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PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION

Giovanni del Biondo
THE 'MADONNA DEL LATTE'
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Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
250,000350,000
LOT SOLD. 312,500 USD
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30

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION

Giovanni del Biondo
THE 'MADONNA DEL LATTE'
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
250,000350,000
LOT SOLD. 312,500 USD
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Details & Cataloguing

Master Paintings Evening Sale

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Giovanni del Biondo
DOCUMENTED IN FLORENCE 1356 - 1399
THE 'MADONNA DEL LATTE'
tempera on panel, gold ground, pointed top within an integral frame
32 by 24 in.; 81.3 by 61 cm.
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Provenance

Private collection, near Florence;
Acquired by the family of the present owner by 1965.

Exhibited

Bregenz, Künstlerhaus Palais Thurn und Taxis, Meisterwerke der Malerei aus Privatsammlungen im Bodenseegebiet, 1 July - 30 September 1965, no. 42.

Literature

G. Wilhelm et. al., Meisterwerke der Malerei aus Privatsammlungen im Bodenseegebiet, exh. cat., Bregenz 1965, p. 43;
R. Offner and K. Steinweg, A Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting, section IV, vol. V, New York 1969, pp. 29-30, reproduced pl. V;
M. Boskovits, Pittura fiorentina alla vigilia del Rinascimento, 1370–1400, Florence 1975, p. 311 (as datable to 1375–80).

Catalogue Note

‘The composition and colouring of the panel single it out as one of Giovanni del Biondo’s most beautiful works’: thus begins Offner and Steinweg’s critical analysis of this impressive panel. Del Biondo is first recorded when, in 1356, he was granted Florentine citizenship as ‘Iohannes Biondi de Casentino pictor’. It is likely he was born in Casentino, a valley in the province of Arezzo, though which the Arno runs before reaching Florence. It is thought that Del Biondo’s artistic career may have began in the workshop of the brothers Andrea and Nardo di Cione. The influence of the former seems initially the most pronounced and is visible in the severity and hieratic style of the early works of del Biondo. By the time he had established his mature style, del Biondo had moved away from these qualities and his works are better defined by a lighter palette, a less somber mood, and an increased delight in surface ornament, as visible here in the exceptionally beautiful gold cloth in which the Christ Child is enveloped. An execution date proposed by Offner of just before 1377 is based on comparison with one of del Biondo’s signed work dated to that year: The Madonna and Child in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena.1

Offner remarked upon the panel’s adherence to Florentine Trecento models, making particular reference to a panel by the Master of the Dominican Effigies.2 The Christ Child’s outward gaze, and the fact that He is enveloped in the Virgin’s embroidered robe both find parallels in Niccolò di Tommaso’s painting of 1362 formerly in the Stoclet collection, Brussels,3 but Offner believed Giovanni del Biondo had succeeded in giving “a new and individual solution to the composition”. His Christ Child is held in a more naturalistic way by the Madonna, His upper body emerging from her tender embrace, thus simplifying the composition for greater emotional and pictorial impact.

This intimate composition almost certainly influenced the panel of the same subject given to the workshop of del Biono in the collection of the Isaac Delgado Museum of Art in New Orleans. Although the condition of that panel is compromised, the presence of the Madonna, her long tapered fingers, the way that the Child is tightly swaddled, and the common clear influence of Ambrogio Lorenzetti in both pictures also support their common dating to the mid/late 70s. Lorenzetti’s influence is also visible in the present panel in the haphazard decorative motifs of the Virgin’s robes; a markedly Sienese trait, as well as in the proportions of the Madonna’s head, the way the Child clasps his mother’s breast, and the effective recession created in the depiction of the infant’s forehead.

1. Inv. no. 584; reproduced in R. Fremantle, Florentine Gothic Painters from Giotto to Masaccio. A guide to painting in and near Florence, 1300 to 1450, London 1975, p. 248, reproduced fig. 496.
2. See R. Offner & K. Steinweg 1969, sec. III, vol. VII, reproduced pl. XI and p. 34n.
3. Sold by Mme. Michèle Stoclet, from the collection formed by Adolphe Stoclet, London, Sotheby’s, 30 June 1965, lot 20.

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