• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2135

    Important Old Master Paintings and Sculpture

    28 January 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 60

    Marco Marziale active Venice 1492-1507

    The Adoration of the Magi

    Price Realised  

    Marco Marziale active Venice 1492-1507
    The Adoration of the Magi
    oil on canvas
    30¾ x 37 in. 76.2 x 94 cm.


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Contact the department

    Marco Marziale is known primarily through two signed and dated altarpieces painted for churches in Cremona: The Circumcision commissioned for San Silvestro and The Virgin and Child enthroned with Saints Gall, John the Baptist, Roch (?) and Bartholomew for San Gallo (both National Gallery, London). Comparison to these works allows us to safely place the present painting among the dozen or so works ascribed to him.

    In this Adoration of the Magi, Marco Marziale shows his hard-edge, descriptive style. His figures are tightly spaced and ordered within the composition and are characteristically slightly wooden. The attention to details of costume, in which the artist normally delighted, is seen here only in the ferronnerie damask silk cloak of the kneeling figure of Melchior and may previously have been more prominent in the painting. Marziale does not hesitate to borrow from Bellini's pictorial vocabulary, however. The arrangement of the Madonna and Child is a direct quote from The Madonna and Child with saints and donors, known as the Pourtalès Madonna (Pierpont Morgan Library, New York), which was produced in Bellini's studio. The Magus Caspar, standing in prayer to the left of the Holy Family, is first used by Marziale in The Circumcision (dated 1499; Museo Correr, Venice) and again in the Cremona altarpiece, but the appearance of the same figure in The Circumcision from Bellini's workshop (National Gallery, London) suggests that it too was borrowed. The frieze-like arrangement of the figures in a panoramic landscape is reminiscent of the Adoration of Magi, once thought to be by Bellini and now given to his workshop (National Gallery, London).

    We are grateful to Professor Peter Humfrey for suggesting the attribution to Marco Marziale, on the basis of photographs (private communication, 2 November 2008). Professor Humfrey dates the painting to circa 1495-1500.

    Provenance

    M. van Gelder, 1914 (according to a label on the reverse).
    with Newhouse Galleries, New York, as 'Carpaccio and Studio'.
    Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM THE VIRGINIA MUSEUM OF FINE ART, SOLD TO BENEFIT THE ACQUISITIONS FUND


    Literature

    P. Grigaut, et al., European Art in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts: a catalogue, Richmond, 1966, p. 15, as 'Venetian School, early 16th century'.
    B. Fredericksen and F. Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1972, pp. 246, 272 and 629, as 'Venetian School, 15th century'.
    F. Heinemann, Giovanni Bellini e i Belliniani, Supplemento e Ampliamenti, New York, 1991, p. 17, no. 135ae, fig. 136, as 'late work of Giovanni Mansueti'.