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Core Record

Title Virgin and Child with St Joseph and Donor (Paul Withypool)
Alternative Title Withypool Triptych (central panel)
Collection Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery
Artist Solario, Antonio (Italian painter, active 1502-1514)
Date 1514 (dated)
Signed yes
Description The Holy Family are depicted with the English donor Paul Withypool (d. 1547). Clutching a goldfinch, symbolic of the Passion, the Christ child lies on a marble slab which is intentionally reminiscent of both a tomb and an altar. The painting forms the central panel of a triptych with double-sided wings which were presumably intended to close. This format would have been unusual in early Renaissance Italy, and was probably informed by Withypool's northern tastes. Withypool may have commissioned the work from Antonio Solario while on business in Italy. The cartellino implores the Virgin to intercede for the donor's soul.
Current Accession Number K1394
Inscription front lr 'ANO DNI MDXIIII ANTONIO DESOLARIO VENETUS PINXIT'; 'ORATE PRO ANIMA PAULI WITHIPOL'
Subject religion (Holy Family, Virgin and Child, St Joseph, angel); portrait (Paul Withypool); animal (goldfinch); landscape
Measurements 77.4 x 89.5 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil [?] on canvas (laid on panel; hardwood {oak})
Acquisition Details Purchased from the Duke of St Albans 1937.
Provenance Commissioned from the artist by Paul Withypool, 1514-1547; by descent through the Withypool family, Sudbourne Hall, Suffolk, 1547- before 1749; acquired by Lord Hereford or his ancestors with Sudbourne Hall, Suffolk, before 1749.
Principal Exhibitions British Portraits, Royal Academy, London, 1956-57, cat. no. 8; Gothic: Art for England 1400-1547, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2003, cat. no. 135.
Publications Falcke, S., 'A Triptych by Antonio da Solario', Burlington Magazine, November 1936, p.229 -30, ill.; Moore Smith, G. C., The Family of Withypoll, Walthamstow, 1936; Bodkin, T., Dismembered Masterpieces: a Plea for their Reconstruction by International Action, London, 1945, pl. 63; Blunt, A. and M. Whinney (eds), The Nation's Pictures: a Guide to the Chief National and Municipal Galleries of England, Scotland and Wales, London, 1950, pl. 38a; Berenson, B. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Venetian School, 1957, I, pl. 556; Davies, M., The National Gallery Catalogues: The Earlier Italian Schools, London, 1961, pp. 492-94; Catalogue of Oil Paintings, City Art Gallery, Bristol, Bristol, 1970, no. K1342 [sic], p. 181, ill.; Sutton, D., 'Aspects of British Collecting. I: Early Patrons and Collectors', Apollo, November 1981, pp. 282-97; Steer, S., Antonio De Solario, Paul Withipool and the Withipool Triptych, unpublished BA dissertation, University of Bristol, 1998; Foister, S., in Gothic: Art for England 1400-1547, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2003, cat. no. 135, p. 275, ill.
Notes

The side panels are on long-term loan from the National Gallery (NG646; NG647). These depict saints Catherine and Ursula and are decorated on their reverses with medallions of John the Baptist and St Paul, the arms of the donor and his wife, and bear inscriptions with the Angel Gabriel's salutation to the Virgin Mary.

The original frame, an integral feature of the work, is lost.

The antiquary Thomas Martin described the painting in detail after a visit to Sudbourne Hall, Suffolk, 1749, by which date the house belonged to Lord Hereford, but it was previously in the possession of the Withypool family. The triptych presumably functioned as an altarpiece in the family chapel.

Variants of Withypool's name include Withypoll, Withipole, and Vedipolo (in Italy).

Rights Owner Bristol's Museums, Galleries & Archives
Author Dr Susan Steer
 

 

 

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