In a privately printed article based on a lecture given to the National Institute of Rennaissance Studies at the Castello Sforzesco, Milan, on 16 May 1942, Roberto Longhi outlined details of Braccesco's life and put forward arguments and documents to restore to this artist works which had been ascribed to others, including an Annunciation in the Musée du Louvre, Paris (Longhi, op. cit., 1995).
Born in Lombardy, Carlo Braccesco was influenced by the works of Ambrogio Bergognone (1453-1523) and Vincenzo Foppa (1427/30-1516), and like them, he continued to pursue artistic concerns rooted in the Lombardian tradition of naturalistic observation, even after his move to Liguria. Carlo Giuseppe Ratti (1737-95), revising the texts of the 17th-century chronicler, Raffaele Soprani (1612-72), records Braccesco as 'Carlo del Mantegna, also Lombard, a painter widely esteemed as one who had been a disciple of Andrea Mantegna...' (Soprani-Ratti, Vite dei pittori ecc. genovesi, 1768, I, 370). Contemporary documentation also attests to the importance and number of his commissions. In 1481 he undertook the painting of a Saint George on Horseback for the exterior of the Customs House, Genoa, a work which he signed 'Carolus de Mediolano'. He also executed four stained glass windows and frescoes for the Chapel of Saint Sebastian in the Cathedral in Genoa (see Notizie dei professori del disegno in Liguria, 1870-80, II, pp. 119-57, 372ff, 373; III, pp. 33 and 456 - where he is recorded as Carlo da Milano).
The present work can be securely given to Braccesco and dated, along with two other panels recording episodes from the life of Saint Andrew, to circa 1480-90. These works were once thought by Bernard Berenson to be by Giovanni Martino Spanzotti (1450/6-c.1523), but have been convincingly shown by Federico Zeri to form part of a dismembered triptych whose central panel (E.K. Waterhouse first proposed) was Saint Andrew flanked by two Angels (private collection, London). Saint Peter and Saint Paul were to the left and right (location unknown, both formerly in a private collection, Lucca); (Zeri, op. cit., 1955). The present work - which Longhi and all subsequent writers erroneously recorded as coming from the Kress collection - and two others - formed the predella to this Saint Andrew triptych. Zeri believed that the Denver panel (thought by Longhi to represent Saint Andrew transforming the seven Devils of Nicea into Dogs) would have been the left panel of the predella; The Miracle performed at the Tomb of Saint Andrew (now in the Musée de Cluny, Paris), the central panel, placed beneath the figure of Saint Andrew; and The Crucifixion of Saint Andrew (in the Galleria Franchetti, Ca d'Oro, Venice) the right panel. Longhi thought that this last scene would have been in the center because of its slightly increased width (Longhi, op. cit., 1942, pp. 182-3, note 27), but as the present panel appears to have been reduced in size, their dimensions may once have been identical. Zeri (op. cit.) also records that there were four small Doctors of the Church which would have been part of the frame or have been included in the base of the triptych.
We are grateful to Mr. Everett Fahy for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.