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Bernardino di Mariotto dello Stagno (active Umbria 1498-1566)
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Bernardino di Mariotto dello Stagno (active Umbria 1498-1566)

The Marriage of the Virgin: panel from a predella

Bernardino di Mariotto dello Stagno (active Umbria 1498-1566)
The Marriage of the Virgin: panel from a predella
oil on panel
10 x 23½ in. (25.4 x 59.7 cm.)
with Agnew's, London, before 1900.
Robert and Evelyn Benson, London and Buckhurst, Sussex, by 1910.
with Duveen Brothers, New York, 1927.
J.A. Crowe and G.B. Cavalcaselle, A History of Painting in Italy, ed. T. Borenius, London, V, 1914, p. 419.
[R. Benson], Catalogue of Italian Pictures collected by Robert and Evelyn Benson, London, 1914, pp. 97-8, no. 51.
U. Gnoli, Pittori e Miniatori nell' Umbria, Spoleto, 1923, p. 70; reprinted, Foligno, 1980.
R. van Marle, The Development of Italian Schools of Painting, The Hague, XIV, 1933, p. 490, fig. 317.
F. Todini, La Pittura Umbra dal Duecento al Primo Cinquecento, Milan, 1989, I, p. 33.
London, Burlington Fine Arts Club, Pictures of the Umbrian School, 1910, no. 15.
Manchester, City Art Gallery, Loan exhibition of the Benson Collection of Old Italian Masters, 27 April-30 July 1927, no. 88.
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Lot Essay

Bernardino di Mariotto was in some ways the most individual Perugian painter of his generation. Trained apparently in a somewhat conservative workshop, he never became a slavish dependent on the example of Perugino, as so many of his contemporaries did. This was largely because, while maintaining a connection with Perugia where he obtained a number of altarpiece commissions for lesser churches, he was based for much of the period between 1502 and 1521 at San Severino in the Marche, where he absorbed the influence of the last significant local master, Lorenzo d'Allessandro: he also studied works by the Cortonese Luca Signorelli, who obtained a number of Marchigian commissions, and Crivelli. When in the Benson collection, this picture was accompanied by a pendant of the Visitation. That the main characters in both are placed to the right of the centre of the compositions may imply that the altarpiece of which the panels constituted the predella was intended for an altar on the left side of a church or chapel. The Marriage of the Virgin suggests an awareness on Bernardino's part of the panel of the subject in the predella of Perugino's altarpiece of 1491 at Fano. While relatively common throughout central Italy the subject had a particular relevance for Perugia, where the Virgin's wedding ring, stolen from Chiusi, was quickly established as the most celebrated relic in the city: a chapel in the Duomo was planned by 1486, although Perugino's altarpiece of the subject intended for this, now at Caen, was not delivered until 1504.

Robert Henry Benson (1850-1929), a prominent banker, married Evelyn Holford, daughter of the notable collector, Robert Stayner Holford, of Dorchester House and Westonbirt, niece of Robert Loyd-Lindsay, 1st Baron Wantage, also a senior collector, and niece by marriage of another outstanding collector, Alexander, 25th Earl of Crawford, author of History of Christian Art. Both Benson and his wife shared a serious interest in early Italian pictures; and the collection they began to put together in the late nineteenth century was by any standard remarkable. This was sold en bloc to Duveen, and as a result most of the ouststanding pictures from it are now in American collections: these include Bellini's Saint Jerome, Dosso's Circe, Giorgione's Benson Adoration and works by Duccio, Benvenuto di Giovanni and Carpaccio in the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Lord Duveen presented the early Correggio, Christ taking leave of his Mother to the National Gallery, of which Benson had become a trustee in 1912.

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