The picture dates to about 1480–82, around the time Rosselli was working in Rome in the Sistine Chapel together with Perugino, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, and Signorelli. It was, however, painted for a Florentine, as the background has a view of the dome of Florence cathedral.
Valesi, Florence (probably sold to Wildenstein); [Wildenstein, New York, in 1910]; Mrs. Benjamin Thaw, New York (by 1917–22; her sale [Madame X. . . ], Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, May 15, 1922, no. 36, as "La Vierge à l'agrafe de perles," for Fr 44,000 to Kleinberger); [Kleinberger, Paris and New York, 1922–23; sold for $9,000 to Friedsam]; Michael Friedsam, New York (1923–d. 1931)
New York. F. Kleinberger Galleries. "Italian Primitives," November 12–30, 1917, no. 31 (lent by Mrs. Benjamin Thaw).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Loan Exhibition of the Arts of the Italian Renaissance," May 7–September 9, 1923, no. 4 (lent by Michael Friedsam).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Michael Friedsam Collection," November 15, 1932–April 9, 1933, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Florentine Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum," June 15–August 15, 1971, no catalogue.
Bernard Berenson. Letter. May 11, 1910, attributes it to Cosimo Rosselli.
"Paris: Galerie Georges Petit." Belvedere 1 (1922), p. 141, pl. LXXI.
Bernard Berenson in The Michael Friedsam Collection. [completed 1928], pp. 93–94, dates it about 1475, and notes that when he first saw it about twenty years previously it was wrongly attributed to Botticelli.
Raimond van Marle. The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. Vol. 11, The Hague, 1929, p. 608, attributes it to Rosselli and calls it a late work, dating it between 1492 and 1505; incorrectly states that it is still in the collection of Mrs. Benjamin Thaw.
R[aimond]. van Marle. "Two Madonnas by Cosimo Rosselli." Burlington Magazine 58 (January 1931), p. 45, pl. A, calls it a fairly early work, dating it about 1476; notes that the niche and columns are repeated from the artist's slightly earlier "Saint Barbara between Saints John the Baptist and Paul" (Accademia, Florence).
Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 492.
Bryson Burroughs and Harry B. Wehle. "The Michael Friedsam Collection: Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27, section 2 (November 1932), p. 35, no. 57, ill. p. 39, date it several years before Rosselli's frescoes in the Sistine Chapel (1481–82).
"Friedsam Bequest to be Exhibited Next November." Art News 30 (January 2, 1932), p. 13.
[Georg] Gronau inAllgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 29, Leipzig, 1935, p. 36.
Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 423.
F. Mason Perkins. Letter. March 24, 1938, writes that he first attributed it to Rosselli in about 1913.
Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, p. 51, ill., notes that a Madonna and Child with angels by Mainardi (Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif.; formerly Weber collection, Hamburg) is based on this picture.
Riccardo Musatti. "Catalogo giovanile di Cosimo Rosselli." Rivista d'arte 26 (1950), p. 127, dates it to the early 1480s.
Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Florentine School. London, 1963, vol. 1, p. 191.
Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Florentine School. New York, 1971, pp. 149–51, ill., date it to the first half of the 1480s; suggest that Verrocchio's influence may come from his sculpture rather than his paintings; note that it is not certain whether this picture or the Mainardi in the Huntington Library was painted first.
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 178, 319, 607.
Mirella Levi d'Ancona. The Garden of the Renaissance: Botanical Symbolism in Italian Painting. Florence, 1977, pp. 370, 541, figs. 148, 148A (overall and detail), identifies the flowers held by the angel at lower right as sweetbriar and notes that the five petals symbolize the five wounds of Christ.
Anna Padoa Rizzo. "Agnolo di Donnino: nuovi documenti, le fonti e la possibile identificazione con il 'Maestro di Santo Spirito'." Rivista d'arte 40 (1988), p. 147, believes that Agnolo di Donnino collaborated with Rosselli on this work.
Edith Gabrielli. "L'attività di Cosimo Rosselli dal primo soggiorno romano all'impresa Sistina." Le due Rome del Quattrocento: Melozzo, Antoniazzo e la cultura artistica del '400 romano. Ed. Sergio Rossi and Stefano Valeri. Rome, 1997, pp. 131–32, 145 n. 98, finds the figure of the Madonna similar to those in the artist's "Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints John the Baptist, Andrew, Bartholomew, and Zenobius" (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge) and "Madonna and Child with an Angel" (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston); dates the Cambridge painting 1478 and places the Boston and MMA works in the same period.
Edith Gabrielli. "L'impresa Sistina e l'ultima 'maniera' di Cosimo Rosselli." Sisto IV: le arti a Roma nel primo rinascimento. Ed. Fabio Benzi with the collaboration of Claudio Crescentini. Rome, 2000, pp. 203, 216 n. 11, fig. 97 (detail), relates the Child to one in the foreground of Rosselli's fresco "The Sermon on the Mount" (1481; Sistine Chapel, Vatican City); finds it difficult to agree with Padoa Rizzo [see Ref. 1988] that Agnolo di Donnino collaborated with Rosselli on the MMA painting.
Paula Nuttall inCosimo Rosselli: Painter of the Sistine Chapel. Exh. cat., George D. and Harriet W. Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Winter Park, Fla., 2001, pp. 17–18, fig. 9 (color), dates it about 1480–85; calls it one of Rosselli's finest works created for private devotions; notes the influence of Netherlandish painting.
Everett Fahy inCosimo Rosselli: Painter of the Sistine Chapel. Exh. cat., George D. and Harriet W. Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Winter Park, Fla., 2001, p. 251.
Philine Helas. "Der 'fliegende Kartograph': Zu dem Federico da Montefeltro und Lorenzo de' Medici gewidmeten Werk 'Le septe giornate della geographia' von Francesco Berlinghieri und dem Bild der Erde im Florenz des Quattrocento." Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 46, no. 2/3 (2002), pp. 285, 312–13 n. 110, fig. 17 (color detail), dates it about 1475–80.
Horton A. Johnson. "The Renaissance Fifth Finger." Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 98 (February 2005), p. 87, fig. 1 (detail).
Edith Gabrielli. Cosimo Rosselli: catalogo ragionato. Turin, 2007, pp. 46, 165–68, 172, no. 48, ill., states that the landscape is unusually prominent for Rosselli, and identifies the building in the background at right as the Duomo of Florence; dates it to the end of the 1470s, along with the altarpieces in Cambridge and Boston, and the "Madonna and Child Enthroned" (on deposit at the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo, Pisa).
The frame is from Andalusia in southern Spain and dates to about 1590 (see Additional Images, figs. 1–4). This Herrera type carved frame is made of pine and is water gilded overall. The strong sight edge molding lies within a frieze which has stiff acanthus leaves at the corners with blocks at the base of their spines. Rusticated dental ornament lies within the top edge which is ornamented in raking flutes emanating from bold corner and center leaves, all inspired by stone carving. The frame retains an early regilding which replaces the sgraffitoed or scribed polychrome paint that would have decorated the original gilded surface in bold colors.
[Timothy Newbery with Cynthia Moyer 2016; further information on this frame can be found in the Department of European Paintings files]
A painting attributed to Sebastiano Mainardi (1466–1513) in the Huntington Library, San Marino, California, is very similar in composition to this work. It is uncertain which was painted first.