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Madonna and Child with the Donor, Pietro de' Lardi, Presented by Saint Nicholas

Master G.Z. (Italian, active Ferrara first third 15th century)

Date:
ca. 1420–30
Medium:
Tempera and gold on wood
Dimensions:
Overall 45 7/8 x 43 5/8 in. (116.5 x 110.8 cm); painted surface 44 1/8 x 41 3/4 in. (112.1 x 106 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Bequest of Adele L. Lehman, in memory of Arthur Lehman, 1965
Accession Number:
65.181.5
  • Gallery Label

    Pietro de' Lardi, who commissioned this important work—a votive altarpiece—became deputy general to Borso d'Este, duke of Ferrara, in 1452. According to the long inscription, it was painted sometime between 1400 and 1431, when Pietro Boiardi was bishop of Ferrara. A succession of rulers of the Este family made Ferrara a center of culture and art. This altarpiece is among the most important testaments to the level of naturalistic description achieved in the city prior to the arrival of Pisanello and Jacopo Bellini.

    The sky, which now appears almost black, would originally have been lighter in color.

  • Catalogue Entry

    The artist of this picture was one of the outstanding painters in early fifteenth-century Ferrara. To him can also be ascribed an altarpiece of the Trinity in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Ferrara; a fresco of the Resurrection in the Oratorio dell'Annunziata, Ferrara (see Images); a Madonna and Child in the church of San Francesco in the town of Carpi; and a fresco in Santa Maria della Sagra, also at Carpi. The Trinity bears the initials G.Z., from which the artist's name is derived; the Resurrection bears the incomplete date 141[?]. The artist was influenced by Jacopo della Quercia, who worked in Ferrara between 1403 and 1408, as well as by Gentile da Fabriano. He has, very tentatively, been identified with the painter Michele dei Carri, who in 1407 was commissioned to paint the chapel for which Jacopo della Quercia sculpted a Madonna and Child. Although the original location of the MMA altarpiece is uncertain, it is said to have come from the famous abbey of Pomposa, near Ferrara. According to the inscription it was painted for Pietro de' Lardi, the land agent in 1452 for Borso d'Este, Duke of Ferrara. Also mentioned in the inscription is Pietro de' Boiardi, Bishop of Ferrara from 1400 to 1431.

    [2010]

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Inscribed (lower left): ALma dei genitrix mundus cui flectitur omnis / HAnc tibi deuoto construxit corde figuram / PEtrus de lardis presentat quem tibi sa[n]ctus / ATque suus pastor Nicolaus, tempore et illo / URbis ferrarie sum[m]o cum laudis honore / PResul erat dominus Petrus noster reuere[n]dus / BOyarde stirpis natus de sanguine claro (Beloved Mother of God, to whom the whole world bows, with devout heart Pietro de' Lardi, whom his pastor Saint Nicholas presents to you, had this picture painted for you at the time when the bishop of the city of Ferrara was our reverend master Pietro Boiardi, born of noble blood and honored with high praise)

  • Provenance

    ?Abbey of Pomposa, near Ferrara; marchese Giovanni Battista Costabili-Containi, Ferrara (by 1838–d. 1841; cat., 1838, no. 3, as by Galasso Galassi); his nephew, marchese Giovanni Battista Costabili-Containi, Ferrara (1841–d. 1882; cats., 1871, 1872, no. 67, as of uncertain attribution [exhibited for sale]; his estate, 1882–85; his estate sale, Sambon, Milan, April 27–29, 1885, no. 22, as School of Murano, 15th century); [comte Avogli Trotti, Paris, by 1905–at least 1914]; [R. Langton Douglas, London; as attributed to Antonio Alberti]; Arthur Lehman, New York (by 1924–d. 1936; as attributed to Alberti); Mrs. Arthur (Adele L.) Lehman, New York (1936–d. 1965)

  • Exhibition History

    New York. World's Fair. "Masterpieces of Art: European Paintings and Sculpture from 1300–1800," May–October 1939, no. 1 (as "The Madonna and Child, with Pietro Lardi and St. Maurilius," attributed to Antonio Alberti, lent by Mrs. Arthur Lehman, New York).

    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Arts of the Middle Ages," February 17–March 24, 1940, no. 62 (as "Pietro Lardi Presented to the Virgin and Child by St. Maurelius," attributed to Antonio da Ferrara, lent by Mrs. Arthur Lehman, New York).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Patterns of Collecting: Selected Acquisitions, 1965–1975," December 6, 1975–March 23, 1976, unnumbered cat.

  • References

    Camillo Laderchi. "L'antica scuola ferrarese." Descrizione della quadreria Costabili. 1, Ferrara, 1838, p. 24, no. 3, attributes it to Galasso Galassi; tentatively identifies the bishop as Pietro Boiardi; notes that it came from the monastery at Pomposa.

    Girolamo Baruffaldi. Vite de' pittori e scultori ferraresi. 1, Ferrara, 1844, p. 53 n. 2, Boschini lists it among additional works by Galasso in Ferrara, including a Trinity in the Pinacoteca.

    Otto Mündler. Diary entry. 2, March 28–29, 1858, p. 58v [published in Carol Togneri Dowd, ed. "The Travel Diaries of Otto Mündler, 1855–1858," Walpole Society 51 (1985), p. 215], notes seeing it in the Costabili collection in Ferrara; attributes it to Galasso.

    Charles Lock Eastlake. Notebook entry. 1861, vol. 1, fol. 14v [National Gallery Archive, London, NG 22/28: 1861 (I); published in Walpole Society 73 (2011), vol. 1, p. 567], attributes it to Galasso.

    Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle. Unpublished manuscript. n.d., p. 23 [Biblioteca Marciana, Venice, 2024/12265/I; see Ref. Zeri and Gardner 1986], attributes it to Galasso.

    J[oseph]. A[rcher]. Crowe and G[iovanni]. B[attista]. Cavalcaselle. A History of Painting in North Italy: Venice, Padua, Vicenza, Verona, Ferrara, Milan, Friuli, Brescia, from the Fourteenth to the Sixteenth Century. London, 1871, vol. 1, p. 515, attributes it to Galasso, along with the Ferrara Trinity and an Entombment (formerly Costabili collection).

    [Gaetano Giordani]. Catalogo de' quadri di varie scuole pittoriche nella galleria Costabili in Ferrara. Bologna, 1871, p. 9, no. 67, as of uncertain attribution; notes that the collection is exhibited for sale.

    [Gaetano Giordani]. Catalogo de' quadri di varie scuole pittoriche nella galleria Costabili in Ferrara. Bologna, 1872, no. 67 [see Ref. Mattaliano 1998].

    Gustave Gruyer. L'art ferrarais à l'époque des princes d'Este. Paris, 1897, vol. 2, p. 50, quotes Ref. Laderchi 1838.

    Salomon Reinach. Répertoire de peintures du moyen age et de la renaissance (1280–1580). 1, Paris, 1905, p. 270, ill. (engraving), attributes it to the school of Murano; identifies the bishop as Pietro Boiardi.

    J[oseph]. A[rcher]. Crowe and G[iovanni]. B[attista]. Cavalcaselle. A History of Painting in North Italy: Venice, Padua, Vicenza, Verona, Ferrara, Milan, Friuli, Brescia, from the Fourteenth to the Sixteenth Century. 2nd ed. [1st ed. 1871]. London, 1912, vol. 2, p. 223.

    Donato Zaccarini. "Antonio Alberti: Il suo maestro ed alcuni pittori ferraresi loro contemporanei." L'arte 17 (1914), pp. 170–71, fig. 2, as in the Trotti collection, Paris; attributes it to the painter of the Ferrara Trinity on which appear the initials G.Z., rejecting the identification of this artist as Galasso Galassi, and calling him the Painter of the Crucifixion with the Initials G. Z. [G. Z. Master]; tentatively identifies the bishop as Saint Maurelius, whose cult was rekindled in Ferrara in 1419, and thus suggests a date for the picture between 1419 and 1431, Pietro Boiardi's final year as bishop.

    F. Mason Perkins. Letter to the Frick Art Reference Library. September 1925 [see note on Frick photo mount], rejects the attribution to Antonio Alberti [to whom it was attributed by Langton Douglas; see Frick photo mount]; believes it is probably either Veronese or Lombard.

    Raimond van Marle. "Late Gothic Painting in North Italy." The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. 7, The Hague, 1926, p. 238, fig. 154, concurs with Zaccarini [see Ref. 1914] in attributing it to the painter of the Ferrara Trinity and in tentatively identifying the bishop as Saint Maurelius; also relates it to five panels depicting the four Evangelists and Saint Maurelius (Pinacoteca, Ferrara).

    Adolfo Venturi. North Italian Painting of the Quattrocento: Emilia. Florence, [1931?], pp. 11, 85 n. 17, pl. 2, rejects Zaccarini's [see Ref. 1914] attribution to the painter of the Ferrara Trinity, ascribing it to an unknown Ferrarese painter.

    Pittura ferrarese del rinascimento. Exh. cat., location unknown. Ferrara, 1933, p. 20, under no. 15, rejects Zaccarini's [see Ref. 1914] attribution to the painter of the Ferrara Trinity.

    Roberto Longhi. Officina ferrarese. Rome, 1934, p. 14–15, pl. 16, considers it superior in quality to contemporary Ferrarese paintings and wonders whether it might be by the master of the Sagra at Carpi, or by Niccolò di Pietro; identifies the bishop as Saint Maurelius.

    Luigi Coletti. "Gli affreschi della 'Sagra' di Carpi e Antonio Alberti." Bollettino d'arte 30 (November 1936), p. 189, notes Longhi's [see Ref. 1934] tentative attribution of this picture to the master of the Carpi frescoes, whom he identifies as Antonio Alberti.

    Roberto Longhi. Ampliamenti nell'officina ferrarese. Florence, 1940, p. 39 n. 1, agrees with Coletti's [see Ref. 1936] attribution of the Carpi frescoes to Antonio Alberti, and believes that this increases the probability that the MMA work is also by him.

    Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. 37, Leipzig, 1950, p. 191, notes Zaccarini's [see Ref. 1914] attribution to the painter of the Ferrara Trinity.

    Luigi Coletti. Pittura veneta del Quattrocento. Novara, 1953, p. XVII, pl. 39c, is uncertain whether it should be attributed to Pisanello or to a Ferrarese artist influenced by him, such as Antonio Alberti.

    Corrado Padovani. La critica d'arte e la pittura ferrarese. Rovigo, 1954, p. 149, cites Laderchi's [see Ref. 1838] attribution to Galasso and Zaccarini's [see Ref. 1914] to the G. Z. Master.

    Giacomo Bargellesi. Notizie di opere d'arte ferrarese. Rovigo, 1955, pp. 12–15, fig. 2, attributes it to Antonio Alberti, dates it about 1425–30, and identifies the bishop as Saint Maurelius.

    Roberto Longhi. "Officina ferrarese: 1934." Opere complete di Roberto Longhi. 5, repr. 1968. Florence, 1956, pp. 12, 169 n. 1, p. 176, fig. 26, reprints text of Refs. 1934 and 1940; retracts his earlier tentative attribution to Alberti and suggests instead Francesco Lola.

    Stefano Bottari. La pittura in Emilia nella prima metà del '400. Bologna, 1958, pp. 79, 87, relates it to the Annunciation fresco in the chapel of Saint Catherine in the Sagra, Carpi; lists various attributions, including Bargellesi's to Alberti.

    Mario Salmi. Pittura e miniatura a Ferrara nel primo rinascimento. Ferrara, 1961, pp. 7–8 n. 2, pl. 1a, rejects Longhi's [see Ref. 1934] attribution to the master of the Sagra; considers it Ferrarese, dates it between 1419 and 1431, and identifies the bishop as Saint Maurelius.

    Maria Teresa Zanchi. "Antonio Alberti da Ferrara e il suo itinerario umbro-marchigiano." Commentari 15 (July–December 1964), pp. 176, 185 n. 12, attributes it to the painter of the frescoes in the chapel of San Martino at the Sagra, Carpi, rejecting the identification of Antonio Alberti as this artist.

    Claus Virch. The Adele and Arthur Lehman Collection. New York, 1965, pp. 18–22, ill. (color), believes the most plausible attribution is to Antonio Alberti; dates it between 1412 and 1431; points out that the inscription identifies the bishop as Saint Nicholas.

    Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 216, 334, 435, 536, 538, 609, as by an unknown Ferrarese painter of the fifteenth century.

    Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti. Stefano da Ferrara: Problemi critici tra Giotto a Padova, l'espansione di Altichiero e il primo quattrocento a Ferrara. Florence, 1972, p. 176 n. 34, cites earlier attributions.

    Filippa M. Aliberti Gaudioso in Restauri nelle Marche: Testimonianze, acquisti e recuperi. Exh. cat., Palazzo Ducale. Urbino, 1973, p. 136, under no. 29, attributes it to Antonio Alberti.

    Serena Padovani. "Materiale per la storia della pittura ferrarese nel primo quattrocento." Antichità viva 13, no. 5 (1974), p. 4, attributes it to Antonio Alberti.

    Serena Padovani. "Pittori della corte estense nel primo quattrocento." Paragone 26 (January 1975), pp. 39–41, 51–52 nn. 38–39, pl. 42, dates it to the late 1420s, contemporary with the frescoes in the chapel of San Martino in the Sagra at Carpi which she also attributes to Alberti; notes the influence of Pisanello.

    Michel Laclotte and Élisabeth Mognetti. Peinture italienne. Paris, 1976, unpaginated, under no. 20.

    Laura Benini. "Descrizione della quadreria Costabili." Musei ferraresi 7 (1977), p. 85, no. 6, as by an unknown fifteenth-century painter.

    Amalia Mezzetti and Emanuele Mattaliano. Indice ragionato delle "Vite de' pittori e scultori ferraresi" di Gerolamo Baruffaldi. 2, Ferrara, 1981, p. 146.

    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. 70–72, pl. 6, attribute it to an unknown Ferrarese (?) painter and date it about 1420–30; question whether it actually came from the monastery at Pomposa since an inventory of the property of the monastery compiled in 1459 does not include any paintings; reject the attribution to Antonio Alberti, relating it to the work of Niccolò di Pietro and to the frescoes in the chapel of San Martino in the Sagra, Carpi; list three additional works possibly by the same artist: a Madonna and Child in a private collection; a fresco of a Madonna and Child in San Francesco, Carpi; and a fresco in Sant'Apollinare, Ferrara.

    Andrea De Marchi. "Michele di Matteo a Venezia e l'eredità lagunare di Gentile da Fabriano." Prospettiva no. 51 (October 1987), pp. 21, 33 nn. 38–39, fig. 8, attributes it to the Master G.Z., to whom, in addition to the eponymous Ferrara Trinity, he also ascribes the frescoes in the chapel of San Martino in the Sagra, Carpi; rejects the identification of this artist as Antonio Alberti.

    Renzo Grandi in La pittura in Italia: il Quattrocento. revised and expanded ed. [Milan], 1987, vol. 1, pp. 232–33, fig. 316, as by the Maestro di Pietro de' Lardi; calls it a masterpiece of rationality distinct from the work of contemporary local artists, including the Master G. Z.

    Michel Laclotte and Élisabeth Mognetti. Avignon, musée du Petit Palais: Peinture italienne. 3rd ed. Paris, 1987, p. 49, under no. 20.

    Massimo Medica in La pittura in Italia: il Quattrocento. revised and expanded ed. [Milan], 1987, vol. 2, p. 692, attributes it to the Maestro di Pietro de' Lardi and relates it to the Sagra frescoes and to a Resurrection in Sant'Apollinare, Ferrara.

    Serena Padovani in Il tempo di Nicolò III. Exh. cat., Rocca di Vignola. Modena, 1988, pp. 72–74, fig. 44, maintains the attribution to Alberti, to whom she also assigns the Carpi frescoes and the fresco of the Resurrection in Sant'Apollinare, Ferrara.

    Carl Brandon Strehlke. "Review of "Il tempo di Nicolò III"." Burlington Magazine 131 (August 1989), p. 563, calls the MMA altarpiece one of the masterpieces of the time of Nicolò III of Ferrara (1393–1441); leaves open the possibility of Alberti's authorship, assigning to the same unspecified painter the San Martino chapel frescoes in Carpi, the Resurrection in Sant'Apollinare in Ravenna, and, probably, the Ferrara Trinity.

    Daniele Benati in La Pinacoteca Nazionale di Ferrara. Bologna, 1990, p. 94, under no. 8, attributes this picture (misidentified as in the National Gallery of Art, Washington), the Sant'Apollinare Resurrection, and the frescoes in the chapel of San Martino in the Sagra at Carpi, to the painter of the Ferrara Trinity, whom he calls the Master G.Z., rejecting the identification with Antonio Alberti.

    Andrea Ugolini. "Rivedendo la collezione Costabili di Ferrara." Paragone 41 (November 1990), p. 53, no. L.3, attributes it to an unknown Ferrarese painter and dates it about 1430.

    Andrea De Marchi. Gentile da Fabriano: Un viaggio nella pittura italiana alla fine del gotico. Milan, 1992, p. 92 n. 89, dates it slightly before 1431; sees the flowers as a reference to Gentile rather than to Pisanello.

    Emanuele Mattaliano. La collezione Costabili. Venice, 1998, p. 34, no. 3, ill. p. 177, lists it with works ascribed to Galasso Galassi when in the Costabili collection.

    Joseph Manca. Cosmè Tura: The Life and Art of a Painter in Estense Ferrara. Oxford, 2000, p. 49, fig. 58, states that it is by an anonymous artist of unknown origins, but made for Ferrara; dates it probably about 1430.

    Joseph Manca. Cosmè Tura: The Life and Art of a Painter in Estense Ferrara. Oxford, 2000, p. 49, fig. 58, states that it is by an anonymous artist of unknown origins, but made for Ferrara; dates it probably about 1430.

    Daniele Benati. "L'affresco con la Resurrezione e il suo autore." L'Oratorio dell'Annunziata di Ferrara: arte, storia, devozione e restauri. Ferrara, 2002, pp. 25, 27, 31 n. 16, ill.

    Michel Laclotte and Esther Moench. Peinture italienne: musée du Petit Palais Avignon. new ed. Paris, 2005, p. 214, under no. 299.

    Andrea De Marchi in Gentile da Fabriano: studi e ricerche. Milan, 2006, p. 38.

    Chiara Guerzi in Gentile da Fabriano and the Other Renaissance. Exh. cat., Spedale di Santa Maria del Buon Gesù, Fabriano. Milan, 2006, p. 138 [Italian ed., "Gentile da Fabriano e l'altro Rinascimento"], mentions it as "commissioned (before 1430–31) from the still anonymous Master G.Z.".

    Laura Cavazzini and Aldo Galli. "Scultori a Ferrara al tempo di Nicolò III." Crocevia estense: contributi per la storia della scultura a Ferrara nel XV secolo. Ferrara, 2007, p. 13, fig. 10.

    Mauro Natale and Giovanni Sassu in Cosmè Tura e Francesco del Cossa: l'arte a Ferrara nell'età di Borso d'Este. Exh. cat., Palazzo dei Diamanti and Palazzo Schifanoia. Ferrara, 2007, p. 38.



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