Pellegrino di Mariano Rossini (active 1449–1492)
Pellegrino di Mariano Rossini (active 1449–1492)
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Pellegrino di Mariano Rossini (active 1449–1492)

The Story of Mars and Venus: a cassone panel

Pellegrino di Mariano Rossini (active 1449–1492)
The Story of Mars and Venus: a cassone panel
tempera and gold on panel
17 5/8 x 56 5/8 in. (44.8 x 144.9 cm.)
D’Intra collection, Paris.
with Alberto G. D’Atri, Paris.
Anonymous sale [Private collection, London]: Sotheby’s, 8 March 1944, lot 82, as ‘School of Ambrogio Lorenzetti’, sold for £210 to the following,
From the Collection of the Late Baron Paul Hatvany, Cadogan Place, London; (†) Christie’s, 11 July 1980, lot 25, as ‘Sienese School, c. 1420’.
Professor W.M. Ballantyne, by whom sold at the Fine Art Society, A Barrister’s collection, 5-21 March 2014, no. 44, as ‘Sienese School, first half of the fifteenth century’.
P. Schubring, ‘Aphrodites und Ares Liebe: ein sieneser Cassone Bild aus dem 14. Jahrhundert’, Pantheon, 1932, X, pp. 298-300, illustrated.
C. Brandi, Giovanni di Paolo, Florence, 1947, p. 105, note 10.
F. Zeri, Italian Paintings in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, 1976, I, p. 124, under no. 81.

Lot Essay

This panel, which reflects the artist’s study of Sienese painting from the generation of Ambrogio Lorenzetti and in its treatment of landscape implies a close familiarity with the work of Pellegrino’s mentor, Giovanni di Paolo, was convincingly attributed by Brandi, doyen of Sienese specialists of his time, to Pellegrino di Mariano in 1947. His view was endorsed by Zeri, who correctly linked the panel with others at Cologne (with which Brandi has associated it) and in the Seminario Arcivescovale at Siena, as well as three compartments with the Story of Esther (with Bottenwieser, Berlin, 1928). The other panels are all of biblical subjects, and this cassone is of particular interest as a Sienese picture of a secular subject of its period, before or soon after 1450.

On the left a man in pink with orange leggings looks into a bedroom in which the protagonists lie embracing: in the wider central section the same man dances under the sun and is then seen again, with two others and a net. On the right Mars and Venus are seen trapped by the net on their bed, the curtains of which have been drawn aside, while the man and two others look on.

The landscape, with its pale level fields, cultivated in strips, from which white hillocks rise, one with a fortified town on its flank, was clearly inspired by that to the east of Siena itself.

Baron Paul Hatvany, who belonged to a distinguished Hungarian Jewish family with an interest in the arts, settled in London and laid the foundations of his remarkable collection of old master drawings and pictures at sales in the war years. He owned two notable quattrocento devotional pictures, by Starnina and Fra Filippo Lippi respectively. After his death works by Francesco di Giorgio, Bellini and Rubens passed to British institutions while the bulk of the collection was sold at Christie’s.

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