The Murder of the Magus Smerdis; The Coronation of Darius: a pair
Property from a Distinguished Private Collection
The Murder of the Magus Smerdis; The Coronation of Darius: a pair
a pair, both oil on panel
each panel: 10 by 12 ¼ in.; 25.5 by 31 cm.
each framed: 12 ¼ by 17 in.; 31.1 by 43.2 cm.
The following condition report has been provided by Karen Thomas of Thomas Art Conservation, 119 West 23rd Street, Suite 400, New York, NY 10011, 212-562-4024, firstname.lastname@example.org ,an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. The Murder of the Magus Smerdis This painting presents quite well and is in sound condition. Extensive retouching is found throughout the painting to address both age-related thinness and abrasion, particularly in the architecture, as well as to visually suppress the craquelure in the pinkish floor. Much of the modeling in the figures has been reinforced with restoration glazes. A narrow band of retouching follows an old crack across the width of the panel, halfway between the top and middle. Given the degree of wear throughout the painting, it seems unlikely the intact shell gold details are entirely original. The wood grain is pronounced in raking light, more so than in the other painting of this pair. The varnish is evenly glossy albeit slightly discolored. The horizontally grained wooden support is planar and structurally sound. A secondary, four-part, frame-like support has been attached to the reverse, leaving a window for an inscription in black ink. The Coronation of Darius This painting is in sound condition overall. A large loss extending down the right side of the painting has been restored using a selezione chromatica version of trattegio. Elsewhere in the picture, retouching knits together thinness and wear, particularly in the background and in the grass and path. Much of the retouching has begun to shift in color due to age. Further retouching may be present beneath the mottled and strongly fluorescing varnish. The horizontally grained wooden support is planar and structurally sound. A secondary, four-part, frame-like support has been attached to the reverse, leaving a window for an inscription in black ink.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
P. Edwards, Inventario della Galleria Manfrin, 1794, manuscript, (SPV, ms.1032.18), (as by “Bonfacio,” two amongst the inventory with general descriptions, nos. 24, 25, 31, 32, 36, 38, 49, or 59);
Inventory “Manfrin conte Pietro morto li 28 agosto 1833,” 1834, manuscript, (ASVe, Conservatoria del resistro e tasse, b. 1581, fasc. 1443) (as by Carotto, nos. 5, 14, 30 or 39);
Possibly T. Uwins and W. Woodburn, Inventory and Valuation of Pictures made from the Manfrin Collection at Venice, 1851, manuscript, NG, Manfrin collection mss. A.IV.4 37., no. 11 (as “Fra. Carotto Storia“);
L. Cust, "La Collection de M. R-H Benson", in Les Arts, 70, Paris, October 1907, pp. 20 and 22;
T. Borenius, Catalogue of Italian Pictures...Collected by Robert and Evelyn Benson. London 1914, pp. 225-26, cat. nos. 111 and 112;
P. Schubring, Cassoni, Leipzig 1915, p. 379, cat. nos. 701 and 702;
Collection Marczell von Nemes, Catlogue de Tableaux, 1931, p. 17, cat. nos. 25 and 26, reproduced;
B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance, Central and North Italian Schools, London 1968, vol. I, p. 171;
P. Bugnoli (ed.), Maestri della pittura veronese, Verona 1974, p. 158;
M. Repetto Contaldo, "Novità e precisazioni su Nicola Giolfino" in Arte Veneta, vol. 30, 1976, p. 75;
B. Wollesen-Wisch, Italian Reniassance Art. Selections from the Piero Corsini Gallery, exhibition catalogue, University Park, Pennsylvania 1987, pp. 30-31, reproduced in colour;
M. Vinco in Cassoni: Pittura profana del Rinascimento a Verona, Milan 2018, pp. 367-371, cat. nos. 121.1 and 121.2, reproduced pp. 368-9;
L. Borean, La Galleria Manfrin a Venezia: L’ultima collezione d’arte della Serenissima, 2019, p. 135.
These two works by Niccolò Giolfino once formed part of a larger series, most likely from a cassone panel or another piece of furniture. Other panels from the series include a pair of panels of unidentified episodes from Roman history in the Lindenau Museum, Altenburg, a pair in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, showing two scenes from the myth of Atalanta, and a Mucius Scaevola sold in these Rooms, 14 February 1968, lot 53.1 Another panel depicting Orciagon and Chiomara shares the same provenance as the present works and was also formerly with Corsini.
The panels are dateable circa 1530, according to Repetto Contaldo (see Literature). They can be grouped together due to their similar dimensions, the choice of profane subjects within a very particular style of architecture, and are united by a similar colour scheme of muted grey and olive tones punctuated by flashes of red and yellow. Similar works were sold London, Christie's, 6 July 2010, lot 1, for £65,000.
These panels by Giolfino may be identified together with others from the same series in the various inventories of the Manfrin Gallery. They were in the collection before 1794, when they were inventoried by the restorer and antiquarian Pietro Edwards who listed a number of panels he attributed to “Bonifacio” (ie. Bonifazio Veronese). As some of his entries are vague as to their subject, it is hard to be certain which might correspond precisely with the present lot or any of the known paintings listed above. The compiler of the inventory made in 1834 on the occasion of the death of Pietro Manfrin appears to have reassessed the previous attribution, and considered the paintings to be by Giovanni Francesco Carotto. In that listing, the present works appear under the generic title “Storia lombarda,” although one, under number 14, is noted as “Storia lombarda con figure e cavalli” and seems very likely identifiable with the present painting of the Coronation of Darius. Finally, at least one of the paintings by Giolfino from the Manfrin collection was listed in 1851 by Thomas Uwins and William Woodburn when they drew up a selection of paintings they considered worthy of acquisition by the National Gallery, London, as hanging in “Stanza Segnata H” as “11 Fra. Carotto Storia“ with a value of £30.
1. See Berenson, under Literature, pp. 170-171.