Otto von Wesendonck (see under Provenance) was an active collector from the late 1850s until his death in 1896. He was a silk merchant and lived in an Italianate villa in Zurich, which now houses the Rietberg Museum. He was a major patron of Richard Wagner, who in 1857–58 pursued a passionate affair with Wesendonck's wife Mathilde, a distinguished poet. He started buying Old Masters in the winter of 1859–60 when he sojourned in Rome, and by 1867 he was buying Dutch and Flemish pictures at auction in Paris; in 1876 he bought heavily in the Wynn-Ellis sale in London. A catalogue of his collection in Dresden, including works of all the major schools (among them the present work), was published in 1881, and a catalogue of his collection in Berlin, heavily weighted towards Dutch masters, was published there in 1888. In 1909 a large part of his collection – some 223 pictures in all – was lent by his heirs to the Rheinisches Landesmuseum in Bonn, including a Pieter Brueghel the Younger, a triptych by Jan Mostaert, a small copper by Elsheimer, an Esaias Boursse and a Jan van Goyen.
We are grateful to Professor Humfrey for his endorsement of this painting's attribution to Bonifacio and his workshop, and for his assistance in the cataloguing of this lot.
1. B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance, Venetian School, vol. I, London 1957, pp. 41–45.
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