Lot 4
  • 4

Circle of Raffaello Sanzio, called Raphael

40,000 - 60,000 GBP
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  • Raffaello Sanzio, called Raphael
  • The Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John in a landscape
  • oil on panel, reduced


Possibly Lucien Bonaparte, Prince of Canino and Musignano (1775–1840);

Possibly his mother Maria-Letizia Ramolino, 'Madame Mère de l'Empereur' (1750–1836), Rome by 1829;

John Talbot, 16th Earl of Shrewsbury (1791–1852), Alton Towers, Staffordshire, and possibly among the paintings purchased in Rome by him from the above in 1829;

Bertram Arthur Talbot, 17th Earl of Shrewsbury (1832–1856), Alton Towers, Staffordshire;

His posthumous sale, London, Christie's, Third Day's sale, 8 July 1857, lot 265 ('Raffaelle: the Virgin, in a red dress and blue cloak, kneeling in a landscape, and holding a book') for £220. 10s to King;

There acquired by William Schomberg Robert Kerr, 8th Marquess of Lothian (1832–1870), Newbattle Abbey, Dalkeith;

By descent to Schomberg Henry Kerr, 9th Marquess of Lothian (1833–1890);

Thence by descent.


London, Royal Academy, 1885, no. 214 (as school of Raphael and lent by the Marquess of Lothian).


G. Redford, Art Sales, vol. I, London 1828, p. 154;

G. Waagen, Works of Art and Artists in England, London 1838, vol. III, p. 250 (as not by Raphael and possibly by Mariotto Albertinelli?);

G. Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain, London 1854, vol. III, p. 382 (as Albertinelli?);

Newbattle Abbey inventory, May 1878, no. 567 (Lady Lothian's Room);

Newbattle Abbey inventory, 21 May 1900, no. 567 (Lady Lothian's Room);

B. Berenson, The Central Italian Painters of the Renaissance, New York 1909, p. 211 as at Newbattle (as Girolamo del Pacchia);

A. Graves, A Century of Loan Exhibitions, vol. III, London 1914, p. 997;

Monteviot House inventory, 14 July 1989, no. 567 (South Bedroom).


The support consists of a single thick plank, which is strengthened on the reverse by a single horizontal baton just beneath the halfway point. The panel has a slight convex boy and there are a few old splits at the upper margin, which however have not extended far beyond the top of the painting. The painting is extremely dirty with much old dirt and varnish engrained. There is some pronounced craquelure in certain areas, particularly in the lower regions of the sky. The paint surface in general is very well preserved indeed and any interventions are very old and apparent to the naked eye. There are for example some old retouchings to a short split in the sky immediately above the Virgin's head and to another to its right (this latter is affected by some lifting, which requires consolidation), and in the upper right corner and sporadically through the Virgin's blue mantle. These are but minor imperfections to a paint surface that is in general in a good state of preservation. Sold in a probably early nineteenth century cassetta gilt frame.
"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.

Catalogue Note

This panel has been attributed to various Tuscan masters over the last two centuries and a firm identification of its author remains elusive today. Its evident quality is best seen in the beautifully modelled drapery of the Madonna's robe and softly modelled face. It has been in the Lothian collection for over 150 years and before that possibly belonged to Napoleon's brother Lucien. 

According to Redford, writing after the great Alton Towers sale of 1857, this picture was probably among a group of pictures bought by John, 16th Earl of Shrewsbury from Napoleon's mother, all of which had previously belonged to Napoleon's brother Lucien, Prince of Canino (1775–1840). Although it was sold as a Raphael, when Waagen saw the painting at Alton Towers in 1835 he had already noted that it was 'erroneously ascribed to Raphael' and tentatively suggested an attribution to Albertinelli, remarking that '...from the less solid impasto, [it was] certainly of the Florentine school, in the style of one of its best masters'. At the sale or perhaps afterwards it was acquired with a group of other Italian pictures by the 8th Marquess of Lothian, whose wife, Lady Constance Chetwynd-Talbot, was a distant cousin of the Shrewsburys. At £220 the Raphael was the highest price paid for a painting at the sale, where the pictures fetched a total of £12,940. Certainly the style of the painting accorded well with Lord Lothian's predilection for works of the Florentine and Umbrian schools, though he also acquired some notable works of the Venetian School from his trips to Italy. One such work, for example, was Bonifazio Veronese's enormous Return of the Prodigal Son, also from Alton Towers, and now in a private collection.1

Despite its evident qualities, an attribution for this panel has proved elusive. The marked influence of Raphael and Fra Bartolomeo suggest that it was most probably painted in Florence in the early sixteenth-century. The beautifully modelled draperies and the delicate hands suggest that its author was familiar with the early work of both masters, such as Fra Bartolomeo's Holy Family in the Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milan.2 Waagen was the first to note these stylistic traits and tentatively suggested that it might be the work of Fra Bartolomeo's closest associate Mariotto Albertinelli (1474–1515). At the beginning of the last century Berenson proposed an attribution to the Sienese painter Girolamo del Pacchia (1477–1535), whose work also reflects the influences of Raphael and Fra Bartolomeo as well as Sodoma. On the basis of photograhs Everett Fahy suggested an alternative attribution to Niccolò Soggi (1474/80–1552), a pupil of Perugino who worked in Florence, Rome and Arezzo (private communication November 2000) but the work is not included in Nicoletta Baldini's recent monograph on the artist. 

1. Exhibited, Edinburgh, National Galleries of Scotland, The Age of Titian. Venetian Renaissance Art from Scottish Collections, 2004, no. 49.

2. Inv. 3491. Exhibited Florence, Palazzo Pitti and Museo di San Marco, L'età di Savanarola. Fra Bartolomeo e la scuola di San Marco, 1996, no. 13.