Lot 101
  • 101

Attributed to Ambrosius Benson

30,000 - 50,000 USD
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  • Ambrosius Benson
  • Madonna and Child
  • oil on panel


Yves Georges Prade (1904-1992);
Thence by descent. 


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 very good condition. It has not been recently restored. There is no apparent abrasion or instability. The panel is made from a single piece of oak and is flat. There are no reinforcements on the reverse. There are a few very isolated losses in the faces, hands and breast. The dirt layer is quite visibly opaque in the darker colors, and this is a picture which certainly will respond well to cleaning.
"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

The author of this tightly-drawn depiction of the Virgin nursing the Christ child would appear to be by an artist close to Ambrosius Benson, one of the leading figures in Bruges in the first half of the 16th century. Indeed, the beautifully modeled yet stylized features of the Virgin’s face recall the Bruges school at large, but specifically a number of similar works associated with Benson’s output circa 1530, for example a work recently rediscovered and sold in these rooms, 27 January 2016, lot 16.

Benson's style evolved in Bruges amidst a highly developed and collaborative artistic environment. He is recorded there as early as 1518, when he entered Gerard David’s studio, which served as the training ground and source of inspiration for a plethora of painters who formed part of a great generation of Bruges artists. Contemporaneously with his main competitor, Adriaen Isenbrandt, Benson rose to European prominence alongside a number of successful painters, including Jan Provost, Albrecht Cornelis and Lancelot Blondeel, among others.

The composition of this specific Virgin and Child, in which the Christ Child wears a white garment and holds a sprig of flowers, appears to derive more closely from a group of works associated with Joos van Cleve and his workshop.1  Ultimately, though, the prime source for the figural group originates from Gerard David’s Rest on the Flight Into Egypt (Museo del Prado, Madrid, inv. no. P02643).

IRR examination of this panel (fig. 1) not only illustrates a beautiful and well-articulated preparatory underdrawing for the Virgin and Child, but also shows a looser reworking of the still-life elements in the lower right foreground. 

1.  See J. O. Hand, Joos van Cleve, New Haven 2004, pp. 176-177, cat. nos. 101.1-101.9.