SOLD WITHOUT RESERVE
MASTER OF STAFFOLO | MADONNA AND CHILD ENTHRONED WITH SAINT SEBASTIAN, SAINT BERNARDINO OF SIENA AND TWO ANGELS
Estimate: 40,000 - 60,000 USD
MASTER OF STAFFOLO
active in the Marche in the second and third quarter of the fifteenth century
MADONNA AND CHILD ENTHRONED WITH SAINT SEBASTIAN, SAINT BERNARDINO OF SIENA AND TWO ANGELS
inscribed on the reverse: All'ill[ustrissi]mo, e r[everendissi]mo / monsig[nor] Vinci presid[ente] della R[everenda] C[amera] A[postolica] / ROMA1
tempera on panel, gold ground
22⅛ by 14¾ in.; 56.3 by 37.5 cm.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's.
This painting is in sound condition overall. As noted in the lot description, this panel is likely one face of a double-sided processional standard; having thus been a utilitarian devotional object, it is not surprising that the painting shows wear. A normal age-related craquelure traverses the surface of the painting. Retouching has been applied to visually suppress cracks and knit together forms, although in some areas (for example, the Virgin’s red dress) wear along the craquelure has been left untouched. Rubbing in the gold ground base of the Madonna’s elaborate mantle suggests the blue painted pattern is reinforced. It appears that the pattern in the cloth of honor is partially reconstructed and that some degree of regilding has been carried out here. Restored losses adjacent the saints’ heads and extending into the halos suggest framing elements were originally attached to the sides of the panel. The panel displays a mild convex lateral warp but no structural issues.
"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."
Monsignor Giuseppe Vinci (1736-1795), Fermo;
Private collection, England.
M. Mazzalupi and A. Delpriori, Luca di Paolo e il Rinascimento nelle Marche, exhibition catalogue, Perugia 2015, pp. 50-51, under cat. no. 2.
Almost certainly once forming part of a processional banner, this sumptuously embellished yet delicately rendered panel is one of the Master of Staffolo’s finest works. Named for the polyptych in the parish church of Sant’Egidio in the town of Staffolo (province of Ancona), this anonymous artist was an important follower of Gentile da Fabriano. He was active in the Marche during the second and third quarters of the fifteenth century and his works are characterized by their visual strength and naturalism.
Enthroned at the center of this gold-ground panel, in front of brocaded fabric held by two angels, is a monumental Madonna, clad in colorful robes and adorned with a raised crown and a flower-shaped jewel. Her graceful features are echoed in the figure of the Christ Child, who is wrapped in a translucent cloth, as well as in the two saints beside her. To the left is Saint Sebastian, protector of the Plague, and to the right is Saint Bernardino of Siena, who had a cult in Fabriano, where the present artist was active.
The current format of this thin panel suggests that it originally formed one face of a double-sided processional standard. Matteo Mazzalupi has recently identified its possible companion as a panel formerly in the Borgia collection, but today in the Capodimonte Museum in Naples.2 That panel depicts an enthroned Saint Augustine, not Saint Eleutherius as once thought, with members of a confraternity kneeling in the lower foreground. It compares closely to the present work in size, composition, and decorative elements, and a similar hollow at the lower center of the reverse of each panel serves to indicate where a standard pole was likely once inserted. Mazzalupi suggests that this double-sided standard was possibly commissioned by the confraternity of Saint Augustine attached to the church of Sant'Agostino in Fabriano at some point after 1450, the year Saint Bernardino was canonized. That there was such a brotherhood in Fabriano, where the present artist was active, might indicate that the figures kneeling in the Naples panel are members of this Fabriano confraternity.
Mazzalupi has also noted that these two panels were likely separated before the late eighteenth century, for an extensive and important old inscription on the reverse of the panel indicates this panel’s earliest known owner: Monsignor Giuseppe Vinci (1736-1795). A native of Fermo in the southern Marche, Vinci served as governor for several cities in the Papal States, including Fabriano, and he also eventually served as president of the Apostolic Chamber in Rome. On the reverse of this panel is a wax seal from the municipality of Fermo, indicating that it may have been gifted to Vinci from his native town.
We are grateful to Dr. Matteo Mazzalupi, Professor Larry Kanter and Dr. Victor Schmidt for their assistance with this entry.
1. As translated: To the most illustrious and most reverend Monsignor Vinci, the president of the Apostolic Chamber, Rome.
2. Tempera on panel, 55 by 37 cm.