now the Hotel Astoria – the small courtyard where breakfast may be taken corresponds to the space depicted here.
4. L'Osservatore Fiorentino Sugli Edifizj [sic] Della Sua Patria, vol. III, 1821, p. 58.
6. See under literature.
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