Ferrarese School, late 15th Century
Ferrarese School, late 15th Century

The Madonna and Child enthroned

Ferrarese School, late 15th Century
The Madonna and Child enthroned
tempera on panel
29 x 21 ¾ in. (73.7 x 55.3 cm.)
Sir John Campbell, 2nd Marquess of Breadalbane (1796-1862), Taymouth Castle (and possibly previously in his apartments at Holyrood House, Edinburgh), and by descent to his sister,
Lady Elizabeth Pringle (d. 1878), and by descent to her daughter,
The Hon. Mrs Robert Baillie-Hamilton, Langton, Duns., near Berwick, Scotland (d. 1912), and by descent to her sister,
Magdalen, Lady Bateson Harvey (d. 1913), and by descent to the great-nephew by marriage of Sir Robert Bateson Harvey,
Lt.-Col. the Hon. Thomas George Breadalbane Morgan-Grenville-Gavin D.S.O., M.C., Langton, Duns., Berwickshire, and by descent to the present owner.

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Lot Essay

The composition of the present lot corresponds to a stained-glass window formerly in the Kunstgewerbe Museum, Berlin, subsequently destroyed in WWII. The window, presumably intended for a Bolognese church, was executed by a pupil of master the glassmakers Jacopo and Domenico Cabrini (active Bologna, second half of the 15th Century). It is generally believed that a cartoon by Francesco del Cossa was used as model for the design of the stained-glass window, as well as for the present panel, however no record of the original cartoon exists today.

Other examples of windows executed by Giacomo and Domenico Cabrini based on designs by Cossa include the Madonna and Child, c. 1468-60, now in the Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris and the Madonna and Child with four Angels, 1467, still in its original setting, in San Giovanni in Monte, Bologna.

In this painting, the blue veil of the Madonna has shifted to show a wonderful gold-embroidered dress decorated with pomegranate flower motifs, a detail which does not appear in the Cabrini window. The vertical decorations on the arms of the throne, which in the stained-glass appear to be carved in stone, are treated in this painting as magnificent objects of Cristallo di Rocca which reflect the surrounding landscape. The background, a river landscape with figures in rowing boats and a Netherlandish-inspired citadel, is only represented in the painting.

The picture is densely symbolic. The profusion of embellishments such as pearls, gems, coral, crystal, gold and luxurious garments almost serve as precious materials adorning a relic. The Christ child raises his eyes from the Holy Scripture to bless the viewer. The coral beaded necklace is an allusion to Christ’s future Passion, representing the blood that he will spill for humanity, and his slightly crossed feet a reference the Crucifixion. The image also alludes to the Immaculate Conception and the perpetual virginity of Mary by displaying a white knot on Mary’s abdomen which closes the blue veil, and the vegetation behind the throne, which encloses Her in an Hortus conclusus. Furthermore, the image of the Virgin reading recalls the iconography of the Annunciation, and the vegetables decorating the throne symbolize the fruit of Her womb. The complex throne itself presents the Virgin as Queen of Heavens, and she in turn acts as Sedes Sapientiae to the Child.

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