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Core Record

Title Madonna and Child
Alternative Title Virgin and Child
Collection Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery
Artist Attributed to school of Pontormo (Italian painter and draftsman, 1494-1557)
Previously attributed to circle of Macchietti, Girolamo (Italian painter, 1535-1592)
Previously attributed to school of Buonarroti, Michelangelo (Italian sculptor, painter, and architect, 1475-1564)
Previously attributed to after Bronzino, Agnolo (Italian painter and draftsman, 1503-1572)
Previously attributed to after Raphael (Italian painter and draftsman, 1483-1520)
Previously attributed to Italian (Florentine) School
Date Earliest probably about 1525
Date Latest probably about 1550

The Virgin is represented in pink and lilac robes as a half-length figure standing before a ledge. She looks down at the plump, curly-haired Christ child, swaddled in a white cloth, who lies asleep on the ledge. The Virgin's head is bare and her hair rests on her right shoulder. Both mother and child have a nimbus.

Current Accession Number 1910-62
Subject religion (Virgin and Child); figure
Measurements 85.7 x 66 cm.0 cm (estimate)
Material oil and tempera on panel
Acquisition Details Given by Sir Kenneth Muir Mackenzie 1910.
Provenance Collection of William Graham M.P. (1817-1885); by marriage to Kenneth Augustus Muir Mackenzie from 1874; on loan to Nottingham Castle Museum (then Midland Counties Art Museum) from 1879.
Publications Wallis, G. H., Illustrated Catalogue of the Permanent Collection, City of Nottingham Museum and Art Gallery, Nottingham Castle, 1913, 2nd edn, p. 106, as Virgin and Child) 'After Raphael'; Jubilee Exhibition 1878-1928, City of Nottingham Art Gallery, 1928, illustration only (the painting is illustrated erroneously in the catalogue as cat. no. 85 by Francesco Mazzuolo Parmegiano).


Inscriptions on the back: 1. white label: '44'; 2. label: Royal Academy of Arts, winter exhibition, 1962 - artist, date and title given as: 'Michelangelo, School, c.1525 / Madonna / Serial number, 324' (this relates to the painting's near inclusion in the Royal Academy winter exhibition of 1962 - it was returned at the last minute by the exhibition organisers); 3. NCM accession number; 4. in black paint: '427' (;).

Between 1984 and 1985, a research assistant, Dr Brendan Cassidy, was employed by Nottingham Castle Museum to research and write a catalogue of the foreign oil paintings in their collection. The catalogue never materialised, but drafts and notes relating to Cassidy's research can be found in the Artist Files and in the archive at the museum. All references to Cassidy relate to these documents.

This painting has been re-attributed by Rebecca Virag in 2004 on the basis of evidence in the museum's documentation, which suggests that the majority opinion has been that this work is very likely to be by a follower of Pontormo. This attribution replaces the current one given by Cassidy about 1984 of 'Florentine School, c.1535-40'.

This attribution has been suggested several times in the past: 1. John Shearman, Princeton University (letter dated 21 March 1985, to Cassidy): 'I would suggest an artist close to Pontormo'; 2. Phillip Pouncey, Sotheby's, London (letter, dated 13 July 1984, to Cassidy): 'The elaborate, but at the same time, unrealistic drapery suggests a remote descent from Pontormo' - Pouncey also suggests that the author of the painting might be 'some minor personality like Bizzelli'; 3. Alastair Stewart, a picture restorer (letter dated 26 Feburary 1958, to Clement Pitman): 'This lovely painting on panel, which I am inclined to attribute to Jacopo Carrucci called Da Pontormo (1494-1557) or his school' and (letter dated 28 March 1958, to Pitman): 'I have [...] found a female model who occurs in his paintings with a distinct resemblance to the Virgin in the picture, apart from other similarities in the handling of the draperies, etc'.

The painting entered the collection as a work after Raphael and was re-attributed in the 1960s as School of Michelangelo. Other suggestions have included: 1. nineteenth-century fabrication (Benedict Nicolson, The Burlington Magazine, letter to Eric Laws, dated 29 December 1961, outlining the reasons for the painting's rejection from the 1962 Royal Academy Winter exhibition); 2. after Bronzino (Cassidy, about 1984); 3. circle of Girolamo Macchietti (Cassidy, about 1984; based on a version of the painting attributed to Macchietti that was sold at Sotheby's, London, 8 April 1981, lot 45).

Baron Kenneth Augustus Muir-Mackenzie (P.C., G.C.B., K.C.B., KC, C.B., J.P.) was born on 29 June 1845, the fourth son of Sir John William Pitt Muir-Mackenzie, second baron of Delvine, Perthshire, and Sophia Matilda, fifth daughter of James Raymond Johnstone of Alva, County Clackmannan.

He was educated at Charterhouse and Balliol College, Oxford. In 1874 he married Amy Graham, one of the daughters of William Graham, M.P. for Glasgow. They had four children, a son William Montague, who died in 1900, and three daughters. He was made Barrister at Lincoln's Inn in 1878 and appointed Permanent Principal Secretary to the Lord Chancellor in 1880. In 1884 he was created Clerk of the Crown in Chancery and in 1892, Companion of the Order of Bath. He was knighted in 1898 and created Baron Muir Mackenzie on his retirement from office in 1915. He died in London on 22 May 1930.

Although Kenneth Muir Mackenzie did not have any local connection with Nottingham, he loaned 103 paintings to the art gallery soon after it opened in 1878. The first of these arrived on 5 March 1879 from Graham House, Cathedral Street, Glasgow. This was the address of Mackenzie's father-in-law, William Graham M.P., from whose art collection he inherited most of the paintings he later gave to Nottingham Castle Museum. In 1886 a number of the loaned paintings were recalled for the sale of William Graham's collection at Christie's in March and April of that year. Madonna and Child was given by Sir Kenneth Muir Augustus Mackenzie to Nottingham Castle Museum on 10 May 1910.

References: Who Was Who, vol. 3, 1929-40, London, 1947, p. 979; Donor File 1910-52-65, Nottingham Castle Museum archive Loan Ledger A (Day Book A), Nottingham Castle Museum archive; www.naa.gov.au; www.nga.gov/

Rights Owner Nottingham City Museums and Galleries: Nottingham Castle
Author Dr Rebecca Virag



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