Francesco Pesellino - Virgin and Child, about 1453 - 1457

Francesco Pesellino (Florence, about 1422 - 1457, Florence)

Virgin and Child with a Swallow, about 1453 - 1457

Tempera on panel , 59.7 x 39.5 cm (23 1/2 x 15 9/16 in.)

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(Florence, about 1422 - 1457, Florence)

Object details

Accession number

P16w11

Primary Creator

Francesco Pesellino (Florence, about 1422 - 1457, Florence)

Full title

Virgin and Child with a Swallow

Creation Date

about 1453 - 1457

Provenance



Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner from the sale of the Frederick R. Leyland collection at Christie, Manson & Woods, London on 28 May 1892 for £315 through Benjamin Franklin Stevens (1833–1902), bibliographer, bookseller and library agent. (as Filippo Lippi)

Marks

Label inscribed and printed in ink (adherred to the back of the frame): Royal Academy Exhibition of the Works of the Old Masters, 1876 / Name of Artist: Filippo Lippi / Title of Work: Madonna & Child / Name and Address of Proprietor: Fredrick R. Leyland W. / 49 Princes Gate S.W.

Dimensions

59.7 x 39.5 cm (23 1/2 x 15 9/16 in.)

Display Media

Tempera on panel

Web Commentary


The most innovative painter in mid fifteenth-century Florence, Pesellino worked for Cosimo de’ Medici and Pope Nicholas V. This painting of the Virgin and Child with a swallow was one of the most reproduced paintings in fifteenth century Florence. Positioned in an architectural niche, the Virgin tenderly supports her child and bows her head, while the Christ Child meets the eye of the viewer and holds a swallow--a symbol of the resurrection.



Isabella was a pioneer in collecting Renaissance paintings, and this panel was the first work by Pesellino in an American collection.

Permanent Gallery Location

Raphael Room

Bibliography

Exhibition of Works by the Old Masters,... Winter Exhibition, Seventh Year. Exh cat. (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1876), p. 24, no. 196. (as Fra Filippo Lippi)
Christie, Manson and Woods. Catalogue of the very valuable collection of Ancient and Modern Pictures of Frederick Richards Leyland, Esq,... (London, 28 May 1892), p. 23, lot 105. (as Filippo Lippi)
William Roberts. Memorials of Christie's: A Record of Art Sales from 1766 to 1896, vol. 2 (London, 1897), p. 190. (as Filippo Lippi)
Art Exhibition: Mrs. John L. Gardner, 152 Beacon St., Boston. Exh. cat. (Boston, 1899), p. 7, no. 11. (as Filippo Lippi)
Catalogue. Fenway Court. (Boston, 1903), p. 8. (as Filippo Lippi)
Philip Hendy. "Pesellino." Burlington Magazine 53, no. 305 (Aug., 1928), pp. 66-69, 72-74, pl. 2B. (as Pesellino)
Magda Oberschall. "Un Élève Inconnu de Fra Filippo Lippi." Gazette des Beaux-Arts (July 1930), pp. 216-22. (as a student of Filippo Lippi)
Hans MacKowsky. "Pesellino Trinity." Burlington Magazine 57, no 332 (Nov., 1930), pp. 212, 216-19, 222-23, pl. 2B. (as Piero di Lorenzo)
Philip Hendy. Catalogue of Exhibited Paintings and Drawings (Boston, 1931), pp. 257-259. (as Pesellino)
Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), p. 120.
"Pesellino's Masterpiece." The Toledo Museum of Art News, no. 110 (Dec., 1945), pp. 1-23, ill.
Morris Carter. "Mrs. Gardner & The Treasures of Fenway Court" in Alfred M. Frankfurter (ed.). The Gardner Collection (New York, 1946), pp. 55-56.
Philip Hendy. European and American Paintings in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1974), pp. 178-80. (as Pesellino)
Gabrielle Kopelman. "Second Thoughts." Fenway Court (1979), pp. 54-58, nos. 1-3.
Rollin van N. Hadley. Museums Discovered: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1981), pp. 28-29. (as dated about 1440-1450)
Laurence Kanter in Hilliard Goldfarb et al. Italian Paintings and Drawings Before 1800 in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Unpublished manuscript. (Boston, 1996-2000). (as Pesellino)
Alan Chong et al. (eds.) Eye of the Beholder: Masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 2003), pp. 48-49. (as Pesellino)
John Marciari. "Virgin and Child before a Rose Hedge." Italian, Spanish and French Paintings Before 1850 in the San Diego Museum of Art (San Diego, 2015), p. 68 (as Pesellino)
Paul Tucker. A Connoisseur and his Clients: The Correspondence of Charles Fairfax Murray with Frederic Burton, Wilhelm Bode and Julius Meyer (1867-1914) in The Seventy-Ninth Volume of the Walpole Society (London: The Walpole Society, 2017), p. 160, no. 259 (as Pesellino).

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Commentary


The most innovative painter in mid fifteenth-century Florence, Pesellino worked for Cosimo de’ Medici and Pope Nicholas V. This painting of the Virgin and Child with a swallow was one of the most reproduced paintings in fifteenth century Florence. Positioned in an architectural niche, the Virgin tenderly supports her child and bows her head, while the Christ Child meets the eye of the viewer and holds a swallow--a symbol of the resurrection.



Isabella was a pioneer in collecting Renaissance paintings, and this panel was the first work by Pesellino in an American collection.