Lot 112
  • 112

Giannicola di Paolo

30,000 - 40,000 USD
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  • Giannicola di Paolo
  • The Madonna and Child in a landscape
  • oil on panel, unframed


Bruno Canto, Milan;
In the present collection since at least 1963.


F. Todini, La pittura umbra dal Duecento al primo Cinquecento, Milan 1989, vol. I, p. 79, reproduced vol. II, p. 593, fig. 1375 (as a youthful work).


The following condition report has been provided by Karen Thomas of Thomas Art Conservation LLC., 336 West 37th Street, Suite 830, New York, NY 10018, 212-564-4024, info@thomasartconservation.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This picture presents a pleasing appearance even with its current dirty and mottled surface that distracts the eye from the strengths of the picture. Darkened restoration paint throughout the picture is most noticeable as spots in the light flesh tones and the blue sky and as brownish material along the join down the center of the panel. Wear in the glazes used for modeling the flesh, particularly in the child's body, has been addressed with retouching that is less obvious, even under ultraviolet illumination. Along the top and bottom edges, passages of retouching suggest the presence of moderately sized losses. Drying cracks, a common aging phenomenon, have developed in the red lake glazes of Mary's dress, leading to some toning in the shadows. The wood panel support is comprised of two vertically grained boards and has been thinned, with a cradle attached to the reverse. A compound warp has developed, the join has begun to open and a few areas of detachment of the paint are found along the top edge. Cracks in the panel are found to the right of the child's head, to the left of the Madonna's chin, and through the right side of Mary's face. Structural intervention is recommended to address the cracks in the panel and to prevent further issues from developing. The lifting paint is vulnerable to loss and should be set back into place by a conservator. Cleaning to remove the distracting discolored retouching and brown accretions would improve the tonality overall. With proper retouching the appearance of this painting would markedly improve.
"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 graceful Madonna and Child is a youthful work by Giannicola di Paolo, one of the foremost painters in Perugia in the early Cinquecento.  The artist was employed in the workshop of Perugino, with whom he collaborated on numerous works, including the Last Supper in the church of Sant’Onofrio, Florence.  Later, as an independent painter, he set up a workshop in Piazza del Sopramura, the same square occupied by that of his former master, and his style remained heavily influenced by Perugino throughout his career.1  Evidence of pouncing in the execution of some paintings, such as the Annunciation attributed to Giannicola in the National Gallery, London (inv. no. NG1104), suggest that Perugino’s cartoons were freely accessible to him.  

Rather than directly copying Perugino’s paintings, the artist likely made his own drawings from his master’s modelli while working in his studio.  For example, the design of Giannicola’s impressive Ognissanti altarpiece of 1506, now in the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, Perugia (inv. no. 323), derives from Perugino’s San Pietro Ascension composition, though the figures are different, suggesting they are of his own invention.  Similarly, while the present Madonna is not a direct copy, the composition is evidently based on the central figures from the Madonna and Child attributed to Perugino in the Galleria Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples.Rather than show the figures full length, Giannicola ends the composition at the Madonna’s knees and excludes the figures in the background.  The Christ Child is heavily reliant on Perugino’s design, while the face of the Virgin is painted very much in Giannicola’s own idiom.  The features are sweeter and less linear and the flesh appears softer and rounder.


1. C. Higgitt, M. Spring, A. Reeve and L. Syson, ‘Working with Perugino: The Technique of an Annunciation attributed to Giannicola di Paolo,” in National Gallery Technical Bulletin, Renaissance Siena and Perugia 1490-151, vol. 27, 2006, p. 99.
2. Ibid.
3. C. Castellaneta and E. Camesasca, L’opera completa del Perugino, Milan 1969, p. 122, cat, no. 259, reproduced.