PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION
The composition overall exists in a number of replicas and copies, each with slight variations, including one in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh (inv. no. NG 1536), another sold at Sotheby’s London in 2011, and a third formerly with Moretti Gallery, Florence (fig. 2).1 At some point between 1854 and 1921, the Edinburgh painting was cut down on four sides, transforming it from its original tondo into a rectangular format.2 In both the Edinburgh and London paintings the position of the livestock differs from the present painting; the ass stands to the left of the ox and they appear to be deeper into the background. The pose of the Child is also different, as he reaches with both hands towards the Virgin, his legs kicking wide, a reprisal in reverse of the Child in the Bardi altarpiece, in the Staatliche Museen, Berlin (inv. no. 106).3 Closest to the present panel in terms of composition is the ex-Moretti tondo. Though depicted without the delicate, translucent veil, the Child is posed in the same manner, with feet together and touching his left hand to his face. Even in the ex-Moretti tondo, however, there are variations in the background landscape and the livestock appear curiously small in comparison to the foreground figures.
1. For the second Edinburgh painting see R. Lightbown under Literature, op. cit., reproduced fig. C36; for the London tondo see London, Sotheby’s, 8 December 2011, lot 105; for the Florence tondo see L. Bellosi in Moretti, Da Ambrogio Lorenzetti a Sandro Botticelli, (exhibition catalogue), Florence 2003, pp. 172-176, reproduced p. 173 and 176.
2. R. Lightbown, op. cit..
3. For the Bardi altarpiece see R. Lightbown, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 56-57, cat. no. B42, reproduced vol. I, plate 30.
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