Old Master Paintings & Works on Paper Day Auction

Old Master Paintings & Works on Paper Day Auction

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 116. The Holy Family in Joseph’s Workshop, or 'Le Raboteur'.

Property from a Private Collection

Follower of Annibale Carracci

The Holy Family in Joseph’s Workshop, or 'Le Raboteur'

Lot Closed

July 4, 09:16 AM GMT


10,000 - 15,000 GBP

Lot Details


Property from a Private Collection

Follower of Annibale Carracci

The Holy Family in Joseph’s Workshop, or 'Le Raboteur'

oil on canvas

unframed: 57.8 x 73.6 cm.; 22¾ x 29 in.

framed: 85.5 x 101.2 cm.; 33⅝ x 39⅞ in.

M. de la Ravois (first recorded in Dubois de Saint-Gelais 1727; possibly identifiable as Jean Néret de la Ravoye (1643–1701), as referenced in London 1938; see Literature);

Louis, Duc d’Orléans (1703–1752), Palais Royal, Paris, by 1727;

Thence by descent;

Until sold to Édouard Walkiers (1758–1837), Paris, 1791;

By whom sold to his cousin, François Louis Jean-Joseph de Laborde (1761–1801), Paris, who brought the picture to London in 1792;

By whom sold to Jeremias Harman (1763–1844), London;

By whom sold to Michael Bryan (1757–1821) on behalf of a consortium composed of Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater (1736–1803), George Granville Leveson-Gower, subsequently 1st Duke of Sutherland (1758–1833) and Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle (1748–1825), London, 1798;

By whom sold by private contract, London, Mr. Bryan's Gallery, 26 December 1798, no. 29, for 300 guineas (as Annibale Carracci);

Where acquired by John Howard, 15th Earl of Suffolk and 8th Earl of Berkshire (1738/39–1820), Charlton Park, Wiltshire;

Thence by descent.

L.-F. Dubois de Saint-Gelais, Description des tableaux du Palais Royal, Paris 1727, pp. 41–42 (as Annibale Carracci; see also the Geneva 1972 ed.);

Abbé de Fontenai, Galerie du Palais Royal, Paris 1786, vol. I, n. p. (as Annibale Carracci);

Catalogue of Pictures of the Italian and Spanish Schools, exh. cat., London 1816, p. 15, no. 73 (as Annibale Carracci);

W. Buchanan, Memoirs of painting: with a chronological history of the importation of pictures by the great masters into England since the French Revolution, London 1824, vol. I, p. 79, no. 1 (as Annibale Carracci);

E.A. Réveil, Musée de peinture et de sculpture, ou recueil des principaux tableaux, statues et bas-reliefs des collections publiques et particuliéres de l'Europe, Paris 1831, vol. XI, p. 763 (as Annibale Carracci);

G.F. Waagen, Kunstwerke und Künstler in England, Berlin 1837, vol. I, p. 498, no. 21 (as Annibale Carracci);

G. Rosini, Storia della pittura italiana esposta coi monumenti, Pisa 1847, vol. VII, p. 43, no. 34 (and subsequent eds) (as Giuseppe Maria Crespi);

Catalogue of Pictures by Italian, Spanish, Flemish, Dutch, French and English Masters, exh. cat., London 1851, no. 8 (as Annibale Carracci);

'The British Institution: The Ancient Masters', in The Art Journal, 1 July 1851, vol. 3, p. 199 (as Annibale Carracci);

G.F. Waagen, Treasures of art in Great Britain, London 1854, vol. II, appendix B, p. 488, no. 21 (as Annibale Carracci);

The Illustrated London News, 8 November 1856, vol. XXIX, no. 829, p. 475 (as Annibale Carracci);

'Romance of the stolen pictures', in The Athenaeum, 13 February 1858, no. 1581, p. 210 (as Annibale Carracci);

E. Littell, Littell's Living Age, Boston and New York 1858, vol. 57, p. 319 (as Annibale Carracci);

G. Scharf, Artistic and descriptive notes on the most remarkable pictures in the British Institution exhibition of the ancient masters, exh. cat., London 1858, pp. 21–22, no. 42 (as Annibale Carracci);

'The Ancient Masters at the British Institution, 1858', in The Saturday Review of Politics, Science, and Art, 11 September 1858, vol. 6, no. 150, p. 255 (as Annibale Carracci);

'Miscellaneous News', in The Examiner, 18 September 1858, p. 602 (as Annibale Carracci);

A. Jameson, Legends of the Madonna as represented in the fine arts, Boston 1866, p. 391 (as Annibale Carracci);

'Proceedings of the Congress', in The Journal of the British Archaeological Association, London 1869, p. 294 (as Annibale Carracci);

Exhibition of the Works of the Old Masters, exh. cat., London 1870, p. 3, no. 8 (as Annibale Carracci);

E.J. Poynter and P.R. Head, Classic and Italian painting, London 1880, p. 195 (and subsequent eds) (as Annibale Carracci);

C. Stryienski, La galerie du Régent, Philippe, duc d'Orléans, Paris 1913, p. 168, no. 225 (as Annibale Carracci);

H. Voss, Die Malerei des Barock in Rom, Berlin 1924, p. 689 (as probably not an entirely autograph picture);

Italian Art of the Seventeenth Century, exh. cat., London 1925, pp. 22–23, no. 17, reproduced pl. III (as Annibale Carraci);

Exhibition of Italian Art 1200–1900, exh. cat., London 1930, p. 339, no. 741 (as Annibale Carracci);

Italian Art: An illustrated souvenir of the exhibition of Italian art at Burlington House London, exh. cat., London 1930, reproduced on p. 81, fig. 137 (as Annibale Carracci);

D. Lindsay Balniel and K. Clark (eds), A commemorative catalogue of the exhibition of Italian art held in the galleries of the Royal Academy, exh. cat., London 1931, no. 461 (as Annibale Carracci);

17th Century Art in Europe, exh. cat., London 1938, p. 124, no. 306 (as Annibale Carracci);

R. Wittkower, The drawings of the Carracci in the collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle, London 1952, p. 158, under no. 439 (as Annibale Carracci and studio);

D. Posner, Annibale Carracci: A study in the reform of Italian painting around 1590, London 1971, vol. I, p. 166, n. 49 (as follower of Annibale Carracci, after 1600);

K. Roberts, 'London', in The Burlington Magazine, vol. 117, no. 863, February 1975, p. 123, reproduced on p. 125, fig. 71 (as incorrectly attributed to Annibale Carracci);

J.D. Passavant and C.J. Bailey, Tour of a German artist in England: with notices of private galleries, and remarks on the state of art, Wakefield 1978 ed., vol. I, p. 184, no. 11 (as Annibale Carracci; a republication of the catalogues of pictures from the Orléans Gallery offered for sale in 1798 at Mr. Bryan's Gallery and the Lyceum);

E. Borea, Annibale Carracci e i suoi incisori, exh. cat., Rome 1986, p. 269, under A18 (as attributed to Annibale Carracci);

V.I. Schmid (ed.), The Orléans Collection, exh. cat., New Orleans 2018, p. 209, no. 38 (listed as previously part of the Orléans collection; current attribution not specified).

On long-term display in Paris, Palais Royal, Galerie Royale des tableaux d’Orléans, 1727–c. 1790 (as Annibale Carracci);

London, British Institution, 1816, no. 73 (as Annibale Carracci);

London, British Institution, June 1851, no. 8 (as Annibale Carracci);

London, British Institution, 1858, no. 42 (as Annibale Carracci);

London, Royal Academy, Exhibition of the Works of the Old Masters, 1870, no. 8 (as Annibale Carracci);

London, Burlington Fine Arts Club, Italian Art of the Seventeenth Century, 1925, no. 17 (as Annibale Carracci);

London, Royal Academy, Exhibition of Italian Art 1200–1900, 1 January – 8 March 1930, no. 741 (as Annibale Carracci);

London, Royal Academy, 17th Century Art in Europe, 3 January – 12 March 1938, no. 306 (as Annibale Carracci);

On loan to Chiswick House, London, until recently.


Jean Pesne (1623–1700), etching, 1670;

Jacques Couché (1750/59–1835?), engraving, c. 1786.

From the late seventeenth to the early twentieth century, this painting was celebrated as a fine work by Bolognese artist Annibale Carracci (1560–1609). The picture was acquired by Louis, Duc d’Orléans, and hung in the galleries at the Palais Royal, Paris, until the dispersal of the Orléans collection during the French Revolution. Upon being transferred to London, it was bought by John Howard, 15th Earl of Suffolk and 8th Earl of Berkshire, from whose grandson it was stolen in 1856, among nine other pictures.1 The announcement of the burglary in the The Illustrated London News described the painting as: '[...] a first-rate work, and worthy of the reputation of the great master'.2 Fortunately, the thief was identified as the former valet to Lord Suffolk and the pictures were returned to the family.3 The present painting has remained in the collection of their descendants ever since.

In more recent years, however, the attribution to Annibale has been dismissed. In 1924, Hermann Voss first posited the idea that the work was unlikely to be entirely autograph.4 Rudolf Wittkower echoed this sentiment in his publication of 1952, in which he described the picture as having been executed by Annibale and his studio.5 Donald Posner went further, in 1971, when he suggested that the picture was by a follower of Annibale, after 1600.6

Authorship aside, it is evident that the picture had a significant impact upon its earlier viewers and can be said to have influenced artists working over two hundred years later. Indeed, the painting's unusual subject, The Holy Family in Joseph’s Workshop, may have been a source of inspiration for Sir John Everett Millais (1829–1896), whose treatment of this scene is today in the Tate Britain, London.7

1 At that time, the other stolen works were attributed to Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), Gaspard Dughet (1615–1675), Giulio Cesare Procaccini (1574–1625), Guido Reni (1575–1642), one of the Van de Velde family, and Jan van der Heyden (1637–1712).

2 The Illustrated London News 1856, p. 475 (as Annibale Carracci). For the full reference, see Literature.

3 Littell 1858, p. 319.

4 Voss 1924, p. 689.

5 Wittkower 1952, p. 158, under no. 439.

6 Posner 1971, p. 166, n. 49.

7 Inv. no. N03584; oil on canvas, 86.4 x 139.7 cm.; https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/millais-christ-in-the-house-of-his-parents-the-carpenters-shop-n03584.