Madonna and Child

Boccaccio Boccaccino (Italian, Ferrara, before 1466–1524/25 Cremona)
Oil on wood
Overall 20 3/8 x 14 5/8 in. (51.8 x 37.1 cm); painted surface 20 x 14 in. (50.8 x 35.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Theodore M. Davis Collection, Bequest of Theodore M. Davis, 1915
Accession Number:
Not on view
Although from Cremona, Boccaccio Boccaccino spent considerable time in Venice: the manner in which the Virgin is posed before a cloth of honor with a distant landscape derives from works by Giovanni Bellini. This charming picture, in which the child tempts a goldfish with a cherry, dates from around 1506–18 (the goldfinch is symbolic of Christ's Passion).
[Giovanni Pallotti, Florence, until May 1893; sold for Fr 3,800 to Davis]; Theodore M. Davis, Newport, R.I. (1893–d. 1915; his estate, on loan to the MMA, 1915–30)
B[ernard]. Berenson. "Les peintures italiennes de New-York et de Boston." Gazette des beaux-arts, 3rd ser., 15 (March 1896), p. 202, attributes it to Boccaccino.

Bernhard Berenson. North Italian Painters of the Renaissance. New York, 1907, p. 168, attributes it to Boccaccino.

Joseph Breck. "Dipinti italiani nella raccolta del Signor Teodoro Davis." Rassegna d'arte 11 (July 1911), p. 113.

Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 88.

Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 76.

Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, p. 152, ill., relates the style to that of contemporary Venetian painters Cima and Alvise Vivarini.

Herbert Friedmann. The Symbolic Goldfinch: Its History and Significance in European Devotional Art. Washington, 1946, pp. 101, 166, pl. 131 (detail).

Alfredo Puerari. Boccaccino. Milan, 1957, pp. 171–72, 232, fig. 138, dates it 1518–20 on p. 171 and 1516–18 on p. 232; notes a relation to Altobello Melone.

Giovanni Mariacher. Il Museo Correr di Venezia: dipinti dal XIV al XVI secolo. Venice, 1957, p. 59, under no. 51, relates it to a similar composition in the Museo Correr, and another in the Museo Civico, Vicenza.

Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Central Italian and North Italian Schools. London, 1968, vol. 1, p. 53, lists it as a ruined work.

A[lfredo]. Puerari in Dizionario biografico degli italiani. Vol. 10, Rome, 1968, p. 830, dates it between 1512 and 1518.

Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 30, 326, 607.

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. 5–6, pl. 48, call it characteristic of the artist's late style, dating it between 1515 and 1520; note that the composition derives from Giovanni Bellini and that the draperies relate to followers of Bellini such as Marco Marziale and Benedetto Diana.

Marco Tanzi. Boccaccio Boccaccino. Soncino, 1991, pp. 76–77, no. 22, ill. (color), relates the composition to a Holy Family with Saint Mary Magdalen (Sant'Agata, Cremona) of 1508, and also to a Madonna and Child formerly in the Harrison collection, Combe House, Presteigne (sold, Christie's, London, March 20, 1964, no. 66).

Alessandro Ballarin. Dosso Dossi: la pittura a Ferrara negli anni del ducato di Alfonso I. Cittadella (Padua), 1994–95, vol. 1, pp. 210–11, no. 56; vol. 2, fig. 87, dates it about 1508.

The painting is in good condition. The panel is thinned and backed with another panel. The original border remains on the vertical and bottom edges but the picture has been cut at the top, which may have been arched. The shadows at the right of the Virgin's mantle have suffered, and there is a large damage to her left knee. There is some rubbing in the thinly painted areas, such as the landscape, and multiple vertical splits have distorted the support.