Lot 1
  • 1

Álvaro Pires de Évora, called Alvaro Portoghese

150,000 - 250,000 USD
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  • Álvaro Pires de Évora, called Alvaro Portoghese
  • The Annunciation
  • tempera and gold ground, on panel
  • 12 by 8 5/8 in.; 30.5 by 22 cm.


In the collection of the family of Heinz Kisters (1912-1977), Kreuzlingen, Switzerland;
By whom sold to Chancellor Konrad Adenauer (1876–1967);
By descent to Adenauer's heirs, by whom sold back to Heinz Kisters;
His sale ('Collection formed by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, the property of Heinz Kisters’), London, Christies, 26 June 1970, lot 16, where unsold;
Thence by descent to the present owner.


Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie, Meisterwerke aus Baden-Wüttenbergischen Privatbesitz, 9 October 1958 - 10 January 1959, no. 9;
Arquivos Nacionais Torre do Tombo, Lisbon, Álvaro Pires de Évora : um pintor português na Itália do Quattrocento, 3 February - 3 April 1994, no. X. 


Staatsgalerie, Meisterwerke aus Baden-Württembergischen Privatbesitz, exh. cat., Stuttgart 1958, p. 13, cat. no. 9, reproduced fig. 83;
H. Kisters, Adenauer als Kunstsammler, Munich 1970, p. 42, reproduced p. 43;
F. Zeri, ‘Qualche Appunto Su Alvaro Pirez’, in Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, 1973, p. 192, reproduced p. 193, fig. 5;
R. Fremantle, Florentine Gothic painter. From Giotto to Massacio. A guide to painting in and near Florence 1300 to 1450, London 1975, p. 436, reproduced fig. 899;
M.S. Frinta, 'A new work by Alvaro Pirez', in Bulletin du Musée National du Varsovie, vol. XVII, 1976, no. 2, p. 35;
F. Todini, 'Alvaro Pirez d'Evora', in AKL – Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon. Die bildenden Künstler aller Zeiten und Volker, 1986, vol. II, p. 480-81;
M. Tazartes, 'Alvaro Pirez d'Evora', in La pittura in Italia. Il Quattrocento, vol. II, Milan 1987, p. 741;
F. Zeri, Giorno per giorno nella pittura. Scritti sull'arte Toscana dal Trecento al primo Cinquecento, Turin 1991, p. 120, reproduced fig. 181;
A. Tarturferi, 'Alvaro Pirez d'Evora', in M. Boskovits (ed.), The Martello collection. Further paintings, drawings and miniatures, Florence 1992, p. 12;
F. Todini, 'Alvaro Pirez d'Evora', in Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon. Die bildenden Künstler aller Zeiten und Völker, vol. III, Munich and Leipzig 1992, p. 18-19;
P. Dias, 'A fortuna crítica de Álvaro Pires de Évora', in F. Paulino (Ed.), Álvaro Pires de Évora. Um pintor português na Itália do Quattrocento, exh. cat., Lisbon 1994, p. 106, reproduced p. 107, and p. 164, cat. no. 12, reproduced. p. 165; 
G. Freuler, 'Alvaro Pirez', in J.Schoch (Ed.), Engel, Zurich 1999, p. 115;
M. Mrotzek, Alvaro Pirez - ein Maler der Spätgotik in der Toskana, diss., vol. I, Heidelberg 2009, p. 210-212, cat. no. 28;
Das Konstanzer Konzil. 1414–1418: Weltereignis des Mittelalters, exhibition catalogue, Karlsruhe 2014, pp. 72, cat. no. 5, reproduced.


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 painting appears to be in good condition overall. Retouching visible under ultraviolet (UV) illumination is limited to two losses in the red lake glazes enhanced with a sgraffito pattern to the right of Mary, and small losses in the red lake glazes used for Mary's dress; these retouches correspond to textural variations. Age-related darkening of the paint has occurred in Mary's blue mantle, affecting the readability of the modeling in the garment. A strongly fluorescing natural resin varnish coats the surface of the picture. While it is possible further restoration exists beneath the varnish, the paint appears to be well preserved. Wear and scratches are found in the gold ground between the two figures. The panel displays a mild convex lateral warp with an old vertical crack near the center of the panel, interrupting the curve. The reverse of the panel has been painted to mimic porphyry. Putty applied to repair the crack on the back has been retouched to match the painted stone texture.
"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 small panel, meant for private devotion, was probably once the left wing of a diptych.1 Zeri first dated this Annunciation to Alvaro's later years between 1430 and 1434. As Mrotzek notes, this mature period is marked by a significantly increased observation of small details and decoration, and of the individualized physiognomy of his figures. Mrotzek recognizes the present Annunciation as one of Alvaro's highest quality works.2 Zeri notes that the figure of the Madonna Annunciate reveals the significant influence of Lorenzo Monaco, while the wings of the angel appear to be a direct quote from Simone Martini's Annunciation in the Uffizi, Florence.3 Alvaro was born in Portugal, and believed to have perhaps trained in Valencia. He is thought to be the artist Vasari calls 'Alvaro di Piero, a Portugese' and describes as painting in Volterra and Pisa at the same time as Taddeo di Bartolo, under whose biography the mention of Alvaro appears.4

1. Whereabouts of a right hand panel of the original diptych is unrecorded.
2. See Mrotzek 2009, p. 212.
3. See Zeri, 1973, p. 364.
4. G. Vasari, Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects, translated by Gaston du C. de Vere, republished London 1996, vol. I, p. 235.