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Attributed to Boccaccino, Boccaccio (Italian painter, before 1466-1525) , Virgin and Saints with a Donor

Core Record

Title Virgin and Saints with a Donor
Collection Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Artist Attributed to Boccaccino, Boccaccio (Italian painter, before 1466-1525)
Previously attributed to Previtali, Andrea (Italian painter, ca. 1470-1528)
Date Earliest about 1510
Date Latest about 1515
Description The blue-eyed, golden haired infant Jesus and his mother gaze directly at the viewer. Jesus clasps a goldfinch to his breast. According to legend, a goldfinch pulled out one of the thorns from the crown of thorns at Christ's crucifixion and its plumage was splashed with Christ's blood. The presence and signification of the bird as a symbol of Christ's redeeming sacrifice is emphasised by Mary's gesture. Surrounding the Virgin and Child are St John the Baptist carrying a scroll and a cross, St Nicholas of Bari balancing three balls upon a book, a female saint and the archangel Raphael. Most of Boccaccino's work was executed during the period 1496-1518. This sacra conversazione is much influenced by contemporary Venetian painters, notably Giovanni Bellini. This composition is close to a similar one in the Palazzo Doria, Rome (no. 558) dated by Puerari to about 1510.
Current Accession Number 1957P11
Former Accession Number P.1157
Subject religion (Holy Family, St John the Baptist, St Nicholas of Bari, Archangel Raphael, female saint)
Measurements 71.1 x 106.7 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Purchased from P. & D. Colnaghi Co. Ltd. 1957.
Provenance By descent from his parents to Michael Tennant (;); Michael Tennant Esq. of Loch-na-bo sale, Christie's, 23 November 1956, lot 46 as The Madonna and Child, enthroned with Saints John the Baptist and Nicholas of Bari, a female Saint, an archangel and the donor by Andrea Previtali, bought by Colnaghi.
Principal Exhibitions Primitives to Picasso, London, Burlington House, 1962, cat. no. 18; Winter Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, 1962, cat. no. 67; Old Masters from the City of Birmingham, Wildenstein and Co., 1970, cat. 7; Sacred Bond: Images of Motherhood, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, 1990.
Publications Connoisseur, November 1956, p. 196; Puerari, A., Boccaccino, Milan, 1957, pp. 127-8 and 230; Nicolson, B., 'Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions', Burlington Magazine, vol. 98, 1957, p. 165; Birmingham, Aperte sei sale del City Museum and Art Gallery, Emporium, vol. 129, 1959, p. 135; Heinemann, F., Giovanni Bellini e i Belliniani, vol. 1, 1962, p. 227; 'A Portfolio of Pictures', Apollo, vol. 87, 1968, p. 292; Berenson, B., Italian Pictures of the Renaissance - Central Italian and North Italian Schools, 1968, vol. 1, p. 52 Ballarin, A., Dosso Dossi. La Pittura a Ferrara negli anni del Ducato di Alfonso I vol. 1, Cassa di Risparmio di Ferrara, 1995, p. 17; Foreign Paintings in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, A Summary Catalogue, 1983, no. 10, ill.
Notes A painting by Boccaccino of the Virgin and Child holding a goldfinch against an identical curtain is in the Brera, Milan. This work can be dated to about 1510 by comparison with a similar work at the Doria Gallery, Rome (no. 558), dated by Puerari to around 1510 (p. 227 - 8). This work appears more simplified and more coarsely painted than this work. The handling of St John the Baptist is very close to that of the same figure in Madonna and Child enthroned with Saints in S. Giuliano, Venice (dated by Puerari to 1510, p. 228). The Madonna and Child group seem to have been reused by Boccaccino with small variations in the Madonna and Child group sold at Christie's, 20 March 1964, lot 66, and the head of the Archangel Raphael occurs again in the so-called Gipsy Woman (Uffizi, Florence, previously attrib. to Garofalo) illustrated by Puerari (fig. 137). Puerari dates this painting to c. 1512-13.

Label on the back which shows the painting was in Italy at the end of the 19th century (letter from P. & D. Colnaghi, 2 April 1957).

Rights Owner Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Author Dr Patricia Smyth



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