Lot 10
  • 10


100,000 - 150,000 USD
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  • Pietà
  • oil on panel, unframed
  • 10 7/8  by 8 5/8  in.; 27.5 by 21.8 cm. 


Augusto Jandolo (1873-1952), Rome;
Montefiore collection, until 1962;
Francesco Monaco, Rome, until 1969;
George Agai, Rome;
With Eva Mandel Mantello, Rome by 1975;
Abdu Bekhechi;
Acquired by the family of the present owners before 2012.


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 picture is in sound condition overall. The painting has been very carefully restored, with close attention to knitting together abrasion, solidifying contours and convincingly integrating losses. The larger of the losses are found in the sky (upper right and along the top edge), the top of Christ's head, and in Mary's proper right leg. Much of the retouching addresses tiny losses and visual suppression of a network of fine aging cracks. Some of the retouching has shifted slightly in hue over time but not distractingly so. The varnish is somewhat discolored, but still saturates the paints and displays an even gloss. The panel, comprised of a single, tangentially-cut, vertically grained softwood board, displays a mild lateral warp. The panel is sound and free of structural defects.
"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 poignant depiction of the Pietà was painted most likely in the first decade of the 16th Century, circa 1505, as an independent work for private devotion. Stylistically it reflects the dynamic artistic interface of Umbrian and Florentine painting of the High Renaissance. Indeed, its author appears to be an artist very close to the young Raphael, just about the time that he moves to Florence in 1504. This connection is so strong, in fact, that the painting has in the past been given to Raphael himself. Federico Zeri was an early champion of this attribution, and he was followed by Ferdinando Bologna, who dated it to 1502-3 and compared it to the Mond Crucifixion (National Gallery, London, inv. NG3943), a work painted by Raphael for the church of San Domenico in Città di Castello before 1503.1 Konrad Oberhuber, on the other hand, had suggested a possible attribution to Perugino, most likely based on the painting’s compositional connection to the large Pietà in the National Gallery, Dublin.  More recent art historians have also been intrigued by this touching panel; attributions to Eusebio di San Giorgio as well as the still anonymous artist who Filippo Todini has formed under the name “Baccio Ubertini” have been suggested.2 The connection to Perugino became more intriguing with the recent reappearance in 2005 of a Pietà of the same composition published by Filippo Todini.3 That panel is of much larger dimensions (89 by 72 cm.) and has been connected to the Pietà painted for the Serristori chapel in Santo Croce, mentioned by Vasari.4   Despite the strict correspondence of the two paintings compositionally, there is no doubt that the two paintings are by different hands. In additional to incidental differences, such as in the landscape and the coloration of the Virgin’s garment, the Serristori painting is much more stolid than the present panel, which has a more refined approach to its execution, natural given its function as a more intimate work of art.

The theme of the Pietà, so familiar in Renaissance art, was a relatively late addition to the iconographical repertoire of Italian artists. It first appears in Sienese painting in the early 14th Century, but did not gain widespread usage until the late 15th Century, at about the time that the present example was painted. Unlike the treatment given the subject by Northern artists, who had embraced it much earlier and in a much more potent and physical way, Italian artists often focused more in the idealization of the human form. In the present panel, this is clearly the case, where the figure of Christ is held upright by the Virgin in an intimate—and thus more touching—pose. His torso is reminiscent of classical sculpture, and indeed the whole composition must have drawn inspiration from Michelangelo’s great Pietà of 1498/9.

1. In a letter dated 10 October, 1975. He dates it “in piena sincronia con la 'Crocifissione' di Londra,” and dismisses an attribution to Perugino in favor of the young Raphael.

2. Todini has formed a small corpus of works by an artist that appears to be a Florentine follower of Perugino, but with an idiosyncratic artistic style, and has grouped as a hypothesis them under the name of Baccio Ubertini, an artist from the large family of painters, which included Bacchiacca (see F. Todini, La Pittura Umbra, 1989, vol. I, 328.

3. F. Todini, “Il Perugino, le sue botteghe e i suoi seguaci,” in Perugino a Firenze: Qualità e fortuna di uno stile, exhibition catalogue, 2005, pp. 64-66, reproduced.

4. G. Vasari, “Vita di Morto da Felyro e Andrea di Cosimo Feltrini,” in Le Vite de' più eccellenti pittori, scultori, e architettori, English Edition, translated by G. Du C. de Vere, 1979, p. 1129.