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Old Master Paintings – Part 1

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PIETRO DI DOMENICO 1457 SIENA CA. 1501/ 1533 MADONNA AND CHILD WITH TWO ANGELS Tempera on panel, gold ground. 59.3 x 39 cm. Important Sienese Renaissance work of museum quality - formerly Metropolitan Museum New York on loan, from the collection of George and Florence Blumenthal. The portrait format panel painting is one of most important works by Pietro di Domenico. The master depicts densely crowded figures against a tooled gold ground. The painting shows the iconography of The Nursing Madonna. The Virgin, who is offering her breast to the Child, dominates the centre of the painting and is depicted in three-quarter length portrait. The Virgin is wearing a red dress and a still easily recognizable dark green cloak. She is turned slightly to the left looking at her Child, which is in turn holding his mother’s gaze. Both hands of the boy are folded around his mother’s wrist while she is supporting the seated Child in an upright position. The figures’ gaze and their body and hand postures suggest their close bond, a mature composition for this artist and also for its time. The two angels in the background are deliberately kept at a distance to this intimate scene: only the angel on the left attentively glances over the shoulder of the Virgin towards the Child, while the gaze of angel on the opposite side is slightly lost and outwards, towards the viewer as an inviting gesture for adoration. This emphasises the painting’s purpose as a devotional picture. Characteristically both angels are also holding their hands in a gesture of prayer with only their fingertips touching, indicating a type of protective shield that enhances the intimate feel of the scene. These motifs are absent from other works by the master with the same subject, which suggests that the painting on offer for sale here is one of his late works (see below, Lit.: 2011). There are other stylistic features in addition to these details, which also indicate the master’s painting technique and demonstrate the painting’s high quality. Unlike another work by Di Domenico also depicting the iconography of The Nursing Madonna, the Child’s mouth is not latched onto the Virgin’s breast. This leaves room for speculation whether the act of breastfeeding is about to start or has been concluded, which would give rise to various interpretations. Other elements in the detailing also deserve to be appreciated: the gold ground in the background of the figures is very deliberately painted smoothly as a “sky”, only interrupted by the tooled marks of the halos and the border along the top edge, while the tooled marks of the Virgin’s dress are executed much more finely and already suggests a textile structure featuring decorative motifs on a magnificent brocade fabric and are, besides, in excellent condition and executed to great effect. The brocade cushion with open lacing that the Child is seated on, is similarly executed. While the halos of the youthful angels are engraved with rays, the Virgin’s halo is inscribed with capital letters “AVE...CELO...”. These letters can be completed to read: “AVE REGINA CAELORUM” (Hail, Queen of Heaven). This is the first line of the lyrics that are, among others, sung after the evening prayer and continue “Hail, Queen of the Angels”. This explains the presence of the two angels in this context. The most closely related painting from the master is his The Virgin and Christ Child with Saint Peter and Paul (Private collection, formerly Coudert Brothers, 1888). Unlike the painting on offer for sale in this lot the Child is depicted on the Virgin’s breast in that version. Furthermore the depiction of the Child takes up a much smaller space, which is in line with previous tradition, while “our” devotional picture also emphasizes the Christ Child, which in turn suggests a more mature period of creation at the height of di Domenicos creative work. There are two known signed works by Pietro di Domenico, The Manger with Saint Martin and Saint Galgano (Pinakoteca Nazionale, Siena), and Madonna with Christ Child with Saint Jerome and Saint John the Baptist (City Art Gallery, York). The painting on offer for sale in this lot also ranks highly among the few known works by the master. Only few facts are known regarding the artist’s biography, training and career. His date of death, for instance, is debated and estimated in a period between 1501 and 1533. 1501 is the most probable date as a “Pietro di Domenico Dipintore” was accepted into the “Confraternità di San Girolamo” in 1497 and is listed as deceased in 1501. It is generally assumed that our master initially trained in Siena with Benvenuto di Giovanni (1436-ca. 1518). Furthermore the painting on offer for sale here also shows influences by Francesco di Giorgio and Matteo di Giovanni for the first time. The panel painting is in very good condition consistent with age. Only a few millimetres of the top edge were cut at a very early age, several narrow cracks only visible on the reverse, and unnoticeable at the front due to restoration. The panel has been sanded at an early date to avoid warping and two transverse parquetting slats and bordering slats are attached. Restored. (†) Provenance: Between 1905 to at least 1909 Collection of Conte Giulio Sterbini, Rome. Then probably Sangiorgi, Rome. Until 1911: George and Florence Blumenthal, New York. In 1911 the painting was given on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv. no. 41.190.22). In 2015 the painting was sold at Sotheby’s, New York. Then private collection, Switzerland. Documentation and bibliographical references: The painting on offer for sale in this lot features extensive documentation due to its prominent provenance. Illustrated in the following publications: S. Rubinstein-Bloch, Gemälde Frühe Schulen, catalogue of the collection of George and Florence Blumenthal, vol. I, Paris 1926, ill. plate XXXIII. A. Lusini und P. Misciattelli, La donna senese del Rinascimento, Anno II., Fasc. IV, in: LA DIANA, 2, no. 4, 1927. With ill. p. 233. There owner reference: New York Raccolta Blumenthal. F. Zeri and E.E. Gardner, Italienische Malerei, Ein Katalog der Sammlung des Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sienesische und Mittelitalienische Schulen, New York 1980, p. 65, full-page illustration, plate 73. K. Baetjer, Europäische Gemälde im Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 1995, A Summary Catalogue, vol. I, with ill. p. 65. Further documentation and comparative literature: B.B. Fredericksen and F. Zeri, Volkszählung italienischer Gemälde aus dem 19. Jahrhundert in den öffentlichen Sammlungen Nordamerikas, Cambridge, Mass. 1972, pp. 165, 347, 608. K. Baetjer, Europäische Gemälde im Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 1980, vol. I, p. 142. K. Christiansen , L. B. Kanter, C. Brandon-Strehkle, Gemälde in der Renaissance Siena 1420-1500, exhibition catalogue, New York 1988, p. 345. M. S. Frinta. Punched Decoration on Late Medieval Panel and Miniature Painting, 1998, part 1, p. 473, with ill. of the tooling. A. Rauch, “Malerei der Frührenaissance (Florence and Siena)”, in: Renaissance, Kunst und Architektur des 15. und 16. Jahrhunderts in Europa, Parragon publisher 2011. € 80.000 - € 120.000 Sistrix INFO | BID 22 HAMPEL ONLINE Visit for around 6.000 additional images.