Attributed to Liberale da Verona (Verona c. 1445–1526/9)
Attributed to Liberale da Verona (Verona c. 1445–1526/9)
Attributed to Liberale da Verona (Verona c. 1445–1526/9)
Attributed to Liberale da Verona (Verona c. 1445–1526/9)
3 More
Liberale da Verona (Verona c. 1445–1526/9)

Tobias and the Angel: a cassone panel

Liberale da Verona (Verona c. 1445–1526/9)
Tobias and the Angel: a cassone panel
tempera, gold and silver on panel
21 ¾ x 68 7/8 in. (55 x 174.7 cm.)
(Possibly) Palazzo Ducale, Urbino.
Marczell de Nemes, Budapest; his sale, Frederik Muller & Cie, Amsterdam, 13 November 1928 (=1st day), lot 15, as ‘Francesco di Giorgio’.
William Randolph Hearst, New York; Hammer Galleries, New York, 1-3 May 1941, p. 19, illustrated.
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, inv. no. 41-9, 1941-1984, as ‘Francesco di Giorgio’, Property sold by Order of the University Trustees of the William Rockhill Nelson Trust, Kansas City; Christie's, New York, 3 June 1987, lot 82, as ‘Workshop of Francesco di Giorgio’.
Art Market, Florence, in 1998.
P. Schubring, Cassoni, Leipzig, 1923, supplement volume, p. 5, no. 936, pl. XVII, as ‘Francesco di Giorgio’.
A. McComb, ‘The Life and Works of Francesco di Giorgio’, Art Studies, Princeton, 1924, II, p. 20, pl. 19, as ‘Francesco di Giorgio’.
T. Borenius, ‘Italian Cassone Paintings’, Apollo, London, 1926, III, pp. 132-133, no. 15, as‘Francesco di Giorgio’.
A. Venturi, Studi dal Vero, Milan, 1929, pp. 87-88, fig. 52, as ‘Francesco di Giorgio’.
P. Misciatelli, ‘Cassoni Senesi’, La Diana, 1929, IV, p. 124, pl. 25, as ‘school of Francesco di Giorgio’.
S. Brinton, Francesco di Giorgio Martini of Siena, London, 1934, p. 33.
R. van Marle, The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting, The Hague, 1937, XVI, pp. 256-7, 286 and 292, fig. 138, as ‘Francesco di Giorgio’.
A.S. Weller, Francesco di Giorgio 1439-1501, Chicago, 1943, pp. 122-123, fig. 42.
F. Lugt, ‘Man and Angel’, Gazette des Beaux Arts, New York, 1944, XXV, p. 346, as ‘Francesco di Giorgio’.
Handbook of the Collections of the William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, Missouri, 1959, p. 262, as ‘Francesco di Giorgio’.
C. del Bravo, ‘Liberale da Verona’, Paragone, 1960, CXXIX, p. 32, as ‘Liberale da Verona’.
C. del Bravo, Liberale da Verona, Florence, 1967, pp. CXVIII-CXIX, as ‘Liberale da Verona’.
B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Central and North Italian Schools, London and New York, 1968, I, p. 140, as ‘Francesco di Giorgio’.
B.B. Fredericksen, The Cassone Paintings of Francesco di Giorgio, J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, 1969, IV, pp. 23-26, pl. 12-13, as
‘Francesco di Giorgio’.
B.B. Fredericksen and F. Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections, Massachusetts, 1972, pp. 74 and 589, as ‘Francesco di Giorgio’.
C.M. Kaufmann, Catalogue of Foreign Paintings Before 1800 in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1973, p. 114, as ‘Francesco di Giorgio’.
H.-J. Eberhardt, ‘Liberale da Verona’, Maestri della Pittura Veronese, Verona, 1974, p. 110.
R. Toledano, Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Milan, 1987, p. 153, no. A6, in ‘Appendice II: opere di erronea attribuzione’.
K. Christiansen, L.B. Kanter and C.B. Strehlke, Painting in Renaissance Siena 1420-1500, exhibition catalogue, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1988, p. 325.
E. Callman, Grove Dictionary of Art, under ‘Cassone’, VI, p. 4, pl. 5.
G. Hughes, Renaissance Cassoni, Michigan, 1997, pp. 181-2, illustrated.
L. Bellosi et. al., Francesco di Giorgio e il Rinascimento a Siena 1450-1500, exhibition catalogue, Milan, 1993, pp. 228, 234 and 242-3, under no. 39, fig. 1.

Lot Essay

As was customary, the narrative unfolds from the left: Tobit’s eye is blinded by the dung of a sparrow; Tobit with his son Tobias who is about to depart with the Archangel Raphael; Raphael instructs Tobias to catch a large fish in the Tigris; and Raphael arriving with Tobias at the gate of the city of Rages, home of Raquel and the latter’s future wife, Sara. As Weller and Fredericksen argued, a lost pendant cassone would have shown Tobias‘s return to cure his father and his subsequent wedding, the latter scene of course particularly appropriate for a marriage chest. The subjects of the flanking figures in relief represent Hercules and, very probably, Flora. The device on the escutcheon held by the latter was legible in 1928 as the head of a wild boar, which as Fredericksen notes was used in Siena by the Capacci family, while that held by Hercules was read in 1928 as an oak leaf, used by among other Sienese families, the Insegni, the Lucarini, the Minucci and the Marsile (Fredericksen, op. cit., 1969, p. 26). The subject of Tobias and the Angel, although popular with Florentine patrons, was relatively unusual in Siena.

The demand for cassoni in Siena in the 1470s and 1480s was evidently unprecedented, and several workshops must have specialised in supplying these. No signed or specifically documented example survives, and no panels survive that can be assigned to two of the painters who executed works of the kind in the 1470s, Francesco di Bartolomeo Alfei and Paolo d’ Andrea, who is known to have been an associate of the most versatile Sienese artist of the period, Francesco di Giorgio Martini. This panel was first associated with the substantial corpus of panels considered to be by Francesco di Giorgio by Schubring, the pioneer of cassoni studies, whose attribution was followed by scholars of the calibre of Venturi, van Marle, Weller and Berenson. More recently it, with other panels previously given to Francesco, has been attributed by Del Bravo to Francesco’s gifted contemporary, Liberale da Verona, who worked in Siena from 1466 for roughly a decade and, with his associate Girolamo da Cremona, supplied the celebrated series of illuminations for the choirbooks of the Duomo there; he dated this panel about 1470 and considered that it reflected the influence of the Sienese painter, Guidoccio Cozzarelli. Del Bravo’s attribution has been accepted by Eberhardt, Toledano, De Marchi, Callman and others. As Fredericksen notes, the ‘bushy’ hair in this panel is paralleled in the work of both Liberale and Girolamo: he notes that features like the rocks and hills are ‘very foreign to Francesco’, but was inclined ‘to look upon it as a work of Francesco’s in which he is trying hard to integrate details of Liberale’s manner with his own’ (op. cit., 1969). He associated it with a panel of the Story of Virginia (with Wildenstein, 1968) and tentatively proposed a date of 1467-9.

The sense of movement in this panel, and in others including the Loyd Triumph of Chastity (Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, on loan), is indeed paralleled in the miniatures of the choirbooks. A fine example of an illuminated manuscript by Liberale, in fact, will be offered in the sale of Valuable Books and Manuscripts, Christie’s, London, 12 July (see left). However, some scholars, including Luke Syson, do not consider any surviving cassone panels from Siena to be by Liberale. The very blond hair of both the Archangel Raphael and Tobias in this panel have an intriguing parallel in three sections of a cassone front divided between the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (figs. 1 and 2; inv. nos. 1986.147 and 43.98.8 respectively) and the Berenson collection at I Tatti (no. P40): that cassone is by the same hand as the Triumphal Procession: Aurelian and Zenobia. In the Northampton collection (see the exhibition catalogue, Renaissance Siena, Art for a City, London, National Gallery, 2007-8, no. 53), the painted section of which is flanked as in the panel under discussion by reliefs.

More from Old Masters Evening Sale

View All
View All