• Old Master & 19th Century Pain auction at Christies

    Sale 2282

    Old Master & 19th Century Paintings, Drawings, & Watercolors

    27 January 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 3

    Francesco Granacci (Villamagna 1469-1543 Florence)

    Madonna delle Cintola with Saints Benedict, Thomas, Francis and Julian

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Francesco Granacci (Villamagna 1469-1543 Florence)
    Madonna delle Cintola with Saints Benedict, Thomas, Francis and Julian
    incribed 'ASSVMPTA EST MARIA IN CELUM' (on the tomb)
    oil on panel
    85 x 71 in. (216 x 180.5 cm.)


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    This impressive altarpiece panel which has at various times been attributed to Ridolfo Ghirlandaio, Raphael and Fra Bartolommeo is actually documented as being painted by Francesco Granacci in 1505 for the Compagnia San Benedetto in Palco. The confraternity was based in the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence and it is likely that this large-scale devotional panel was displayed in its meeting room.

    Granacci studied with Domenico Ghirlandaio in whose workshop he trained along with Michelangelo, and his paintings also bear the influence of Fra Bartolommeo. The San Benedetto in Palco altarpiece shows the sculptural depiction of drapery deriving from Michelangelo combined with the more classical composition and poses of Fra Bartolommeo. It can be compared to a slightly later work done for the Medici Chapel in the now-destroyed church of San Pietro Maggiore in Florence (now in Sarasota, Ringling Museum of Art).

    The subject, as well as the inclusion of specific saints and the documentary evidence, confirms the link between this altarpiece and the Compagnia di San Benedetto Nero. The confraternity held a special devotion to the Assumption of the Virgin (celebrated on 15 August), hence the subject. The Virgin is surrounded by Saints Benedict and Julian, patron saints of the Compagnia. Benedict is identified by the rod he is holding, which he used to sprinkle holy water, and Julian is carrying a drawn sword. The kneeling figures are Saint Francis, in his customary habit, and Saint Thomas, who reaches for the Virgin's girdle which she sent down to the apostle as a sign of her ascension. The inclusion of Saint Thomas was popular among Florentine artists as a relic of the Virgin's girdle was in the nearby town of Prato.

    There are two silverpoint drawings related to this composition, one for the head of Saint Francis, the other for the hands of Saint Thomas (Uffizi, inv. 186F, 14516F).

    Provenance

    Commissioned by the Compagnia San Benedetto in Palco (later known as the Compagnia di San Benedetto Nero) for their meeting room at Chiostro della Porta, Santa Maria Novella, Florence.
    (Possibly) Pisa Cathedral (according to G.F. Waagen).
    Sir James Wright, 1st Bt. (c.1717-1803), by 1792.
    Edward Solly (1776-1844), London, by 1838; (+) Christie's, 8 May 1847, lot 41, as 'Raphael, possibly completed by Fra Bartolommeo'.
    George Guy Greville, 4th Earl of Warwick (1818-1893), by 1857, and by descent to
    Charles Guy Fulke Greville, 7th Earl of Warwick (1911-1984), Warwick Castle, Warwickshire; Christie's, 21 June 1968, lot 56.


    Literature

    G.F. Waagen, Kunstwerke und Künstler in England, Berlin, 1838, II pp. 3-4, as 'Raphael and Ridolfo Ghirlandaio'.
    G.F. Waagen, Arts and Artists in England, London, 1838, II, pp. 188-189, as 'Raphael and Ridolfo Ghirlandaio'.
    J.D. Passavant, Rafael von Urbino und sein Vater Giovanni Santi, Leipzig, 1839, I, p. 130; II, p. 414, no. 271a.
    G.F. Waagen, Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain, London, 1857, IV, p. 499, as 'Raphael and Ridolfo Ghirlandaio'.
    W. Bürger, Trésors d'art en Angleterre, Paris, 1865, p. 48, as 'Raphael and Fra Bartolommeo'.
    J.A. Crowe and G.B. Cavalcaselle, A New History of Painting in Italy, London, 1866, III, p. 540.
    J.A. Crowe and G.B. Cavalcaselle, Geschichte der italienischen Malerei, Leipzig, 1871, IV, p. 546, note 104, as 'stylistically between Ridolofo Ghirlandaio and Granacci'.
    J.D. Passavant, Raphael of Urbino and His Father Giovanni Santi, London, 1872, p. 295, no. 276, as 'Raphael and assistant'.
    J.A. Crowe and G.B. Cavalcaselle, Raphael: His Life and Works, London, 1885, II, pp. 558-559.
    B. Berenson, The Florentine Painters of the Renaissance, London, 1907, p. 121.
    J. Cartwright, The Painters of Florence, London, 1916, p. 310.
    B. Berenson, The Florentine Painters of the Renaissance, London, 1909, p. 146.
    J.A. Crowe and G.B. Cavalcaselle, A History of Painting in Italy, London, 1914, VI, p. 159, note 3, as 'stylistically between Ridolfo Ghirlandaio and Granacci'.
    A. Graves, A Century of Loan Exhibitions: 1813-1912, London, 1913, I, p. 40, as 'Fra Bartolomeo and Raphael'; 1914, II, p. 996, as 'Raphael and Fra Bartolomeo'.
    A. Venturi, Storia dell'arte italiana, Milan, 1925, IX, p. 489, note 1.
    B. Berenson, Italian Painters of the Renaissance. Florentine School, London, 1963, I, p. 100.
    C. von Holst, Francesco Granacci, Munich, 1974, pp. 10, 16, 19, 26, 29, 32, 71, 138-41, 145-46, 148, 150, 152, 217, no. 17, pl. 36.
    P. Tomory, The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art: Catalogue of the Italian Paintings before 1800, Sarasota, 1976, p. 25, under no. 19.
    L. Berti, 'Per gli inizi del Rosso Fiorentino', Bollettino d'arte, LXVII, no. 18, March-April 1983, p. 49, fig. 4.
    L. Pagnotta, 'Francesco Granacci', in La pittura in Italia: Il Cinquecento, Milan, 1988, pp. 736-737.


    Exhibited

    Manchester, Art Treasures of the United Kingdom, 1857, no. 91 (in the second provisional catalogue, no. 147), as 'Raphael and Fra Bartolommeo'.