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Workshop of Andrea Mantegna (Isola di Carturo, near Padua, 1430/31-1506 Mantua)
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Workshop of Andrea Mantegna (Isola di Carturo, near Padua, 1430/31-1506 Mantua)

The Annunciation to the Shepherds - a fragment

Details
Workshop of Andrea Mantegna (Isola di Carturo, near Padua, 1430/31-1506 Mantua)
The Annunciation to the Shepherds - a fragment
oil on panel
9¾ x 6 3/8 in. (25 x 16.1 cm.)
Provenance
Jules-Albert Goupil (1840-1884), dealer with Goupil & Cie. and celebrated collector, especially of Renaissance Italian art, Paris.
Victor-Martin Le Roy (1842-1918), Paris.
Anonymous sale; Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 20 June 1957, lot 150, pl. XLVIII, as 'Workshop of Mantegna'.
Literature
C. Yriarte, Mantegna: sa vie sa maison, son tombeau, son oeuvre dans les musées et les collections, Paris, 1901, illustrated p. 215 (erroneously cited as a study for the Adoration of the Shepherds now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art).
G. Migeon, 'La Collection de Martin Le Roy', Les Arts, X, November 1902, p. 8.
A. Pératé, in Catalogue raisonné de la collection Martin Le Roy, V, Paris, 1909, pp. 35-8, no. 11, as 'Workshop of Mantegna'.
G. Lorenzetti, 'Catalogue raisonné de la collection Martin Le Roy', L'Arte, XIII, 1910, p. 236, as 'Workshop of Mantegna'.
R.E. Fry, 'Art Books...Catalogue raisonné de la collection Martin Le Roy...', Burlington Magazine, XVII, May 1910, p. 126, no. 86, as 'Attributed to the artist's son Francesco'.
S. Reinach, Repértoire de peintures du moyen âge et de la Renaissance (1280-1580), IV, Paris, 1918, p. 88, no. 1, illustrated (line engraving).
E. Tietze-Conrat, Mantegna, London, 1955, pp. 190, 196-197, as by a pupil of Mantegna.
M. Bellonci and N. Garavaglia, L'Opera completa del Mantegna, Milan, 1967, p. 87, no. 8, illustrated.
Y. Bonnefoy and N. Garavaglia, Tout l'oeuvre peint de Mantegna, Paris, 1978, p. 87, no. 8, illustrated.
K. Christiansen, 'Early Renaissance Narrative Painting in Italy', The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, XLI, no. 2, Autumn 1983, pp. 33-4, illustrated p. 33, fig. 26, as 'after Mantegna'.
R. Lightbown, Mantegna, Oxford, 1986, p. 403, cited under no. 5, pl. 35, as 'a fragment of a contemporary version'.
F. Zeri and E.E. Gardner, Italian Paintings. A Catalogue of the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art: North Italian School, Greenwich, Conn., 1986, p. 35.
K. Christiansen, in Le Muse e il principe: Arte di corte nel rinascimento padano, Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan, 1991, I, p. 312, cited under no. 78, as 'after Mantegna'.
K. Christiansen, in Andrea Mantegna, J. Martineau, ed., exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy of Arts, London; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1992, p. 127, cited under no. 8, as a 'roughly contemporary painting,' i.e. after Mantegna.
A. De Marchi, in Mantegna, 1431-1506, G. Agosti and D. Thiébaut, eds., exhibition catalogue, Musée du Louvre, Paris, 2008-2009, p. 162, cited under no. 50.
Special Notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Lot Essay

As has been recognized since its initial publication in 1901, when the panel was in the ownership of the discriminating Paris collector, Martin Le Roy, this panel is related to the background of the celebrated Adoration of the Shepherds, once at Downton and now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (no.32.130.2), painted by Mantegna in circa 1450-1, and regarded by Christiansen as the first picture in the artist's fully developed style. This fragment corresponds with the top right section of the New York composition, showing a couple advancing and behind them the angel appearing to a shepherd, but the composition is extended to the right, to show a youth beside the couple and a tree; the tree, without the youth, appears in the copy at Windsor (A.E. Popham and J. Wilde, The Italian Drawings of the XV and XVI Centuries in the Collection of His Majesty the King at Windsor Castle, London, 1949, no. 15, fig. 6; Lightbown, pl. 34) of a larger section of the right portion of the New York composition, with the two shepherds who are so prominent in that picture. Le Roy seems to have accepted that his fragment was not by Mantegna himself, and in the catalogue of his collection by Pératé argued that the artist would not have repeated himself so closely. Some of those who have subsequently written about the panel had not seen it and the condition means that its attribution may remain uncertain, but it can only have been painted in the immediate workshop of Mantegna at a time when he can have had few associates.

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