Bernardino da Genoa (Italian, Genoese, active in 1515)
Oil on wood
29 3/8 x 22 5/8 in. (74.6 x 57.5 cm)
Gift of George Blumenthal, 1941
Not on view
Although the picture is signed and dated, the identity of the artist is not known. In the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries a number of Lombard artists moved to Genoa. One such artist was Bernardino Fasola, and it is possible that he is the author of this picture. The audaciously foreshortened figure of the Christ Child recalls the work of the Milanese Bramantino. The goldfinch is a common symbol of Christ's Passion.
Inscription: Signed and dated (on goldfinch's scroll): BERNAR / DINVS / IANVE / 1515.
William Graham, London (by 1882–d. 1885; inv., 1882, no. 369, as by Lanini; his estate sale, Christie's, London, April 8, 1886, no. 235, as by B. Lanini, for 50 gns. to Agnew); [Agnew, London, from 1886]; William Graham's daughter, Lady Horner (Frances Jane Graham), Mells Park, Frome, Somerset (until 1919; on loan to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, 1917–19; sale, Christie's, London, July 11, 1919, no. 9, as by Bernardino Lanini, for £682.10 to Sulley); [Sulley & Co., London, from 1919]; George Blumenthal, New York (by 1926–41; cat., vol. 1, 1926, pl. XXXIX, as by Bernardino Zaganelli)
Catalogue of Pictures, Ancient and Modern, 35 Grosvenor Place. 1882, no. 369 [see letter of October 13, 1982 in archive file], as by Lanini.
Stella Rubinstein-Bloch. Catalogue of the Collection of George and Florence Blumenthal. Vol. 1, Paintings—Early Schools. Paris, 1926, unpaginated, pl. XXXIX, as attributed to Bernardino Zaganelli.
Herbert Friedmann. The Symbolic Goldfinch: Its History and Significance in European Devotional Art. Washington, 1946, pp. 119, 163, pl. 132 (detail), attributes it to Bernardino Zaganelli.
Federico Zeri. Letter. October 13, 1949, rejects the attribution to Zaganelli, noting the influence of Andrea and Antonio Solario.
Federico Zeri. Letter to Elizabeth Gardner. October 2, 1955, suggests that the signature might read "Bernardinus Ianuensis", or Bernardino of Genoa, and identifies the artist with Bernardino Fasolo.
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 27, 342, 608.
Alvar González-Palacios. "Avvio allo studio del mobile italiano." Storia dell'arte italiana. Vol. 11, pt. 3, v. 4, Turin, 1982, p. 619, fig. 593, notes the similarity in composition to an intarsia panel in the choir of the cathedral of Savona, commissioned by Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere in 1500 and made by Anselmo Fornari and Elia Rocchi; calls the author of our painting Bernardino Ianuensis.
Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, North Italian School. New York, 1986, pp. 4–5, pl. 55, reject earlier attributions to Bernardino Lanino and Bernardino Zaganelli; associate it stylistically with the work of Lorenzo Fasolo and suggest that it may be an early work by his son Bernardino (1489–1526/27), adding that too little is known about him to be certain and that he usually signed his name "de Papia" ("of Pavia").
Mauro Natale inI piazza da Lodi: Una tradizione di pittori nel Cinquecento. Ed. Gianni Carlo Sciolla. Exh. cat., Museo Civico et al., Lodi. Milan, 1989, pp. 107, 111 n. 61, ill. p. 108, compares it with the early work of Martino Piazza (born ca. 1475–80, died ca. 1530).
Oliver Garnett. "The Letters and Collection of William Graham—Pre-Raphaelite Patron and Pre-Raphael Collector." Walpole Society 62 (2000), p. 307, no. d32, fig. 160, states that Agnew bought it at the 1886 Graham sale for 50 guineas, listing 3875 as the number in Agnew's stock book.
The panel has been thinned and cradled. The state of the picture is good, though the thinly painted areas have suffered and the green cloth beneath the Christ Child is largely gone. The present mottled appearance is due to uneven cleaning and abrasion. Although several vertical cracks run through the Virgin's head the paint losses are minimal. There is a pentimento in the face of the angel at the left (from Zeri and Gardner 1986).