PROSPERO FONTANA | ADORATION OF THE SHEPHERDS; ADORATION OF THE MAGI
Bologna 1512 - 1597
ADORATION OF THE SHEPHERDS
ADORATION OF THE MAGI
a pair, both oil on copper
each copper: 20⅝ by 9½ in.; 52.5 by 24.3 cm.
each framed: 25½ by 14 in.; 64.8 by 35.6 cm.
"The Adoration of the Magi:"
The copper support is flat and stable, supported on the reverse by a wooden backing. The overall surface has a somewhat cloudy varnish that could be freshened. Overall the condition in the figures and landscape appears to be good, with beautiful retention of detail in the costumes and in other details. There appears to be slight degradation and possibly old losses in some of the browns to the right of the column and behind the head of Joseph. Under UV there are small scattered restorations here and there, none are particularly localized.
"The Adoration of the Shepherds:"
The copper support is flat and stable, supported on the reverse by a wooden backing. Surface has a somewhat cloudy varnish. Overall this painting is better preserved than its pendant. There is beautiful detail throughout, including gold touches around the figures of the holy family. Under UV there are very small touches scattered here and there, which are very minor. From the center to the upper right corner there appears to be an area of overpaint or restoration possibly from an old damage in the upper right corner of the copper. While this is about four inches in length, it does not intrude in anyway significantly into the composition.
This pair of paintings could be improved with a fresh varnish and slight restoration tweaks, however they could also be hung as is. Offered in light brown molded frames.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.
The Dukes of Serra di Cassano, Bologna, by the 18th century;
Thence by descent in the family until about 2003;
Anonymous sale, Venice, Semenzato, 12 July 2003, lot 550;
There acquired by the present owner.
V. Fortunati, in Splendori riscoperti a Budrio, exhibition catalogue, Bologna 2006, pp. 90, 92;
To be included in the forthcoming monograph on Prospero Fontana by Professoressa Vera Fortunati, scheduled to be published Summer 2021.
These refined and vibrant copper panels are important recent additions to the corpus of the Bolognese artist Prospero Fontana, the father of Lavinia Fontana. They are datable to the middle of his career, circa 1560-1570, after he worked with Primaticcio in Fontainebleau and before he settled back in Bologna. During this decade, we find a full expression of North Italian Mannerism, one that he was first exposed to as a young artist while assisting Giorgio Vasari in Rome and Florence and one that he would turn away from after returning to Bologna in the 1570s.
Both panels are to be included in the forthcoming monograph on Prospero Fontana currently in preparation by Professoressa Vera Fortunati, who dates the works to the seventh decade of the 16th century.