Master Paintings & Sculpture Part I

Master Paintings & Sculpture Part I

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 11. The Madonna and Child with Three Angels: The "Benson Madonna".

Property from a Private New York Collection

Fra Diamante

The Madonna and Child with Three Angels: The "Benson Madonna"

Auction Closed

January 27, 05:11 PM GMT


300,000 - 500,000 USD

Lot Details


Property from a Private New York Collection

Fra Diamante

Terranuova circa 1430 - after 1492

The Madonna and Child with Three Angels: The "Benson Madonna"

tempera on panel

panel: 29 7/8 by 20 5/8 in.; 75.9 by 52.5 cm.

framed: 45 1/2 by 36 1/4 in.; 116 by 92.1 cm.




約1430 - 1492年後,特拉諾瓦



畫板:29 7/8 x 20 5/8 英寸;75.9 x 52.5 公分

連框:45 1/2 x 36 1/4 英寸;116 x 92.1 公分

William Graham (1817-1885), 35 Grosvenor Place, London, before 1882 (as Filippo Lippi);
His deceased sale, London, Christie's, 8 April 1886, lot 340 (as Filippo Lippi);
There acquired by Robert Henry Benson (1850-1929), London, until at least 1895 (as Fra Diamante);
With Duveen Brothers, Paris (as School of Filippo Lippi);
From whom acquired by Commendatore Paolo Gerli, Milan, 4 September 1934;
From whom purchased by a Swiss private collector, 1936, and by descent until 2000s;
Acquired by a European private collector, 2000s;
By whom sold, New York, Sotheby's, 24 January 2008, lot 39 (as Fra Diamante);
There acquired.
Catalogue of Pictures Ancient and Modern [Graham Collection], London 1882, p. 10, cat. no. 213 (as Filippo Lippi);
G. Gronau, in Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft, vol. XVIII, 1895, p. 228;
A. Graves, A Century of Loan Exhibitions 1813-1912, London 1913, vol. I, p. 347 (as Florentine School), and vol. II, p. 710 (as Filippo Lippi);
Catalogue of Italian Pictures at 16 South Street, Park Lane, London and Buckhurst in Sussex, Collected by Robert and Evelyn Benson, London 1914, p. 33, cat. no. 18 (as Fra Diamante);
Loan Exhibition of the Benson Collection of Old Italian Masters, exhibition catalogue, Manchester 1927, p. 24, no. 70;
B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Florentine School, vol. I, London 1963, p. 59;
I. Tronconi, in Da Donatello a Lippi: officina pratese, edited by A. De Marchi and C. Gnoni Mavarelli, exhibition catalogue, Milan 2013, pp. 208-09, no. 6.4;
I. Tronconi, in The Alana Collection, vol. III: Italian Paintings from the 14th to 16th Century, edited by S. Chiodo and S. Padovani, Florence 2014, no. 11, pp. 73-78, reproduced in color p. 75 and color detail p. 76.

Fra Diamante was raised in the Carmelite convent in Prato, though he never actually took the habit of the Carmelites but was rather a Vallombrosan monk by 1460, when he is listed as “Don Diamante.” The Vallombrosians belonged to a branch of the Benedictine Order, deriving their name from their abbey outside Florence. Fra Diamante was imprisoned twice in his life, likely due to financial and doctrinal disputes with members of his order. Diamante is also mentioned as Fra Filippo Lippi’s garzone in 1454 and worked with his teacher on the frescoes of the main chapel of the Prato Cathedral between 1452/3 - 1465. He became Lippi’s primary assistant and collaborated with his master frequently. Indeed, toward the end of Lippi’s career, Diamante completed some of Lippi’s works, making attributions difficult, and the present lot was thought to be the work of Lippi until Berenson recognized it as by Fra Diamante.1 

One important collaborative project between Lippi and Fra Diamante is the mural cycle dedicated to the Virgin in the apse of the cathedral of Santa Maria dell'Assunta in Spoleto.2 Lippi travelled to Spoleto in 1466 and moved there the following year with his son Filippino and with Fra Diamante. Following Lippi's death in1469, Fra Diamante completed the frescoes in the cathedral and was appointed guardian of Lippi's son. Luciano Bellosi and later Isabella Tronconi have proposed areas in which Fra Diamante’s hand can be seen in the frescoes, and that similarities with these frescoes can be used to identify his hand in other works, such as the present lot. In particular, the Christ Child in the Nativity in Spoleto shares with the present Christ Child a round head, “herculean” proportions, chubby legs, and foreshortened hands. Further, the face of the youthful angel closest to the Christ Child here closely resembles the face of an angel in the Spoleto Coronation of the Virgin.

Fra Diamante was also closely influenced by Francesco di Stefano, called Pesellino, and Tronconi dates the present lot to the 1470s, after Diamante’s return from Spoleto, when he was fully under the sway of the artist. His style here is very smooth and the gemstones on the Virgin’s robe are treated with extra attention.

1. Berenson 1927, p. 24. 

2. Tronconi 2014, p. 74.