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Painting Title Madonna with Child, Saint John and Three Cherubs
Alternative Title Madonna and Child with Four Cherubs
Collection York Art Gallery
Artist After Cleve, Cornelis van (South Netherlandish painter, 1520-after 1570)
Previously attributed to Bruyn, Bartholomaeus, the elder (German painter, 1493-1555)
Date Earliest possibly about 1555
Date Latest possibly about 1600

The Virgin kneels with the Christ Child on her lap; two cherubs stand on either side. The painting is a version of the lost Madonna Corsini by Andrea del Sarto (ca. 1513). It was very popular in Italy and a few versions survive from the artist's studio. The composition was also copied by Cornelis van Cleve: a version dated about 1550 is in the Chrysler Museum of Art (Norfolk, Virginia, no. 2014.3.4), and another two were recently sold at auction (Venice, San Marco, 15 October 2006, lot 113 and Vienna, Palais Dorotheum, 17 April 2013, lot 566). The version in York clearly repeats the composition by van Cleve (in the Italian versions Jesus is looking to the right, not left).

Cornelis van Cleve was a painter from Antwerp who visited Italy and copied masterpieces by Renaissance masters; in 1555 he moved to England. The painting now in the Chrysler Museum of Art came from the collection of Sir Ralph Lawson (Brough Hall, Yorkshire) in whose family it had been for generations, traditionally attributed to Joos van de Cleve. It is conceivable that this version was actually painted by Cornelis van de Cleve in England, which could mean that YORAG : 836 may actually have been a copy created by a local artist.

Current Accession Number YORAG : 836
Subject religion (Madonna with Child, St. John and angels)
Measurements 48.3 x 36.8 cm
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Given by F.D. Lycett Green through the National Art Collections Fund 1955.
Provenance Arcade Gallery, London, from whom purchased by F.D. Lycett Green 1951.
Principal Exhibitions F.D. Lycett Green Gift, York City Art Gallery, 1955, no. 125.
Publications Nicholson, B., ‘The Lycett Green Gift to York', The Burlington Magazine, XCVII, April 1955, p. 99; York Art Gallery Catalogue - Catalogue of Paintings, Vol. I: Foreign Schools 1350-1800, City of York Art Gallery, York, 1961, p. 88 as ascribed to Bruyn; Shearman, J., Andrea del Sarto, Oxford 1965, vol. 2, cat. 32 (XIII), p. 219; Oil Paintings in Public Ownership. North Yorkshire, London, 2006, p. 251 as by Bartholomaeus Bruyn the Elder.

The attribution to Barthel Bruym the Elder was made by Dr. Grete Ring but it does not seem convincing, as the style of YORAG : 836 seem to be provincial. Of three paintings by the workshop of Andrea del Sarto (16th century) one is in the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, another in Stourhead, Wiltshire (National Trust) and one more in the collection of Lord Egremont at Petworth House, West Sussex. A copy by Michele Tosini, called Michele di Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio (Firenze 1503-1577), from the mid 16th century, is in Rome (Fondazione Sorgente Group).

Francis Denis Lycett Green (1893-1959) was a member of the wealthy industrial Green family from Wakefield that was among the great philanthropic benefactors of York. He began buying pictures during the 1920s, advised by some of the most famous art historians of the day. By the 1940s, he owned examples from almost every school and period of European Art – a comprehensive collection of over 130 paintings dating back from the early 14th century to the end of the 18th century, representing every important European school of art. In 1952, he offered it to the National Gallery of South Africa, having moved to Cape Town in the hope that the climate would improve his health (which was poor because he was badly injured in the First World War). However when a dispute arose with the Cape Town Gallery, Francis withdrew his pictures in protest and shipped them back to England. The entire collection of 130 pictures was at first on loan to the York Art Gallery and in the spring of 1955 he decided to give it to the Gallery.

Rights Owner York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)
Author Dr Magdalena Łanuszka



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