Lot 3
  • 3

Cristoforo Savolini

60,000 - 80,000 USD
137,500 USD
bidding is closed


  • 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.

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.