Lot 2
  • 2


250,000 - 350,000 GBP
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  • The Madonna and Child enthroned
  • tempera on panel, gold ground
  • 86 x 59.5 cm.; 33 7/8  x 23 3/8  in.


In the collection of the father of the present owner since 1967; Thence by descent.



M. Muraro, Paolo da Venezia, Milan 1969, pp. 36, and 110, fig. 4 (as workshop of Paolo, circa 1340).


The following condition report is provided by Sarah Walden who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's: Paolo Veneziano. Madonna and Child Enthroned. This painting is on a thick poplar panel, with a knot visible behind. There are three full length cracks and one shorter crack from the top. Stabilising butterfly joints have been added to one or two in the past. There has been very little worm. Only an outer crack at the left has moved, with small lost flakes. Two little circular upper corner panels have been lost. There has been some old damage at the right edge, which has been well repaired, and other traces of old restoration have also been well done. There is quite a marked craquelure throughout, with old retouching down the main cracks, as well as muting some of the craquelure, dimly visible under ultra violet light, with past retouching in Christ's chest. Some of the fine gold decoration in the Madonna's inner drapery is rather thin, as also is that of the Christ Child, while the Madonna's robe is clearly ultra marine and has remained apparently strong. Other decorated drapery has been finely preserved. This report was not done under laboratory conditions.
"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

Paolo Veneziano was the dominant artistic personality in fourteenth-century Venice and possibly the most widely patronized too, winning commissions throughout northern and central Italy, as well as in Istria and Dalmatia. Steeped in the Byzantine roots of Venetic painting at the time, he absorbed and made his own the new gothic idiom that swept through Europe and was fundamental in steering Venetian painting away from its Hellenistic roots to form its own identity. We are grateful to Professor Andrea De Marchi for confirming the attribution and for proposing that Paolo's son Giovannino assisted in the execution of the panel. De Marchi dates the work to the 1350s, probably after the Campana Polyptych dated 1354 in the Louvre, Paris, in which the Madonna is also seen enthroned and in which the halos of the two figures, particularly in the red cruciform design of the Child and the Mother's crown, closely match the present ones.1 De Marchi also suggests the present work was likely painted before the Saint Dominic Polyptych from San Severino Marche, of which the central panel, signed by both Paolo and Giovannino and dated 1358, is in the Frick Collection, New York.

We also thank Dr Christopher Platts for endorsing the attribution to Paolo and for dating the work to the mid- to late-1350s. Platts too believes that the work was executed with the help of a talented associate, possibly one of the artist's sons, as was frequent in the artist's production during the latter part of his career. For Platts the closest comparison is with the central panel of the aforementioned Campana Polyptych from 1354, and in particular the very similar way in which the bone structure of the eye sockets is defined.

Both De Marchi and Platts have kindly pointed us to an article by Roberta Maria Salvador in which she carefully analyses the tooling and punchwork found in Paolo's oeuvre. The master and his workshop made use of a unique three-pointed punch tool to create the triangular groups of three dots in the gilded halos. This particular punch tool is only found in works executed after circa 1349 and then disappears form the artist's known works after circa 1358, thus providing us with technical evidence which supports the stylistic dating of the work to the mid- to late-1350s.

1 See F. Pedrocco, Paolo Veneziano, Milan 2003, pp. 194–95, cat. no. 25, reproduced.

2 Pedrocco 2003, pp. 204–05, cat. no. 30, reproduced.

3 R. M. Salvador, 'Girali e racimoli. Paolo Veneziano e la definizione di un canone nella decorazione dei nimbi', in Arte veneta, 71, 2014, pp. 101–25.