Lot 3
  • 3

Agnolo Gaddi

400,000 - 600,000 USD
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  • Agnolo Gaddi
  • Madonna and Child enthroned with music-making angels
  • tempera on panel, gold ground, reduced on all sides
  • 52 by 32 in.; 132.1 by 81.3 cm.


Liechtenstein collection, Vienna, inv. no. 875;
Acquired by the family of the present owner by 1965.


Lucerne, Kunstmuseum Luzern, Meisterwerke aus den Sammlungen des Fürsten von Liechtenstein, 5 June - 31 October 1948, no. 20 (as Agnolo Gaddi);
Lugano, Villa Favorita, Fondazione Thyssen-Bomemisza, Manifestatori delle cose Miracolose, 7 April – 30 June 1991, no. 77 (as Agnolo Gaddi).


A. Kronfeld, Führer durch die Fürstliche Liechtensteinsche Gemäldegalerie in Wien, Vienna 1931, p. 174, cat. no. 875 (as Agnolo Gaddi?, and with an alternative attribution to Mariotto di Nardo);
B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance, Oxford 1932, p. 214 (as Agnolo Gaddi);
B. Berenson, Pitture italiane del Rinascimento, Milan 1936, p. 184 (as Agnolo Gaddi);
R. Salvini, L'arte di Agnolo Gaddi, Florence 1936, p. 186 (under erroneous attributions; as between Compagno di Agnolo and Pseudo Ambrogio di Baldese);
A.O. Quintavalle, La Regia Galleria di Parma, Rome 1939, p. 164 (as Starnina);
G. Wilhelm-P. Hilber, Meisterwerke aus den Sammlungen des Fürsten von Liechtenstein, exh. cat., Lucerne 1948, p. 5, cat. no. 20 (as Agnolo Gaddi);
B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Florentine School, London 1963, p. 69 (as Agnolo Gaddi (?));
M. Boskovits, 'Some Early Works of Agnolo Gaddi',  in the Burlington Magazine, 110, 1968, p. 212, reproduced p. 213, fig. 68 (as Agnolo Gaddi, datable to the 1370s);
M. Boskovits, Pittura Fiorentina alla vigilia del Rinascimento, 1370–1400, Florence 1975, p. 300, reproduced pl. 75/b (as Agnolo Gaddi);
B. Cole, Agnolo Gaddi, Oxford 1977, p. 73 (as Workshop of Agnolo Gaddi);
G. Freuler, "Manifestatori delle cose miracolose" : arte italiana del '300 e '400 da collezioni in Svizzera e nel Lichtenstein, exh. cat., Lugano-Castagnola 1991, p. 203, cat. no. 77, reproduced in colour p. 205 (as Agnolo Gaddi).


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 is in good condition overall. The extensive and intricate punchwork in the gold ground is nicely preserved, with a wide array of tooling and skillfully executed patterns. It is possible pigmented glazes once decorated the gilded passages. Some degree of regilding has occurred, which complicates locating physical evidence of original glazes. Retouching addresses wear from past cleanings, including rubbing in the angels, particularly the one on the right, and in the shadowed portions of the flesh passages. Losses around the perimeter have also been restored, as well as a large loss in the lap and lower leg of the angel on the left. Retouching is found throughout the blue mantle to address loss and wear. The vertically grained, heavy wood panel has been thinned just enough to create a smooth surface upon which to attach a cradle. Several cracks are visible from the reverse, and a recent crack visible on the front appears to have developed adjacent a vertical cradle member. The varnish is evenly glossy and adequately saturates the pigments. Structural intervention may be considered to remove the cradle, given the development of the crack on the front of the panel. Cleaning does not appear to be necessary at this time.
"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 majestic Madonna and Child was first associated with Agnolo Gaddi by Kronfeld in 1931. This attribution has most recently and convincingly been argued by Gaudenz Freuler in his publication accompanying the 1991 exhibition at the Fonazione Thyssen-Bomemisza, in Lugano. Agnolo was the son of Taddeo Gaddi, a pupil of Giotto, and one of the most influential and inventive artists of Trecento Florence. Agnolo and his brother Giovanni were, through their father, heirs to the Giottesque tradition and to a prosperous family enterprise, which Agnolo directed with enormous success up to the turn of the 15th century. When this Madonna and Child was published by Boskovits in 1968 he noted that an attribution to Agnolo is supported by the rich floral and animal ornamentation of the Virgin’s gown, whose motifs of leaping rabbits and foliage are reproduced exactly in other pictures by the artist, for example in the background of the Madonna from the Contini Bonacossi Collection and now in the Uffizi, Florence.1 When Boskovits published this panel for a second time in 1975, he proposed that it may have been the central panel of a polyptych, and that it might well have been flanked by the two pairs of saints that are currently framed as one altarpiece with the aforementioned Contini Bonacossi Madonna (see fig.1). Boskovits proposed a dating of the polyptych to the artist’s youthful period around the years 1375-80.2

The theory placing the present panel with the Contini Bonacossi saints has been supported most recently by Gaudenz Freuler. Like Berenson, however,3 Freuler proposed a later dating of the altarpiece to the 1390s during which period Gaddi’s paintings display an increased linearity, a more substantial volume to his figures, an increased attention to the detailed handling of the gold elements and their decoration, all balanced with a harmonious palette of pastel tones.4 These qualities of his later works were the distinctive traits that paved the way for the next generation of Florentine artists such as Starnina (to whom the present panel was erroneously attributed by Quintavalle in 1939, see Literature) and Lorenzo Monaco. Freuler also writes of the possible connection between this Madonna and Child and the accompanying Contini Bonacossi saints, and an altarpiece for the Church of San Miniato al Monte in Florence, for which Agnolo received payment during the last years of this activity (1394-96). Due to the inclusion of the figure of Saint Benedict in the Contini Bonacossi panels, it has been thought that this may be the altarpiece created for the Benedictine Church of San Miniato. As Freuler notes, this must remain speculative as there are fragments of another altarpiece by Agnolo preserved at San Miniato, which have also been associated with the documents noting the payments to the artist in the mid-1390s.

1. Cole 1977, p. 76, reproduced fig. 4.
2. For the erroneously paired Contini Bonacossi Polyptic see Cole 1977, fig. 3. For Boskovits’ proposed arrangement see Boskovits 1975, figs. 75/a-c and 75/b.
3. Berenson 1963, p. 69.
4. Freuler 1991, p. 203-204.