Master Paintings & Sculpture Part I

Master Paintings & Sculpture Part I

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 18. The Madonna of Humility with adoring angels.

Property from a Private New York Collection

Lorenzo Monaco and Workshop Assistant, possibly the young Fra Angelico

The Madonna of Humility with adoring angels

Auction Closed

January 27, 05:11 PM GMT


400,000 - 600,000 USD

Lot Details


Property from a Private New York Collection

Lorenzo Monaco and Workshop Assistant, possibly the young Fra Angelico

Florence circa 1370 - 1423/24

The Madonna of Humility with adoring angels

tempera on panel, gold ground

panel: 35 1/4 by 22 1/8 in.; 89.5 by 56.2 cm.

framed: 38 1/2 by 25 1/4 in.; 97.8 by 64.1 cm. 




約1370 - 1423/24年,佛羅倫斯



畫板:35 1/4 x 22 1/8 英寸;89.5 x 56.2 公分

連框:38 1/2 x 25 1/4 英寸;97.8 x 64.1 公分

Art market, Dover, England;
There acquired by Victor G. Fischer, Washington, D.C., by 1905;
From whom acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1909;
By whom sold ("Property from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sold to Benefit the European Paintings Acquisitions Fund"), New York, Christie's 29 January 2014, lot 104 (as Lorenzo Monaco and Workshop);
There acquired by the present owner. 

O. Sirén, Don Lorenzo Monaco, Strasbourg 1905, pp. 36-37, reproduced plate V (as Lorenzo Monaco);
B. Burroughs, "Principal Accessions," in Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, IV, no. 8, August 1909, pp. 141-142 (as Lorenzo Monaco);
B. Berenson, The Florentine Painters of the Renaissance, New York and London 1909, p. 154 (as an early work by Lorenzo Monaco);
M. Bernath, New York und Boston, mit 143 Abbildungen, Leipzig, 1912, p. 68 (as Lorenzo Monaco);
V. Lazareff, "Una Madonna di Lorenzo Monaco a Mosca," L'Arte, XXVII, 1924, p. 124 (as Lorenzo Monaco);
R. van Marle, The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting, The Hague 1927, IX, p. 134, reproduced fig. 87 (as Lorenzo Monaco);
W. Suida, "Lorenzo Monaco," in Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler, XXIII, Leipzig 1929, p. 392 (as Lorenzo Monaco);
B. Berenson, Pitture italiane del rinascimento, Milan 1936, p. 258 (as Lorenzo Monaco);
G. Pudelko, "The Stylistic Development of Lorenzo Monaco-I," in The Burlington Magazine, December 1938 (vol. LXXIII, no. 429), p. 238, note 13 (as Lorenzo Monaco);
H.B. Wehle, A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish and Byzantine Paintings, New York 1940, pp. 18-19 (as Lorenzo Monaco, circa 1404-1406);
G.-P. de Montebello, "Four Prophets by Lorenzo Monaco", in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, volume XXV, no. 4, December 1966, pp. 164-166, reproduced fig. 14 (as Lorenzo Monaco);
F. Zeri with E.E. Gardner, Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Florentine School, New York 1971, pp. 67-68, reproduced (as Workshop of Lorenzo Monaco and dated circa 1405-1410);
B.B. Fredericksen and F. Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteeth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections, Cambridge 1972, p. 111 (as Lorenzo Monaco);
M. Boskovits, Pittura fiorentina alla vigilia del Rinascimento, 1370-1400, Florence 1975, p. 243, under note 200, p. 350 (as Lorenzo Monaco, circa 1400-1405);
M. Laclotte and E. Mognetti, Inventaire des collections publiques françaises: Avignon - Musée du Petit Palais, Peinture Italienne, Paris 1976, p. 119, under cat. no. 199 (repeats Zeri's attribution);
M. Laclotte and E. Mognetti, Avignon, musée du Petit Palais: Peinture italienne, Paris 1987, p. 129, under cat. no. 119, (repeats Zeri's attribution);
M. Eisenberg, Lorenzo Monaco, Princeton 1989, pp. 150-151, reproduced fig. 141 (as Workshop of Lorenzo Monaco);
E. Skaug, Punch marks from Giotto to Fra Angelico, Oslo 1994, I, p. 284 (as Lorenzo Monaco);
M. Laclotte and E. Moench, Peinture italienne: musée du Petit Palais Avignon, Paris 2005, p. 125, under cat. no. 129 (repeats Zeri's attribution);
A. G. de Marchi, Revelations: Discoveries and Rediscoveries in Italian Primitive Art, Rome 2013, pp. 49-50, reproduced fig. 41.

Lorenzo Monaco was one of the leading artists of his age and the greatest proponent of the last flowering of the Gothic style of painting in Florence. While his output was robust and well delineated, the particulars of his life have remained somewhat elusive to scholars, who have yet to ascertain the year or place of his birth. He was born Piero di Giovanni and only assumed his monastic name, Lorenzo Monaco, after taking his vows in 1391 and entering the Camaldolese monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Florence. He was ordained a subdeacon in 1392 and a deacon in 1396, but at some time after this date he opened up a workshop outside of the monastery and soon became one of the most successful and sought after artists working in Florence in the early Quattrocento.  

This beautiful Madonna of Humility with two adoring angels was a devotional work likely originally intended for private display. From the noble image of the Madonna to the harmonious tones of blue, pink, and purple, this painting is exemplary of the high refinement of detail and color as well as the grand elegance of form so characteristic of Lorenzo Monaco’s work. Purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1909, it was one of the first Italian Renaissance works to enter the institution, remaining in their collection until 2013. Since the painting was first published as such by Osvald Sirén in 1905, its attribution to Lorenzo Monaco has been upheld by several art historians. Others, however, including Federico Zeri, instead have proposed an attribution to the artist’s workshop. Zeri suggested that the same workshop artist was also responsible for the Saint Laurence Triptych of 1407 (Musée du Petit Palais, Avignon), a work that Michelle Laclotte believes was designed by Lorenzo Monaco and painted under direct supervision. In more recent years, new information on the artist’s workshop has revealed a number of highly accomplished hands in his workshop that were well-vetted by the master and upon whom he would rely to meet the high demand for his works. 

What seems likely is that the large and noble Madonna at the center of the present composition was painted by Lorenzo Monaco, while the other figures were revised later by a talented workshop assistant. The later intervention is confirmed by changes visible in the work, both the naked eye and with technical imaging. First, the angels were originally conceived for a higher register, later lowered to their current placement, and ghosts of their original halos are faintly visible to the naked eye. Shifts and changes were also made in the figure of the Christ Child. It seems possible that the hand tasked with making the changes to this composition was the young Fra Angelico, who at this early period of his career would have still been known as Guido di Pietro, prior to his becoming a Dominican friar. All three figures are highly naturalistic, particularly in the proportions of the Christ-Child, and all are rendered with astonishing quality and detail, from the cross-hatched highlights, to the string tie holding the collar of Christ’s cape together, and to the flowing ribbons that twist convincingly across and around the angels. Such distinct stylistic elements further point to the hand of the young Fra Angelico. 

Although the present work may have been started during the first decade of the fifteenth century, it probably dates to about 1412-1413 and possibly as late as 1414, a proposed execution date later than what has historically been proposed in the literature (circa 1403-1410). Another autograph version of this composition of a slightly earlier date is today in the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow (inv. no. 144), and it differs only in the details of the Virgin’s veil and the tonalities of the colors. The central portion of the work also is recorded in a tondo formerly in the collection of the Early of Southesk, described by Eisenberg as a modern copy.