The Virgin of the Nativity

Workshop of Filippino Lippi (Italian, Prato ca. 1457–1504 Florence)
probably ca. 1500
Tempera and gold on wood
12 3/4 x 9 3/4 in. (32.4 x 24.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Donald S. Klopfer, 1982
Accession Number:
Not on view
The picture is a fragment of a Nativity, the original composition of which is known from an early-sixteenth-century copy in the Musée du Petit Palais in Avignon. The Virgin was shown kneeling on the pavement adoring the Christ Child, who was embraced by the infant Saint John the Baptist. Saint Joseph was behind the infants, and two shepherds appeared to the right behind a broken stone wall. There are minor differences between the present picture and that at Avignon, but they conform in essential features, and there can be no doubt that the present picture was conceived as a small tondo.

The picture probably dates from about 1500. The frame is a twentieth century reproduction.
[Volterra, Florence, ?by 1925–at least 1928]; private collection, Florence (in 1926) or [art dealer, Florence, by 1925–at least 1928]; Mrs. Ben Ali Haggin, Florence, later Tuxedo Park, N.Y. (until 1949; sold to Duveen); [Duveen, New York, 1949–62; sold to Klopfer]; Mr. and Mrs. Donald Klopfer, New York and Bedford, N.Y. (1962–her d. 1979); Donald S. Klopfer, New York (1979–82)
Raimond van Marle. "Una Madonna di Filippino Lippi." Vita artistica 1 (February 1926), pp. 28–29, ill. (framed), as in a private gallery, Florence; attributes it to Filippino and calls it a late work, dating it between 1498 and 1501.

Raimond van Marle. The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. Vol. 12, The Renaissance Painters of Florence in the 15th Century: The Third Generation. The Hague, 1931, pp. 336–37, fig. 217, notes that he saw it some years ago in a private collection in Florence; calls it "probably a fragment of an Adoration of the Child" in the text, but "Madonna of the Annunciation" in the caption.

Katharine B. Neilson. Filippino Lippi: A Critical Study. Cambridge, Mass., 1938, pp. 215–16, rejects the attribution to Filippino and calls the picture a repetition of a Holy Family type, citing an example from the school of Filippino Lippi in the Accademia, Venice.

Keith Christiansen in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1982–1983. New York, 1983, p. 38, ill., calls it a fragment of a painting by Filippino, of which a version attributed to the School of Filippino is in the Musée du Petit Palais, Avignon (formerly Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lille).

Michel Laclotte and Élisabeth Mognetti. Avignon, musée du Petit Palais: Peinture italienne. 3rd ed. Paris, 1987, p. 125, under no. 112.

Marilena Tamassia. Collezioni d'arte tra Ottocento e Novecento: Jacquier fotografi a Firenze 1870–1935. Naples, 1995, pp. 162–63, 276, no. 56601, ill., attributes it to Filippino's workshop on p. 162 and to a follower of Filippino on p. 276; dates it 1480–85; relates it to two versions of "The Adoration of the Child" (Uffizi, Florence, inv. no. 3249; National Gallery of Art, Washington, inv. no. 1937.1.18); notes the influence of Botticelli; states that the Jacquier photograph was taken while the picture was in the Volterra collection, Florence.

Jonathan Katz Nelson and Louis A. Waldman. "La questione dei dipinti postumi di Filippino Lippi: Fra Girolamo da Brescia, il Maestro di Memphis e la pala d'altare a Fabbrica di Peccioli." Filippino Lippi e Pietro Perugino: la "Deposizione" della Santissima Annunziata e il suo restauro. Ed. Franca Falletti and Jonathan Katz Nelson. Livorno, 2004, pp. 142, 147 n. 11, attribute it to Filippino's workshop.

Michel Laclotte and Esther Moench. Peinture italienne: musée du Petit Palais Avignon. new ed. Paris, 2005, p. 140, under no. 159.

This picture is a fragment of a Nativity which depicted the Virgin kneeling on a pavement adoring the Christ Child, Saint John the Baptist embracing the Child, Saint Joseph behind the two infants, and two shepherds at right behind a broken stone wall. The original composition is known from a copy in the Musée du Petit Palais, Avignon (inv. no. 20262).