Madonna and Child with Two Donors

Object Details


Madonna and Child with Two Donors


Lorenzo Lotto (Italian (Venetian), about 1480 - 1556)




about 1525–1530


Oil on canvas

Object Number:



87.6 × 118.1 cm (34 1/2 × 46 1/2 in.)

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The Virgin Mary tenderly holds Christ on her lap, while the donors who commissioned this panel kneel below them, their eyes raised in reverence. The Christ child meets their gaze as he rewards their piety with a blessing. A fig branch is visible in the frame of the window in the background, a symbol of Christ's resurrection.

Lotto divides his composition in two, framing the Virgin and Christ child with swathes of drapery, while the space inhabited by the kneeling couple is distinctly delineated: they are positioned against a wall with a window which opens onto a view of a distant landscape. The appearance of the figures on either side of the composition is characteristically different. The Virgin’s brightly-colored robes contrast with the somber dress of the donors. Lotto has depicted mother and child in twisting, angular poses, with the Madonna balancing in contrapposto, while the kneeling couple are shown in profile, in rigid, upright positions. This division serves to emphasize the contrast between the earthly and the spiritual realms, but might also be explained by the fact that the figures of the Virgin and her son are thought to have been borrowed from a composition by another artist, perhaps someone in the circle of Raphael (1483 – 1520) or Giulio Romano (about 1499 – 1546). The differentiation between the two sets of figures has also led scholars to suggest that this painting demonstrates a transitional phase in Lotto’s work.

Donors were frequently portrayed in paintings that they commissioned from the Medieval period onwards. This specific kind of composition, in which kneeling donors are depicted in profile alongside the Virgin and Child was developed by a fellow Venetian artist, Giovanni Bellini (about 1435 – 1516), in the 1490s, and became increasingly popular in the early 1500s. While earlier donor portraits were typically altarpieces, by the fifteenth century such paintings were also commissioned to display in the home or for private chapels. These works served both as portraits of the individuals who funded them, and as testimony to their piety.


by 1660 -

Possibly Paolo del Sera (Florence, Italy), possibly to Giovanni Carlo de' Medici.

by 1663 -

Possibly Cardinal Giovanni Carlo de' Medici, 1611 - 1663 (Florence, Italy)

possibly by 1856 - still in 1882

Rospigliosi (Rome, Italy)

by 1905 - 1927

Robert Henry Benson, 1850 - 1929 (London, England; Buckhurst Park, Sussex, England)


and Evelyn Holford Benson, 1856 - 1943 (London, England; Buckhurst Park, Sussex, England), sold to Duveen Brothers, Inc., 1927.

1927 - 1929

Duveen Brothers, Inc. (London, England; New York, New York), sold to William Randolph Hearst, 1929.
Source: GRI, Duveen Brothers records, series II.I, box 465, folder 1.

1929 -

William Randolph Hearst, American, 1863 - 1951 (Los Angeles, California; New York, New York) [unsold, Hearst sale, Hammer Galleries, New York, May 1, 1941, lot 51-1.], transferred to the Hearst Foundation.

- 1944

Hearst Foundation, sold to Nicolas de Koenigsberg, 1944.
Source: GRI, Duveen Brothers records, series II.I, box 465, folder 5.

1944 -

Nicolas de Koenigsberg, born 1882 (New York, New York; Buenos Aires, Argentina), to his wife, Paula de Koenigsberg, by 1947.
Source: GRI, Duveen Brothers records, series II.A, box 261, folder 18; series II.I, box 465, folder 5.

by 1947 -

Paula de Koenigsberg (Buenos Aires, Argentina)


F. C. Stoop (Zürich, Switzerland)

- 1977

Private Collection [sold, Christie's, London, December 2, 1977, lot 55, to the J. Paul Getty Museum.]

Pictures, Drawings, Cloisonné Enamels, Decorative Furniture and Other Works of Art (1905)
  • Burlington Fine Arts Club (London), 1905
Pictures of the Venetian School, Including Works by Titian and His Contemporaries (1914)
  • Burlington Fine Arts Club (London), 1914
Loan Exhibition of the Benson Collection of Old Italian Masters (April 27 to July 30, 1927)
  • Manchester Art Gallery (Manchester), April 27 to July 30, 1927
Exposición de arte gótico: Colección Paula de Koenigsberg (1947)
  • Museo de Arte Hispano Americano Isaac Fernández Blanco (Buenos Aires), 1947
The Golden Century of Venetian Painting (October 30, 1979 to January 27, 1980)
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles), October 30, 1979 to January 27, 1980
The Age of Caravaggio / Caravaggio e il suo tempo (February 5 to June 30, 1985)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), February 5 to April 14, 1985
  • Museo e Gallerie Nazionali di Capodimonte (Naples), May 12 to June 30, 1985
Hearst, the Collector (November 9, 2008 to February 1, 2009)
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles), November 9, 2008 to February 1, 2009

Boschini, Marco. La carta del navegar pitoresco (Venice: Per li Baba, 1660), p. 365 (possibly Getty painting).

Catalogue of a Collection of Pictures, Drawings, Cloisonné Enamels, Decorative Furniture, and Other Works of Art, exh. cat. (London: Burlington Fine Arts Club, 1905), p. 11, no. 42.

Cook, Herbert. "L'esposizione del Burlington 'Fine Arts Club.'" L'arte 9 (1906), p. 144.

Cust, Lionel. "La Collection de M. R.-H. Benson." Les Arts, no. 70 (October 1907), p. 18.

Borenius, Tancred, ed. A History of Painting in North Italy. 3 vols. (London: John Murray, 1912), vol. 3, p. 430n5.

Graves, Algernon. A Century of Loan Exhibitions, 1813-1912. 5 vols. (London: Algernon Graves, 1913-15), vol. 2 (1913), p. 717.

Catalogue of Italian Pictures at 16, South Street, Park Lane, London, and Buckhurst in Sussex, Collected by Robert and Evelyn Benson (London: Chiswick Press, 1914), pp. 195-96, no. 96.

Fiocco, Giuseppe. "L'esposizione d'arte veneziana al Burlington Fine Arts Club di Londra." L'arte 17 (1914), p. 384.

Catalogue of a Collection of Pictures of the Venetian School, Including Works by Titian and His Contemporaries, exh. cat. (London: Burlington Fine Arts Club, 1914), p. 19, no. 16.

Holmes, Charles. "'Giorgione' Problems at Trafalgar Square-II." Burlington Magazine 42, no. 243 (May 1923), p. 237.

Loan Exhibition of the Benson Collection of Old Italian Masters, exh. cat. (Manchester: City of Manchester Art Gallery, 1927), p. 21, no. 51.

Baker, C. H. Collins. "Notes on Pictures at Drayton House." Burlington Magazine 52, no. 299 (February 1928), pp. 93, 94, 97, pl. 1.D.

Berenson, Bernard. I pittori italiani del Rinascimento. Emilio Cecchi, trans. (Milan: Ulrico Hoepli, 1936), pl. 38.

Marle, Raimond van. The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. 19 vols. (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1923-38), vol. 18 (1936), p. 389.

Berenson, Bernard. Pitture italiane del Rinascimento: Catalogo dei principali artisti e delle loro opere con un indice dei luoghi. Emilio Cecchi, trans. (Milan: Ulrico Hoepli, 1936), p. 266.

Art Objects & Furnishings from the William Randolph Hearst Collection (New York: Hammer Galleries, 1941), pp. 18, 281, no. 51-1.

Exposición de arte gótico: Colección Paula de Koenigsberg, exh. cat. (Buenos Aires: Museo Municipal de Arte Hispano Americano Isaac Fernández Blanco, 1947), p. 25, no. 18, ill.

Banti, Anna, and Antonio Boschetto. Lorenzo Lotto (Florence: Sansoni, 1953), p. 80, no. 74, fig. 143.

Coletti, Luigi. Lotto (Bergamo: Istituto italiano d'arti grafiche, 1953), p. 46.

Robertson, Giles. Vincenzo Catena (Edinburgh: University Press, 1954), p. 58, under no. 33.

Berenson, Bernard. Lotto. Luisa Vertova, trans. (Milan: Electa, 1955), p. 85, pl. 143.

Bianconi, Piero. Tutta la pittura di Lorenzo Lotto (Milan: Rizzoli, 1955), p. 56, pl. 113.

Berenson, Bernard. Lorenzo Lotto (London: Phaidon, 1956), p. 60, pl. 143.

Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: A List of the Principal Artists and Their Works with an Index of Places: Venetian School. 2 vols. (London: Phaidon Press, 1957), vol. 1, p. 104.

Bianconi, Piero. All the Paintings of Lorenzo Lotto. 2 vols. Paul Colacicchi, trans. (London: Oldbourne, 1963), vol. 2, p. 78, pl. 113.

Boschini, Marco. La carta del navegar pitoresco. Edizione critica con la "Breve instruzione" premessa alle "Ricche minere della pittura veneziana." Anna Pallucchini, ed. (Venice and Rome: Istituto per la collaborazione culturale, 1966), p. 398.

Pallucchini, Rodolfo, and Giordana Mariani Canova. L'opera completa del Lotto (Milan: Rizzoli, 1975), pp. 108-9, no. 174, ill.

Christie, Manson & Woods, London. Important Old Master Pictures. December 2, 1977, p. 57, lot 55, ill.

Fredericksen, Burton B., Jiří Frel, and Gillian Wilson. Guidebook: The J. Paul Getty Museum. 4th ed. Sandra Morgan, ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1978), p. 80.

Pignatti, Terisio, and Kenneth Donahue. The Golden Century of Venetian Painting, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1979), pp. 66-67, 160-61, no. 17, ill.

Caroli, Flavio. Lorenzo Lotto e la nascita della psicologia moderna (Milan: Fabbri, 1980), pp. 266-67, ill.

Fredericksen, Burton B. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1980), unpaginated, no. 14, ill.

Fredericksen, Burton B., Jiří Frel, and Gillian Wilson. The J. Paul Getty Museum Guidebook. 5th ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1980), p. 69, ill.

Thoresby, Christina Sinclair. "Return to the Capital and the Great Venetian Period." In Lorenzo Lotto: atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi per il V Centenario della Nascita, Asolo 18-21 settembre 1980. Pietro Zampietti and Vittorio Sgarbi, eds. (Treviso: Comitato per le celebrazioni lottesche, 1980), p. 220, fig. 6.

Steinberg, Leo. The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion (New York: Pantheon Books, 1983), pp. 72-73, fig. 76.

Mascalchi, Silvia. "La collezioni di Giovan Carlo de' Medici: una vicenda del Seicento fiorentino riconsiderata alla luce dei documenti." Ph.D. diss. (Università degli studi di Firenze, 1984), pp. 229, 427, 663.

Christiansen, Keith, et al., eds. The Age of Caravaggio, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with Electa, 1985), pp. 63-65, no. 6, ill., entry by Keith Christiansen.

Bellini, Amedeo, et al. Lorenzo Lotto: catalogo generale (Milan: Politecnico di Milano, Facoltà di architettura, 1990), pp. 98-99, no. 70, ill.

Christie's, London. Old Master Pictures from Collections of the Cholmondeley Family and the Late Sir Philip Sassoon, Bt., from Houghton. December 8, 1994, p. 276, under lot 342.

Humfrey, Peter. Lorenzo Lotto (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1997), pp. 131, 132, fig. 133.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 76, ill.

Lucco, Mauro. "The Figurative Sources." In Lorenzo Lotto: Rediscovered Master of the Renaissance, exh. cat. David Alan Brown, Peter Humfrey, and Mauro Lucco, eds. (Washington, D. C.: National Gallery of Art, with Yale University Press, 1997), p. 17, fig. 1.

Oberhuber, Konrad, and Achim Gnann. Roma e lo stile classico di Raffaello: 1515-1527, exh. cat. (Mantua: Palazzo Te, with Electa, 1999), p. 254, under no. 179.

Goffen, Rona. "Lotto's Lucretia." Renaissance Quarterly 52, no. 3 (Autumn 1999), pp. 752-53, fig. 8.

Di Castro, Daniela. "L'arredo del Palazzo Pallavicini Rospigliosi." In Il Palazzo Pallavicini Rospigliosi e la galleria Pallavicini (Turin: Umberto Allemandi, 1999), p. 292, fig. 20 (1882 painting by K. Werner depicting the Lotto in the Palazzo Rospigliosi).

Negro, Angela. La collezione Rospigliosi: la quadreria e la committenza artistica di una famiglia patrizia a Roma nel Sei e Settecento (Rome: Àrgos, 1999), p. 351, app. (inventario Minardi 1856), no. 174 (possibly Getty painting).

Pirovano, Carlo. Lotto (Milan: Electa, 2002), pp. 144, 185, no. 124, ill.

Clifton, James. "Mother Angela Envisions." In Old Masters in Context: Romanino's 'Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine.' Arnold Victor Coonin, ed. (Memphis: Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, 2003), p. 30, fig. 3.

Levkoff, Mary L. Hearst, the Collector, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with Abrams, 2008), pp. 13, 15, 239, no. 129, ill., entry by Jon L. Seydl.

Merle du Bourg, Alexis. "Les Oeuvres de Dévotion: Une Ferveur Singuliére." Dossier de l'Art no. 264 (November 2018), pp. 40, 43, 46, ill.