Andrea del Sarto

The Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist

Oil on panel, 87.5 x 68.6 cm

Painted in Florence c. 1513

19th century label on reverse reads ‘3054 # 6-27-95’

Private Collection, Nantucket;
Sale: Christie’s New York: Friday, Jauary 31, 1997, Lot 141;
Private Collection, London
European Private Collection
Exhibition: Old Masters in a Modern Light Whitfield Fine Art, 2009
Palazzo Corsini: Biennale Internazionale De”’ Antiquariato Di Firenze, 2011

Sidney J. Freedberg, Andrea Del Sarto, Cambridge 1963, no. 46, p.93 (as a lost composition);
John Shearman, Andrea Del Sarto, Oxford 1965, no. 24, p.210 (as the missing original for no. 24)
John Shearman, Letter, 29/11/2000 (as “authentic Andrea about 1513, of a very interesting and important design).

This famous lost masterpiece has only recently come to light. The painting has been the subject of a careful conservation at Mazzochini Studios throughout 2008. It was discovered that the background had, in the eighteenth or early nineteenth century, been entirely overpainted, in order to make the design correspond more closely with the Leonardo-esque sfumato that was favoured at the time. Now the figures stand out more against the lively brushwork, in characteristic green and grey, and the original shadow of the figures with its vigourous shading, that is also present in the Madonna of the H arpies, has also been revealed. The colours of the figures have also found their original clarity and depth, the red lacquer of the Madonna’s sleeve being revealed as the same tonality of the red of the dress. Painted around 1513 it is one of the most exciting rediscoveries in Andrea Del Sarto’s oeuvre. It is one of the primary High Renaissance examples of a tradition of images of the Holy family in Florentine painting, which is a characteristic feature throughout the Cinquecento from Raphael to Pontormo and Bronzino. The important composition shows Del Sarto developing the emotional excitement and direct appeal of his work, as he entered his most accomplished stage of his career. Professor John Shearman notes the influence the composition had on Pontormo amongst others, and that its importance has been overlooked in studies of the period. The attribution was confirmed by the late Professor Shearman [written communication 29 November 2000]