Private Collection, Florence
Hahn Brothers, New York (according to a label on the frame)
Carlo de Carlo, sold Semezato, Florence, part II, April 2001, lot 106
Raffaele Casciaro, La scultura lignea lombarda del Rinascimento, Milan, 2000, pp. 84, 284-285, p.92, fig.100 (illus.)
Raffaele Casciaro, "Master of Trognano" in Masterpieces of Renaissance Sculpture. Eight Rediscoveries, Salander O'Reilly Galleries, November 29, 2001 to February 2, 2002, pp.78-86.
The present relief, in its delicate carving, facial types and depiction of space, relates directly to the work of the finest of the late 15th century Lombard sculptors. The ascription of the present relief to the ‘Master of Trognano’ is based on its relationship with a relief of the Adoration of the Shepherds originally in Trognano, now in the Pinacoteca Malaspina in Pavia (fig. 1).
Raffaele Casciaro (Masterpieces…, op.cit., p.83) explains that the sculptor who created the Adoration relief was a wood carver with in-depth knowledge of Mantegna’s prints as well as a Prevedari print based on a drawing by Bramante of 1481. The architecture depicted in the present relief is an obvious quote from the Prevedari print. A number of other features in the present sculpture are analogous to the Adoration relief, including the foreshortened faces and bodies, sculpted in very low relief, which nevertheless are able to create a sense of space overall. The sweet and delicate faces combined with the heavy eye-lids, which are characteristically Lombard, as well as the drapery and physiognomy of the angels are all clearly comparable.
Bartolomeo da Como was connected to the master Antonio Amadeo, and from 1478 to 1500, he collaborated with some of the most prestigious workshops in Milan. He was also one of the six sculptors who worked on the choir of the Church of Santa Maria del Monte sopra Varese which originally contained four reliefs of the Passion directly relating to the Adoration of the Shepherds relief in style and in part, in provenance. This historical and stylistic connection makes a correlation between the ‘Master’ and da Como, both of whose style of carving has been defined as “refined and fluid”, inevitable.
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