Lot 3
  • 3

Cristoforo Savolini

60,000 - 80,000 USD
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  • Cristoforo Savolini
  • The Madonna and Child
  • oil on canvas
  • 40 5/8 by 31 1/2 in.; 103 by 80 cm.


Lodovico Ugolini (died 1736), Cesena (recorded in an inventory prepared for his will, drafted 20 May 1720);
Borghese collection;
Thence gifted to Antonio Ruffo della Scaletta upon his marriage to Ludovica Borghese in 1879;
With Alessandra di Castro Antichità, Rome;
There acquired.


G. Savini, "Cristoforo Savolini, detto Cristofanino,  pittore," in Romagna Arte e Storia, 10, 1990, p.71.


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. The condition is extremely good for a work of this period. The paint layer is clearly un-abraded, and the details and the texture of the original paint within the figures are beautifully preserved. There are a few retouches in the forehead of the child and a few spots in his torso. There is a small damage and some retouches across the knee of his right leg. There is a retouching in the middle finger of the Madonna's left hand, and three more significant retouches in the sleeve of the gown here. Some cracking in the clothing around her chest has been retouched, and a crack across her nose has also received retouches in the sleeve of the gown here. Some cracking in the clothing around her chest has been retouched, and a crack across her nose has also received retouches, but this is to be expected and is not of any concern. The largest of these retouches is on the bottom edge beneath the feet of the Child. The work should be hung in its current state.
"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

The Emilian artist Cristoforo Savolini was born in Cesena and was active there for most of his tragically short life; he died at the age of 38 in a horse-riding accident.  At the time of his death he was approaching the height of his career, having recently painted the large altarpiece of the church of San Domenico in his hometown.1  There were a number of works left unfinished in his studio, including the present Madonna and Child, which was then purchased by the lawyer Ludovico Ugolini along with two other unfinished paintings. One of these is Savolini's Expulsion of Hagar, now in the Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky, (inv. no. 1970.43, fig. 1).

An important patron of Savolini, Ugolini ultimately collected 31 of the artist's paintings, drawings, and sketches.  The present work is described in Ugolini's will, drafted 20 May 1720:

"An unfinished Madonna with the Child holding her hand in such a way that she may impart a blessing, more than half a figure in height, by the hand of the above mentioned Mr. Savolini, with a frame fully gilded with various leaves and a small panel overhead to keep out the dust, and with a Sengalla green curtain to keep it covered."2
A finished painting by Savolini of The Holy Family, now in a private collection, includes an almost identical Christ figure to the one in the present work.  In that painting, the Madonna looks away from Christ, toward Joseph, while here she gazes at her son tenderly as she gently holds his hands. A similar Christ is repeated again in a drawing of the Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist, now in the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, Milan.

Along with Cristoforo Serra, Savolini was one of the most important painters of the late Emilian School.  The influence of his older contemporaries, such as Guercino, Domenichino, and Guido Cagnacci, is evident in his small body of work.  Given Cesena's ties to Rome and the papacy, Savolini received a number of religious commissions throughout the region; his works can be found not only in Cesena but also Faenza, Pesaro, Rimini, and Bologna.  

1. See Savini under Literature, pp. 61-62, reproduced p. 60, fig. 4.

2. “Una Madonna non finita col Bambino che le tiene la mano, acciò dia la benedizione, di grandezza di più di mezza figura, di mano del sud.o Sig.r Savolini con cornice tutta dorata con soprafoglie riverse, et una tavoletta sopra per riguardo della polvere, e con sua tenda verde di Sengalla per tenerla coperta” (p. 71.).  Now in the state archives in Cesena, reprinted in Savini under Literature

3. Ibid, p. 67, reproduced p. 68, fig. 9.