Lot 10
  • 10

Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio

80,000 - 120,000 USD
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  • Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio
  • The Holy Family with the annunciation to the shepherds beyond
  • oil on panel


Prince Alexis Orloff, Saint Petersburg;
His Estate sale, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, 29-30 April 1920, lot 27, for 5,100 francs to (as attributed to Franciabigio);
There acquired by C.S. Mori, Paris;
The Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Foundation;
By whom sold, New York, Parke-Bernet Galleries, 21 February 1945, lot 37 (as Tommaso di Stefano Lunetti);
There acquired by a private collector;
By whose family sold ("Property of a Private Collector, New York"), New York, Sotheby's, 10 January 1991, lot 16 (as Tommaso di Stefano Lunetti). 


E. Bénézit, Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des peintres, sculpteurs, dessinateurs et graveurs, Paris 1956, vol. V, p. 63 (as Franciabigio)
B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Florentine School, London 1963, vol. I, p. 208, reproduced vol. II, plate 1357 (as Tommaso di Stefano Lunetti);
S.R. McKillop, Franciabigio, London 1974, p. 219 (as attributed to Franciabigio, under "Untraceable Paintings").


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This work is in extremely good condition. The panel has been thinned and cradled. The paint layer is stable. Under ultraviolet light, one can only see a very few retouches. There are retouches in Joseph's cheek, and a few little spots in the right side of Mary's neck. A few tiny vertical cracks have been retouched in the cow on the far right, between Joseph and Mary, and in the sky on the left and upper center. The painting is well restored and could be hung in its current condition.
"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 delightful Nativity scene was identified by Andrea De Marchi as the work of the Florentine painter, Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio. At the time of its sale in 1991 (see Provenance) the painting was erroneously catalogued as by Tommaso di Stefano Lunetti, most likely due to the existence of an almost identical composition with that attribution, formerly in the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.1

Son of the much-celebrated Domenico Ghirlandaio, Ridolfo likely received his initial training under his father.  Aged just eleven at the time of Domenico’s death in 1494, Ridolfo was too young to take on his father’s workshop but continued to work under the guidance of his uncle, Davide, who took over as head of the atelier. Such was Ridolfo’s skill, however, that from the turn of the 16th century, numerous works commissioned from Davide were instead entrusted to the younger artist for execution, such as the Saints Peter and Paul of 1503 in Palazzo Pitti, Florence and the Virgin of the Sacred Girdle of 1509 in Prato Cathedral.2 

According to Giorgio Vasari, Ridolfo studied with Fra Bartolommeo and the influence of that artist is certainly apparent in the present painting, in the cool, dry landscape and slender, sparsely leafed trees.  The host of angels, holding aloft a banderole and hovering in the upper section, is reminiscent of the slightly larger group included in Ridolfo’s Holy Family with Saints Francis and Jerome in the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg (fig. 1; inv. no. ET-89). 

We are grateful to Andrea De Marchi for proposing the attribution and to David Franklin for endorsing it on the basis of photographs.

1. The Santa Barbara painting was later deaccessioned and sold London, Sotheby's, 9 December 1987, lot 121.
2. A. Muzzi, “Ghirlandaio Ridolfo,” in J. Turner (ed.), The Dictionary of Art, London and New York 1996, pp. 556-557.