SOLD WITHOUT RESERVE
MATTEO CESA | THE BIRTH AND THE PRESENTATION OF THE VIRGIN MARY IN THE TEMPLE; THE DORMITION OF THE VIRGIN MARY
Estimate: 80,000 - 120,000 USD
Active in Belluno circa 1425 - after 1491
THE BIRTH AND THE PRESENTATION OF THE VIRGIN MARY IN THE TEMPLE; THE DORMITION OF THE VIRGIN MARY
a pair, each tempera on panel
each: 13¼ by 17⅛ in.; 33.7 by 43.5 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, email@example.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's.
This well-matched pair of scenes have been restored to a high level, highlighting the crisp contours and linear elements. Not obvious under either normal or ultra-violet light, retouching reinforces the sharpness of the details drawn in with paint, enhances the vibrancy of the palette, and knits together wear along the age-related craquelure. Mild cupping following the craquelure exists in both paintings. In The Dormition of the Virgin a horizontal crack runs originating at the right edge crosses through the heads of six of the saints on the right, and a cluster of tiny old pinpoint losses is located in the far upper right corner. Both horizontally grained boards are in sound condition. The panel for The Dormition of the Virgin is made of a single board with a 1cm-wide strip of wood added to the right edge, onto which the composition has been expanded with restoration. The panel for The Birth and Presentation is comprised of two boards with a horizontal join running across the middle of the painting, and with strips of wood approximately 1cm wide attached around the entire perimeter; the composition has been expanded with restoration on the top addition. On the reverse of The Birth and Presentation, a deep recess for a butterfly insert spanning the join is visible. The varnish is clear and even. Neither scene shows any need of conservation treatment at present.
"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."
Chiesa di Santa Maria di Sargnano, Belluno, until 1883-1885;
Volterra collection, Florence;
Charles Fairfax Murray, London;
Raoul Tolentino, Rome;
His sale, New York, American Art Association, 22-26 April 1924, lot 882 and 883 (sold separately as Bartolommeo Vivarini);
Anonymous sale, New York, American Art Association, 26-30 April 1927, lot 939 and 940 (sold separately as Bartolommeo Vivarini);
With Katz Gallery, Dieren, Netherlands, until at least 1959.
F. Zeri, "Antonio Rosso da Cadore: una serie e alcuni problemi", in Antologia di Belle Arti, vol. IV, no. 14-15, Milan 1980, pp. 141-144, reproduced fig. 1 and 4 (as Antonio Rosso);
M. Tamassia, Collezioni d’arte tra Ottocento e Novecento. Jacquier fotografi a Firenze 1870 - 1935, Naples 1995, p. 162, cat. nos. 56598 and 56616, reproduced pp. 162 and 164 (as Antonio Rosso);
L. Sartor in A nord di Venezia: scultura e pittura nelle valate dolomitiche tra Gotico e Rinascimento, exhibition catalogue, Cinisello Balsamo 2004, pp. 123-124 and 190-197, under cat. no. 24, reproduced p. 197.
These panels were originally part of a larger altarpiece depicting episodes from the life of the Virgin Mary in the Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Battuti (see Provenance). Before this altarpiece was dismantled between 1883-85 and sold to finance the construction of a new church, the art historian Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle drew a sketch labeling each component.1 His sketch shows The Birth and the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple was the topmost left panel, while The Dormition of the Virgin was the third panel from the top right. Along with the other scenes of the life of the Virgin, these panels framed the dominant central depiction of The Madonna and Child Enthroned. Fortunately, aside from two missing panels, all other scenes have been accounted for since their dispersal.
Federico Zeri (see Literature) was the first to reconstruct the altarpiece after the dispersal of the panels, attributing the works to the artist Antonio Rosso da Cadore (active 1472 - 1525). Later, however, Mauro Lucco placed this altarpiece in the oeuvre of Matteo Cesa.
The Madonna and Child Enthroned between the Archangel Michael and a Bishop Saint in the Museo Civico, Belluno2 is among Cesa's earlier works and shows the artist's preference for the rigid, Gothic-style common in the provinces of the major art centers. As Cesa progressed as an artist, he cultivated great precision and agility as seen here. In the first panel, he skillfully used the architectural space to split the scene into two episodes from the Virgin's life. Perspective and depth can also be appreciated in the second panel, where the Virgin lays at the center of the composition, surrounded by the mourning apostles.
1. See L. Sartor 2004, p. 124, fig. 16.
2. Tempera on panel, 130 by 131.5 cm., inv. no. 551. See http://catalogo.fondazionezeri.unibo.it/entry/work/27708/