Madonna and Child with Two Donors

Object Details

Title:

Madonna and Child with Two Donors

Artist/Maker:

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

Culture:

Italian

Date:

about 1525–1530

Medium:

Oil on canvas

Object Number:

77.PA.110

Dimensions:

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.

 

Provenance
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.]

Exhibitions
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
Bibliography

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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.

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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.

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

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

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