Lot 8
  • 8

Francesco Ubertini, called Bachiacca

70,000 - 90,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Francesco Ubertini, called Bachiacca
  • The flagellation
  • oil on panel


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 panel is unreinforced. It does show some fillings on the reverse, perhaps to cover some small holes. The panel is flat and the paint layer is stable. The work is clean and nicely restored. Under ultraviolet light, one can see a few isolated retouches in the figure of Christ and in the male with the whip to his left. There are a few spots of retouching in the pale wall on the far left. There is a restored circular loss of about 2 ½ inches in diameter in the left side of the sky and in the shadowed side of the large building here. The reason for this is unknown, but the restoration is impressive and the work should be hung as is.
"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

Previously unpublished, this exquisite little panel depicting the Flagellation is a new addition to the corpus of Francesco d’Ubertini, known as Bacchiacca.  The high quality of its execution suggests it was painted toward the mid-16th century, late in the career of the Florentine Mannerist, who died in 1557.

The painting relates to another Flagellation given to Bacchiacca, in the Kress collection at the National Gallery, Washington (fig. 1; inv. no. 1952.5.81).  The Washington picture portrays only the three central figures, those of Christ and the two soldiers, and sets them instead within an architectural backdrop with a landscape beyond. Robert G. La France included the Washington Flagellation in his 2008 monograph as a work from Perugino’s studio, possibly by Bacchiacca’s elder brother, Bartolomeo d’Ubertino Verdi.1 Bartolomeo was active in Perugino’s workshop and also collaborated on works with his more celebrated younger brother, Francesco. 

La France notes that the open-mouthed flagellant at the left side of the Washington panel, who also appears in the present painting, corresponds with the Egyptian soldier at the left-hand edge of Bacchiacca’s Stories from the Life of Joseph: Joseph Revealing his Identity, in the National Gallery, London (inv. no. 1219).2 La France dates the London panel to the artist’s youth, circa 1515-1518, and believes it to be predated by the Washington panel.  Comparing the figures of the Washington flagellant and the London soldier, he notes that the soldier “is less precisely formed, its anatomy misunderstood, and the figure is more heavily draped to hide these infelicities.”3 He concludes, therefore, that the London soldier was likely derived from the figure in the earlier Washington painting. The case could not be more different for the corresponding figure in the present painting, however.  Executed decades later, the flagellant is draped only in a loin cloth and is more akin in quality to that of the Washington painting.  The anatomy, while fashionably elongated, is perfectly understood, the musculature beautifully defined and the complex articulation of the figures in motion beautifully expressed.

1. R.G. La France, Bacchiacca, Artist of the Medici Court, Florence 2008, pp. 280-281, cat. no. 121, reproduced, fig. 84.
2. Ibid., pp. 150-151, cat. no., 13, reproduce plate XII.
3. Ibid., p. 281.