A sculptor as well as a painter, Neroccio de' Landi was one of the most accomplished artists of late-fifteenth-century Siena. His work centered on devotional images of the Madonna and Child; this one dates about 1490. The format—with two accompanying saints set behind the Virgin—was conventional in Siena, but Neroccio's lyrical, relief-like treatment of the figures and his emphasis on surface refinement are peculiar to him.
The frame is not original to the picture but was designed by the great architectural engineer-sculptor-painter Francesco di Giorgio, with whom Neroccio shared a workshop between 1468 and 1475.
Georg (II), Herzog von Saxe-Meiningen, Meiningen, Thuringia (by 1897–d. 1914); Bernhard (III), Herzog von Saxe-Meiningen, Meiningen (1914–d. 1928); Georg, Prinz von Saxe-Meiningen, Heldbourg, Thuringia (1928–29; sold to Douglas); [R. Langton Douglas, Dublin or London, 1929; sold to Duveen]; [Duveen, London and New York, 1929–36; sold to Kress]; Samuel H. Kress, New York (1936–39); National Gallery of Art, Washington (1939–60); Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York (1960–61)
Bernhard Berenson. The Central Italian Painters of the Renaissance. reprinted 1903. New York, 1897, p. 156, as in Meiningen; attributes it to Neroccio and calls it "Holy Family".
G[eorg]. Voss. Bau- und Kunst-Denkmäler Thüringens. Vol. 34, Herzogthum Sachsen-Meiningen. Jena, Germany, 1909, p. 168, ill. following p. 168.
Paul Schubring inAllgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 22, Leipzig, 1928, p. 295.
Lionello Venturi. Italian Paintings in America. Vol. 2, Fifteenth Century Renaissance. New York, 1933, unpaginated, pl. 307.
Raimond van Marle. The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. Vol. 16, The Hague, 1937, p. 302, fig. 168, dates it between 1480 and 1492; calls it similar to a "Madonna and Child with Saints John the Baptist and Catherine" formerly in the Cremer collection, Dortmund, and later with Duveen, New York.
Duveen Pictures in Public Collections of America. New York, 1941, unpaginated, no. 120, ill., dates it about 1480.
Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. Washington, 1941, p. 140, no. 333, dates it about 1480–90; calls it closely related to the "Madonna and Child with Saints John the Baptist and Catherine" in the Stoclet collection, Brussels.
John Pope-Hennessy. "The Development of Realistic Painting in Siena—II." Burlington Magazine 84 (June 1944), p. 144, notes the influence of Vecchietta's Spedaletto altarpiece (Museo Diocesano, Pienza).
Cesare Brandi. Quattrocentisti senesi. Milan, 1949, p. 271, pl. 234, dates it between 1480 and 1492.
Gertrude Coor. Neroccio de' Landi, 1447–1500. Princeton, 1961, pp. 80–81, 85, 95–97, 122, 190–91, no. 62, figs. 51–52 (details) and frontispiece, dates it to the early 1490s, but before the "Madonna and Child with Saints" dated 1492 in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena; relates the head of the Magdalen to that of a young woman on a painted mirror frame (Victoria and Albert Museum, London).
Fern Rusk Shapley. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. Vol. 1, Italian Schools: XIII–XV Century. London, 1966, p. 155, no. K411, fig. 415.
Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Central Italian and North Italian Schools. London, 1968, vol. 1, p. 292.
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 148, 320, 407, 430, 609.
Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sienese and Central Italian Schools. New York, 1980, p. 55, pl. 66, date it to the early 1490s, close in time to the "Madonna and Child with Saints" of 1492 in Siena.
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 226, 232, fig. 401.
The frame is from Siena and dates to about 1490 (see Additional Images, figs. 1–2). This tabernacle frame with its lunette above and antependium below is constructed of poplar and water gilded and painted on a brownish orange bole over a gesso ground. The lunette is attributed to Francesco di Giorgio who shared a studio with the artist. The frame is crested by unusual carved anthemions connected by undulating ribbon which encircles floral paterae found repeated at the capitals and at the base. The strong molded cornice with a sgraffito painted frieze is supported by stop-fluted pilasters with carved capitals ornamented with anthemions and clasped volutes. At the base a flared articulated volute is supported by carved acanthus leaves and flanks a spined shield with tendrils above anthemions. Because the antependium retains its original surface it differs in tone from the regilded upper frame. The two components were serendipitously reunited in 1996. A horizontal gilded strip at the base of the sight edge serves as a spacer for the panel.
The frame replaces a twentieth-century imitation Renaissance frame probably made in the workshop of Ferruccio Vannoni (1881–1965), who was extensively employed by the Duveen firm. (For Vannoni, see Karen Serres, “Duveen’s Italian Framemaker, Ferruccio Vannoni,” Burlington Magazine 159 (May 2017), pp. 366–74.)
[Timothy Newbery with Cynthia Moyer 2016; further information on this frame can be found in the Department of European Paintings files]