Lot 10
  • 10

The Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds

400,000 - 600,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • The Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds
  • The Annunciation to the Shepherds;

    The Adoration of the Shepherds

  • a pair, both oil on canvas, octagonal, the reverse with a red wax seal and label bearing the arms of the Guicciardini family
  • each: 123.5 x 97.5 cm.; 48 5/8  x 38 3/8  in.


A member of the Guicciardini family, probably Florence (according to the seal and label on the reverse);
Private collection, UK;
Acquired from the above by the present owner.

Catalogue Note

The Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds was one of the finest and most striking artists active in Naples in the wake of Caravaggio. Clearly working in the close ambit of Jusepe de Ribera his anagraphical identity eludes us,  though his stylistic personality is quite defined:1 very much rooted in the chiaroscuro idiom, his œuvre comprises a homogeneous group of figurative paintings, of which a handful are mythological, some half-length single figure studies, and several treatments of the subject of the Annunciation. Indeed, his name derives from the remarkable Annunciation to the Shepherds in the Birmingham Art Gallery, a picture once thought to be by Velázquez.2 

His interest in the human form, discernible in the studied poses in which he usually portrayed his figures, is matched by a sensitive naturalism found in his approach to texture, particularly the rough fabrics which clothe the protagonists, as well as in his delicate depiction of still-life elements. These interests are perhaps best illustrated in the artist's aforementioned namepiece in Birmingham, as well as his Allegory of the Arts, in the Masaveu Collection, Oviedo, or in his Perseus and Phineas in a Florentine private collection.3 In the present pair this can be seen in the shepherd boy with his back to the viewer in the Adoration, as well as in the delightful smouldering embers and jug in the Annunciation, which can also be found in the Annunciation to the Shepherds formerly in the Piasecka Johnson Collection, sold London, Christie's, 8 July 2014, lot 36, for £2,000,000, the artist's record price at auction. The pose of the putto descending from the sky in the present Adoration is identical to that in the Piasecka Johnson canvas.

1. The numerous attempts to link him with known figures operating in that city, among them Juan Dò, originally from Valencia but active in Naples in the 1620s, and Bartolomeo Passante or Bassante, have so far not been unanimously accepted. 

2. See G. Porzio, La scuola di Ribera, Naples 2014, p. 82, fig. 43, reproduced.

3. See N. Spinosa, Pittura del Seicento a Napoli, Da Caravaggio a Massimo Stanzione, Naples 2010, pp. 333–34, cat. no. 291, reproduced; p. 333, cat. no. 296, reproduced.