Lot 144
  • 144

Bonifacio de' Pitati called Bonifazio Veronese and Workshop

80,000 - 120,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Bonifacio de' Pitati called Bonifazio Veronese and Workshop
  • Holy Family with Saints James Major, Jerome and Catherine of Alexandria
  • oil on canvas


Otto Friedrich Ludwig Wesendonck (1815–1896), Dresden, Zürich and Berlin, by 1881, inv. no. 40;
His widow, (Agnes) Mathilde Wesendonck, née Luckemeyer (1828–1902);
By inheritance to their daughter Myrrha, Freiin von Bissing, who married General Moritz Freiherr von Bissing (1844–1917), Bonn;
On loan to the Provinzialmuseum, Bonn (inv. no. 15), from 1907, and acquired by them in 1925;
By whom sold ('Westdeutscher Museumsbeistz, Sammlung Wesendonk-von Bissing'), Cologne, Lempertz, 27 November 1935, lot 9, reproduced plate 8;
Anonymous sale, Cologne, Lempertz, 22 November 1973, lot 262;
Private collection, Bonn;
Thence by descent to the present owner.


On loan to Provinzialmuseum, Bonn, from 1907.


Gemälde-Sammlung von Otto Wesendonck in Dresden, Dresden 1881, pp. 8–9, no. 12 (with manuscript valuation at 4,000 Reichsmarks);
F. Harck, ‘Quadri di maestri italiani in possesso di privati a Berlino’, in Archivio Storico dell’Arte, II, 1889, p. 211;
W. Cohen, ‘Die Sammlung Wesendonck’, in Zeitschrift für Bildende Kunst, N.F.XXI, 1909, p. 66, reproduced p. 67, fig. no. 10;
W. Cohen, Katalog der Gemäldegalerie, vorwiegend Sammlung Wesendonk, Bonn 1914, p. 13, cat. no. 15, reproduced pl. 92, fig. 15;
D. Westphal, Bonifazio Veronese, Munich 1931, pp. 86–87, cat. no. 13 (under incorrectly attributed works);
P. Cottrell and P. Humfrey, Bonifacio de’ Pitati, Treviso 2017 (forthcoming, as the work of Bonifacio and workshop).

Catalogue Note

Bonifacio produced many sacre conversazioni during the course of his career. This type of composition was enormously popular in early sixteenth-century Venice; leading practitioners included Titian and Palma Vecchio. Bernard Berenson lists nine compositions with sacre conversazioni by Bonifacio.1 Increasing public demand meant the inevitable assistance of the master's workshop, as seen here. Prof. Peter Humfrey dates this canvas to the mid- to late 1530s; its pictorial quality is on a level with Bonifacio's best and most characteristic works of this period.

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.