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Francesco Botticini (Florence 1446/47-1498)
Francesco Botticini (Florence 1446/47-1498)

The Madonna and Child enthroned in a niche

Francesco Botticini (Florence 1446/47-1498)
The Madonna and Child enthroned in a niche
tempera and gold on panel
27¾ x 17¾ in. (70.5 x 45.1 cm.)
Cambridge, The Fogg Art Museum, on loan by 1981.
Sale room notice
Please note the additional cataloguing for this lot:

with Dr. Benedict, Berlin, Berlin, by 1926.
On consignment from the above to Van Diemen Galleries, New York, by whom sold 14 December 1926 to
Hazkate Holding Corporation, New York, as 'Filippino Lippi' ($12,000). Sale; Kende Galleries of Gimbel Brothers, New York, 25 April 1945, as 'Filippino Lippi' ($1,400).
with Schoneman Galleries, New York, 1946, as 'Filippino Lippi', whence acquired by the family of the present owner.

(Possibly) A. Scharf, Filippino Lippi, Vienna, 1935, p. 119, no. 168, under works no longer attributed to Filippino Lippi with an attribution to the 'Master of San Miniato', following Federico Zeri.

Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1952, as 'Filippino Lippi'. St. John's Parish House, Washington, D.C., 13 November 1954-6 January 1955, no. 25 (?), as 'Filippino Lippi'.
Cambridge, The Fogg Art Museum, on loan by 1981.

Wilhelm von Bode considered the present work to be by Filippino Lippi. According to a document in the Frick Art Reference Library, the present painting was also catalogued by Dr. Richard Offner in 1928 as 'Florentine school, around 1480, under the general influence of Fra Filippo Lippi and of Botticini'.

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Lot Essay

At the age of 13, Francesco Botticini entered Neri di Bicci's workshop as a salaried assistant. However, he left after only nine months, perhaps having determined that his previous training under his father, a painter of playing cards, would be enough to allow him to work independently. By 1469, he appears to have already formed his own workshop. Botticini's oeuvre reflects the influence of many of the major Florentine artistic personalities of his time, particularly Verrocchio, Filippino Lippi, Botticelli and Perugino. He was also receptive to northern artists, such as Hans Memling and Hugo van der Goes, whose works were much appreciated in Florence. Botticini painted a number of larger-scale altarpieces such as the Tabernacle of the Sacrament for the high altar of the collegiate church of Empoli (Empoli, Museo della Collegiata di Sant'Andrea), in which figures appear in aediculae similar to the one seen in the present painting. Like his contemporaries, he also produced numerous smaller devotional paintings, many of which featured the Madonna and Child.

Botticini's elegant Virgin, with her elongated torso and golden hair, and his vivacious Christ Child owe much to the work of Sandro Botticelli. The extent of Botticini's debt to the Florentine master becomes evident when one compares the present work to Botticelli's altarpiece of the Madonna and Child with Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist of 1485 (Berlin, Gemäldegalerie). In both, one encounters beautiful Virgins with similarly proportioned bodies, conceived according to the same canon of beauty, and renderings of the Christ Child featuring comparably high foreheads and distinctive noses. Of the numerous paintings by Botticini that may be linked to the present painting, the Madonna and Child in the Baltimore Museum of Art is especially close.

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