Adolphe and Suzanne Stoclet, Brussels, by 1925;
Thence by descent.
R. van Marle, 'Italian Paintings of the Thirteenth Century in the collection of Monsieur Adolph Stoclet in Brussels', Pantheon, vol. IV, July–December 1929, p. 318, reproduced p. 319, fig. 3 (as Roman School, first half of the 13th century);
E. Sandberg-Vavalà, Iconografia della Madonna col Bambino nella Pittura Italiana del Dugento, Siena 1934, p. 53, no 157, reproduced pl. XXIII C;
E. Sandberg-Vavalà, 'Alberto Sotio and his Group', The Journal of the Walters Art Gallery, vol. II, 1939, pp. 15–17, reproduced p. 14, fig. 6 and as details p. 12, fig. 4 and p. 16, figs 8 and 10 (as attributed to Alberto Sozio and datable to the end of the 12th century);
E.B. Garrison, Italian Romanesque Panel Painting, An Illustrated Index, Florence 1949, pp. 28 and 229, no. 631, reproduced (as 'S. Gregorio Master', Roman, second and third quarters of the thirteenth century; described as having been cut along the top edge);
R. Offner, ‘Note on an unknown St Francis in the Louvre’, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, XXXIX, 1952, p. 133, as a postscript (as sharing the style of the Louvre St Francis, which he dates to the early or middle 1230s, after the Subiaco frescoes of 1228);
M. Boskovits, 'Gli affreschi del duomo di Anagni: un capitolo di pittura romana', Paragone, vol. XXX, no. 357, November 1979, pp. 7–8, pp. 27–28 nn. 11–13, reproduced pl. 11 (as the Third Master of Anagni, probably towards the mid-1230s or later);
L. Marques, La peinture du Duecento en Italie centrale, Paris 1987, pp. 32, 35–36, 238 n. 51, 286, reproduced p. 33, fig. 30 (as an early work by the San Gregorio Master, as datable to c. 1215–25);
A. Tartuferi, 'Un libro e alcune considerazioni sulla pittura del Duecento in Italia centrale', in Arte Cristiana, LXXVI, 729, November–December 1988, pp. 431–32 (as the Third Master of Anagni, mid-1230s);
M. Boskovits, 'Gli affreschi del duomo di Anagni: un capitolo di pittura romana', in Immagini da meditare: ricerche su dipinti di tema religioso nei secoli XII–XV, Milan 1994 (reprint of Boskovits 1979), pp. 17–21, reproduced fig. 18 (as the Third Master of Anagni).
Joseph Wilpert, the first to publish this Madonna and Child in 1916, dated it to the first half of the thirteenth century, regarding it as close in style and date to the mosaics in the apse of San Paolo fuori le Mura in Rome.1 Raimond van Marle gave it a generic attribution and similar dating. In 1939 Evelyn Sandberg-Valvalà proposed as its author Alberto Sotio, the Umbrian master active in the last quarter of the twelfth century in Spoleto (doc. 1187), and, accordingly, gave it an earlier dating to the end of the twelfth century. Richard Offner was the first to recognize the Stoclet Madonna and Child as being by the same hand as the frescoes of 1228 in the chapel of San Gregorio in the Sacro Speco at Subiaco, from which the anonymous painter, the San Gregorio Master, derives his name. Edward Garrison, crediting Offner with the attribution, listed the Stoclet panel in his important study on Romanesque panel painting as by the San Gregorio Master, dating it to the second quarter of the thirteenth century. He concurred with Pietro Toesca’s attribution of some frescoes in the former Capuchin convent at Anagni (destroyed in the Second World War) to the same hand and agreed with his dating of 1237–55.2 However in 1979, Miklòs Boskovits, taking up the subject of Roman thirteenth-century painting in his study of the murals at the Cathedral at Anagni by the Third Master of Anagni, judged him to be the author of the San Gregorio murals at Subiaco as well (thereby ruling out the San Gregorio Master as a separate hand) and identified the Stoclet panel as also being by him.
Characterising this work as having swift, elegant lines, delicate figures of elongated proportions and intensely expressive faces, Boskovits dates it towards the mid-1230s or slightly later, in any case after the murals. Furthermore, he regards an important panel of Saint Francis at the Musée du Louvre, Paris, to be of similar date and attributable to the same painter as the Stoclet panel.3 Offner published the latter as Roman, early or mid-1230s, and placed it stylistically close to the frescoes at Subiaco. More recently, in 1987, Luis Marques reverted to the attribution of the Stoclet Madonna and Child to the San Gregorio Master, making a distinction between him and the Third Master of Anagni. This thesis is rejected by Angelo Tartuferi, who credits the Third Master of Anagni (and not a putative Master of San Gregorio) with the creation of the San Gregorio frescoes and the Stoclet panel. He concludes therefore, that the Stoclet Madonna and Child, a work of towering importance for Roman painting, is by the Third Master of Anagni and is datable to about the mid-1230s, after the Anagni and Subiaco frescoes and very close to the Louvre Saint Francis.
Given its great age, the panel is fairly well preserved, particularly in the faces of the angels.4 The cross on Christ’s nimbus is embellished with three large cabochon rock crystals and another, larger one forms the Virgin’s brooch; those on the Virgin’s headdress have been lost. As noted by Garrison, some sort of projection from the upper part has long since been removed. Boskovits thought it likely that the panel was originally gabled. Stylistically the Stoclet painting is notably different to Byzantine models. Its importance lies in its close ties to Umbrian and Roman painting in the first decades of the Duecento, while signalling a new phase in the development of painting in central Italy.
THE STOCLET COLLECTION
Adolphe Stoclet started collecting Italian Old Masters while working as an engineer for the North Milan Tram Service from 1896 to 1902. He was encouraged by his wife Suzanne, who had spent much of her youth at the Paris house of her uncle, the painter Alfred Stevens, whose friends included Victor Hugo, Edmond de Goncourt and Debussy. Suzanne Stoclet introduced her husband to a society in which aesthetic values predominated, and in Milan the couple spent their days in museums, galleries and private collections, and their evenings at La Scala, hearing Toscanini, and Caruso. Their six-year stay in Italy was followed by a shorter one in Vienna, where Adolphe Stoclet worked for a bank. The years 1902–03 in Vienna were febrile ones for the arts, and for the Stoclets, who came into close contact with the aesthetic movement, and in particular the architect Josef Hoffmann and his Wiener Werkstätte. In consequence Stoclet commissioned a house from Hoffmann when he returned to Brussels in 1904. The result, the Palais Stoclet on the Avenue de Tervuren, opened in 1911, filled with Wiener Werkstätte furniture and décor, including picture frames. It rapidly became, and remains today, Brussels’ most famous building, and is a landmark of the aesthetic movement in Europe. The Stoclets, for whom collecting was a vocation, filled it with art: from Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, Mexico, Peru, China, Japan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Africa, as well as the Middle Ages in France and Italy, so that the fame of the Stoclet collection matched that of the Palais Stoclet that housed it.
1 According to Wilpert, the painting probably came from a derelict or destroyed church in the Roman Campagna, and then belonged to Silla Rosa, who purchased it from a peasant; see Wilpert 1916, vol. II, p. 1138.
2 P. Toesca, Storia dell'arte italiana: Il Medioevo, Turin 1927, p. 1033, under n. 37; the only point on which Garrison disagreed was Toesca naming the master Frater Romanus.
3 96 x 39 cm.; Offner 1952, pp. 129–33, reproduced pp. 131–32, figs 2 (detail) and 3.
4 Boskovits 1979, p. 7.
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