Bachiacca was a friend and associate of Andrea del Sarto, and collaborated with him and Francesco Granacci on a memorable series of paintings for a bedroom in Florence. This devotional painting shows the Madonna and Child amidst a selection of carefully depicted flowers—jasmine, cornflower, rose, and sweetbriar—all of which were symbols of the Virgin or Christ in the Renaissance. The composition, also the basis for paintings by Granacci, one of which is exhibited in this gallery, was inspired either by a relief sculpture by Donatello or, more likely, a drawing by Michelangelo, with whom both painters were acquainted.
Inscription: Inscribed (on Madonna's collar): AVE MARIA
?Sir H. Michelis; ?vicomtesse H. de Kernavanois; Monsieur de Lamine, Paris (until 1955; sale, Lempertz, Cologne, November 23, 1955, no. 1, to Linsky); Mr. and Mrs. Jack Linsky, New York (1955–his d. 1980); Mrs. Jack Linsky, New York (1980–82)
Baltimore Museum of Art. "Bacchiacca and His Friends," January 10–February 19, 1961, no. 13 (lent by Mr. Jack Linsky).
Lada Nikolenko. Francesco Ubertini called "Il Bacchiacca". Locust Valley, N.Y., 1966, pp. 26, 45, 57–58, fig. 67, notes the Leonardesque feeling of the precisely painted flowers in the background, arguing for a date of about 1533 to 1540.
Christian von Holst. Francesco Granacci. Munich, 1974, pp. 27, 141–42 n. 3.
Paintings by Old Masters. Exh. cat., Colnaghi. London, 1978, p. 13, under no. 11, relates our painting to the more complicated version exhibited at Colnaghi's.
J. Russell Sale inItalian Paintings: XIV–XVIIIth Centuries from the Collection of The Baltimore Museum of Art. Ed. Gertrude Rosenthal. Baltimore, 1981, pp. 94–95, 98 nn. 29, 30, fig. 5, discusses our painting in relation to the version in the Baltimore Museum of Art, suggesting that our painting was the earlier of the two; proposes a date in the 1520s and notes the use of a Dürer engraving for the background.
Keith Christiansen inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1983–1984. New York, 1984, pp. 48–49, ill.
Keith Christiansen inThe Jack and Belle Linsky Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, pp. 40–42, no. 10, ill. (color), accepts Sale's [see Ref. 1981] dating of the picture to the early 1520s, and calls it probably the earliest of the four versions; states that Bacchiacca's and Granacci's pictures of the subject probably derive from the same lost prototype, the identity of which cannot be determined based on the information available thus far.
Philippe Costamagna inL'officina della maniera: Varietà e fierezza nell'arte fiorentina del Cinquecento fra le due repubbliche 1494–1530. Ed. Alessandro Cecchi and Antonio Natali. Exh. cat., Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. Venice, 1996, p. 294, says that the composition derives from a painting of the same subject by Pontormo (Hester Diamond, New York).
Christopher Fulton. "Present at the Inception: Donatello and the Origins of Sixteenth-Century Mannerism." Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 60, no. 2 (1997), pp. 192–94, fig. 27, believes that even if there is not a specific work by Donatello from which this painting derives, the "relief-like presentation and the intimate relationship between Mary and the Christ child are very probably inspired by Donatello's compositional principles"; is unpersuaded by arguments for a Michelangelesque model.
Carmen C. Bambach. Drawing and Painting in the Italian Renaissance Workshop: Theory and Practice, 1300–1600. Cambridge, 1999, p. 410 n. 127, includes Bacchiacca among a list of artists who did not use "spolvero" cartoons to produce series of Madonna pictures.
Robert G. La France. "Francesco d'Ubertino Verdi, il Bachiacca (1494–1557): 'diligente dipintore'." PhD diss., Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, 2002, pp. 397–99, no. 41, discusses our painting in relation to the other versions (ex-Salamon and Baltimore Museum of Art), all of which he says derive from Donatello's Dudley Madonna (Victoria and Albert Museum, London); dates our work to the late 1520s.
Robert G. La France. "Bachiacca's Formula for Success." The Art Market in Italy: 15th–17th Centuries. Ed. Marcello Fantoni et al. Modena, 2003, pp. 242, 250 nn. 57, 58, p. 461, fig. XVIII-9, cites it as an example of Bacchiacca's "ability to alter his style to satisfy his customers' tastes"; states that the manner of painting in this work was meant to mimic Netherlandish paintings.
Robert G. La France. Bachiacca: Artist of the Medici Court. Florence, 2008, pp. 69, 106–7, 196–99, 202, 217, 228, 245, no. 47, colorpl. XXXIV, dates it about 1530; reiterates his argument [see Ref. 2002] that Bacchiacca based this work and the ex-Salamon and Baltimore versions of the composition on Donatello's Dudley Madonna (Victoria and Albert Museum, London).
The panel support has been thinned and cradled. It has possibly been slightly cropped along the vertical edges but not, apparently, at the top or bottom. On the whole the condition is excellent; there is, however, a loss on the Virgin's breast. The picture was cleaned in 1983.
Bachiacca painted three other versions of this composition: one on a smaller scale in "The Vision of Saint Bernard" (Palazzo Venezia, Rome), one of the same dimensions (Baltimore Museum of Art), and a considerably larger picture (formerly Colnaghi; later Galleria Salamon, Milan). Two paintings by Francesco Granacci (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and MMA 2000.420) employ the same composition, and there can be no doubt that Bachiacca's and Granacci's paintings share a common source, now lost. S. J. Freedberg ("Paintings of the High Renaissance in Rome and Florence," 1961, vol. 1, p. 491) suggests Donatello as the source, von Holst (1974) suggests Michelangelo, and Sale (1981) proposes Raphael or Leonardo.