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    Sale 2135

    Important Old Master Paintings and Sculpture

    28 January 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 2

    Michelangelo di Pietro Mencherini active Lucca 1489-1521

    Saint Jerome and Saint Joseph with a donor

    Price Realised  


    This lot is offered without a reserve

    Michelangelo di Pietro Mencherini active Lucca 1489-1521
    Saint Jerome and Saint Joseph with a donor
    tempera and oil on panel, arched top
    60 x 34 in. 152.4 x 86.4 cm.

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    Previously given to the Master of the Lathrop Tondo -- an anonymous Lucchese artist so called by Bernard Berenson in 1906 after a tondo once owned by Francis Lathrop, the New York collector -- this impressive donor portrait with saints is currently believed to be the work of Michelangelo di Pietro Mencherini. Archival evidence discovered in 1987 has assisted scholars in attributing to Mencherini a number of the works previously identified with Berenson's anonymous master. Mencherini was influenced by his Florentine contemporaries, most notably Filippino Lippi and Domenico Ghirlandaio -- both of whom also carried out commissions for Lucchese patrons -- by Perugino, whose style was widely admired in Italy circa 1500; and by Flemish painters whose works were imported to Tuscany in fairly substantial numbers. The present panel was commissioned by the as yet unidentified donor, seen kneeling at the left, whose patron saint must have been St. Jerome, and possibly intended for installation in the patron's parish church. Maurizia Tazartes suggests it was painted some time after the Lathrop Tondo, which he dates to about 1496.

    This painting is also noteworthy for its impressive provenance. From the 1820s onward, the Reverend Walter Bromley-Davenport formed a significant collection of early Italian pictures, largely dispersed by his son in a series of sales at Christie's at the end of the nineteenth century. Among the other paintings once in Bromley-Davenport's collection were Giotto's Death of the Virgin (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin); the Ducciesque Crucifixion most recently attributed to the Master of Città di Castello (City Art Gallery, Manchester); and Bellini's spectacular Agony in the Garden (National Gallery, London). Charles Butler, who owned the present lot at a later point, amassed an important collection toward the end of the nineteenth century. It was particularly rich in early Italian works, but also included paintings by later artists, among them Rubens and Poussin.

    Special Notice

    This lot is offered without reserve.


    The Reverend Walter Bromley-Davenport (1787-1863), London and Capesthorne Hall, near Macclesfield, Cheshire; Christie's, London, 6 March 1897, lot 128, as 'Andrea Verrocchio', 195 gns. to
    Charles Butler (1815-1911), Warren Wood, Shortgrove, and London; Christie's, London, 22-24 May 1911, lot 109, as 'Verrocchio', 420 gns. to Battesey.
    with H. Buttery, London.
    Frölich-Bum collection, Vienna, by 1931.
    Private collection, England.
    Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 14 May 1965, lot 112 (2200 gns.)

    Pre-Lot Text



    B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Florentine School, London, 1963, I, p. 143, II, pl. 1174.
    E. Fahy, 'A Lucchese Follower of Filippino Lippi', Paragone, no. 185, July 1965, p. 22, no. 22, pl. 8.
    E. Fahy, 'Some Early Italian Pictures in the Gambier-Parry Collection', Burlington Magazine, CIX, no. 768, March 1967, p. 138, note 43.
    E. Fahy, Some Followers of Domenico Ghirlandaio, New York and London, 1976, p. 176.
    M. Tazartes, 'Maestro del Tondo Lathrop/Michelangelo di Pietro Mencherini', in F. Zeri, ed., La Pittura in Italia: Il Quattrocento, Milan, 1987, II, p. 685.
    M. Tazartes, 'Michelangelo di Pietro Mencherini, un postoiese a Lucca tra Quattrocento e Cinquecento', Storia dell'arte, no. 97, September-December 1999, pp. 303-04, fig. 7.


    Vienna, Akademie der bildenden Künste, 1931 (on loan).