Property from a Distinguished Private Collection, Sold Without Reserve
WORKSHOP OF THE ZAVATTARI FAMILY
(Active in Lombardy, mid 15th century)
SAINT JOHN THE EVANGELIST;
a pair, both tempera on panel, gold ground, with an arched top
each: 8⅞ by 7¾ in.; 22.5 by 19.8 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.
These two small depictions of saints, at some point removed from a larger group set within a predella, are in sound condition overall. Skilled retouching in both panels, much of which is beneath a strongly fluorescing natural resin varnish, addresses losses and wear and reinforces select details to enhance legibility. The green garment worn by St. John may have suffered from typical age-related degradation of the green glazes, which has led to reinforcement in the shadows. Losses along his shoulder on the left and small losses around his hand holding the prayer book have been restored, while some facial features
and curls in the hair have been strengthened. In the figure of Saint Andrew, portions of the body and an area of the forehead display painted-in craquelure that may relate to moderately large losses of paint.
While some contours have been reinforced, the mordant-gilt edging on St. Andrew's garments seems well preserved. In both panels, the punchwork in the halos disappears beneath the arch of the attached framing; gilding on the framing elements appears comparatively free of wear. Abrasion in the gold leaf of the backgrounds has been reintegrated with toning to match the warm red bole beneath the gilding. Each wood support has been thinned and attached to a piece of plywood. Both panels are planar, and are coated with a clear and evenly glossy varnish.
"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."
These two small panels of Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Andrew once formed part of a long predella, first reconstructed in 1988 by Miklós Boskovits, with Christ Blessing at the center and half-length depictions of twelve apostles on either side . The gentle eyes and the small, delicate hands of the two figures here are stylistically consistent with the Lombard style of the Zavattari workshop, active in the second and third quarters of the fifteenth century. In addition to the present two saints, seven other panels have been identified: the Christ Blessing, formerly in the Guy Grieten collection, Brussels; St. Peter and Two Apostles, in the Staatsgalerie, Stuttgaart (inv. no. 3116); Saint James Major, Saint Bartholomew and another Saint, in a private collection, Milan. Boskovits proposed that the predella may have belonged to the same dismantled polyptych as four lateral saints from the workshop: the Saint John the Baptist and Saint Michael, in the Museo di Castelvecchio, Verona (inv. nos. 735 and 736); the Saint George, formerly in the Willczek collection, Kreuzenstein, Vienna; and the Saint Catherine, in a private collection. He also identified a Christ as the Man of Sorrows, in the Walraff-Richartz Museum, Cologne (inv. no. 748) as likely having surmounted the central panel.
1. For the dismembered polyptych see M. Boskovits, in Arte in Lombardia tra Gotico e Rinascimento, exhibition catalogue, Milan 1988, pp. 170-172. The present panels seem to be unknown at the time of this 1988 publication.