Madonna and Child with Musical Angels

Object Details


Madonna and Child with Musical Angels


Gherardo Starnina (Master of the Bambino Vispo) (Italian (Florentine), active 1378 - about 1413)




about 1410


Tempera and gold leaf on panel


87.6 x 50.2 cm (34 1/2 x 19 3/4 in.)

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These elegant figures dressed in colorful robes, some flecked with gold, are characteristic of the International Gothic style of the early 1400s. Gherardo Starnina, formerly known as the "Master of the Bambino Vispo"(Master of the Lively Child), painted this panel in Florence, where he settled after a sojourn in Spain. His nickname refers to his penchant for painting Madonnas with a squirming or lively Christ Child, as in this painting.

The Madonna sits on an ornate throne surrounded by angels, some in attitudes of worship, others playing musical instruments and singing. Christ sits on her lap, twisting his body in order to touch the lilies, a symbol of purity offered by an angel. In his left hand he holds a goldfinch, alluding to his Crucifixion.

Starnina's scene is rich in detail, color, and materials. Gold leaf is used for the haloes, the trim of clothing and furniture, and the background. The gold of the Virgin's crown and the angel's garments and haloes are punchmarked to create lavish designs. Starnina delighted in portraying sumptuous effects, seen in the brocade covering the chair and Mary's gown, the simulated marble footstool, and the decoratively patterned floor.

by 1927 - 1928

Marczell de Nemes von Janoshaza, 1866 - 1930 (Budapest, Hungary; Munich, Germany) [sold, Nemes sale, Frederik Muller & Cie., Amsterdam, November 13, 1928, lot 10, to Harold Sidney Harmsworth.]

1928 - 1940

Harold Sidney Harmsworth, first viscount Rothermere, 1868 - 1940 (Stody Lodge, Norfolk, England), by inheritance to Esmond Cecil Harmsworth Rothermere, 1940.

1940 - 1946

Esmond Cecil Harmsworth, second viscount Rothermere, 1898 - 1978 (Daylesford, Gloucestershire, England) [sold, Rothermere sale, Christie's, London, August 2, 1946, lot 22, to Alfred Scharf.]

1946 -

Alfred Scharf (London, England)

- 1977

Baron Paul Hatvany, 1899 - 1977 (London, England), upon his death, held in trust by the estate.

1977 - 1980

Estate of Baron Paul Hatvany, 1899 - 1977 [sold, Hatvany sale, Christie's, London, July 11, 1980, lot 18, to Norman Leitman.]

1980 - 1982

Norman Leitman (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1982.

Exhibition of Italian Art 1200 - 1900 (1930) (Cat. 72)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), 1930

Marle, Raimond van. The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. 19 vols. (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1923-38), vol. 9 (1927) p. 196.

"Zur Auktion Nemes." Pantheon 2 (September1928) p. 450, ill.

Frederik Muller & Cie., Amsterdam. Collection Marczell de Nemes: Tableaux, tapisseries, emaux de Limoges, miniatures sur velin, bronzes, orfevrerie. November 13-14, 1928 p. 4, lot 10, fig. 10.

North, S. Kennedy. "Scientific Restoration of Old Masters-Part II." International Studio 92 (October 1930) pp. 44-45, ill.

Exhibition of Italian Art 1200-1900, exh. cat. (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1930) pp. 65-66, no. 72.

A Commemorative Catalogue of the Exhibition of Italian Art Held in the Galleries of the Royal Academy, Burlington House. 2 vols. Lord Balniel and Kenneth Clark, eds. (London: Royal Academy, Burlington House, with Oxford University Press, 1931) vol. 1, p. 19, no. 51.

Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: A List of the Principal Artists and Their Works with an Index of Places (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1932) p. 340.

Konody, Paul George. Works of Art in the Collection of Viscount Rothermere (London: Privately printed for Viscount Rothermere, 1932) unpaginated, no. 8, ill.

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Berenson, Bernard. Pitture italiane del Rinascimento. Emilio Cecchi, trans. (Milan: Ulrico Hoepli, 1936) p. 277.

Pudelko, Georg. "The Maestro del Bambino Vispo." Art in America 26, no. 2 (April 1938) p. 53.

Longhi, Roberto. "Fatti di Masolino e di Masaccio." Critica d'Arte 5, no. 34, pt. 2 (1940) p. 184.

Friedmann, Herbert. The Symbolic Goldfinch: Its History and Significance in European Devotional Art (Washington D.C., Pantheon Books, 1946) p. 147.

Christie, Manson & Woods, London. Catalogue of Ancient and Modern Pictures. August 2, 1946 p. 5, lot 22.

Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: A List of the Principal Artists and Their Works: Florentine School. 2 vols. (New York: Phaidon Press, 1963) vol. 1, pp. 140, fig. 473.

Longhi, Roberto. "Un 'aggiunta al 'Maestro del Bambino Vispo' (Miguel Alcañiz?)." Paragone, n.s. 16, no. 185 (July 1965) p. 39.

Berenson, Bernard. Homeless Paintings of the Renaissance. Hanna Kiel, ed. (London: Thames & Hudson,1969) p. 147, fig. 256.

Waadenoijen, Jeanne van. "A Proposal for Starnina: Exit the Maestro del Bambino Vispo?" The Burlington Magazine 116, no. 851 (February 1974) p. 90.

Syre, Cornelia. Studien zum 'Maestro del Bambino vispo' und Starnina (Bonn: Rudolf Habelt, 1979) pp. 101-04, 166, 200, fig. 113.

Christie, Manson & Woods, London. Important Old Master Pictures. July 11, 1980 pp. 38-39, lot 18, ill.

Waadenoijen, Jeanne van. Starnina e il gotico internazionale a Firenze (Florence: Instituto universitario orlandese de storia dell'arte, 1983) pp. 45, 52, 54, 60, 69, 82, fig. 24.

Fredericksen, Burton B. "Recent Acquisitions of Paintings: The J. Paul Getty Museum." The Burlington Magazine 127, no. 985 (April 1985) p. 261.

Eisenberg, Marvin. Lorenzo Monaco (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989) p. 58n60.

De Marchi, Andrea. Da Biduino ad Algardi pittura e scultura a confronto, exh. cat. (Turin: Antichi maestri pittori, 1990) pp. 21, 23, ill.

Rowlands, Eliot W. The Collections of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: Italian Paintings 1300-1800 (Kansas City: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 1996) p. 83.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997) p. 121, ill.

Rothe, Andrea, and Giovanni Marussich. "Florentine Structural Stabilization Techniques." In The Structural Conservation of Panel Paintings. Symposium [...] April 1995. Kathleen Dardes and A. Rothe, eds. (Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute, 1998) pp. 312-14, figs. 10-12.

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Vries, Anneke de. "Schilderkunst in Florence tussen 1400 en 1430: een onderzoek naar stijl en stilistische vernieuwing." Ph.D. diss. (Universiteit Leiden, 2004) pp. 45, 92, 259, 307, fig. 45.

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