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Madonna and Child

c. 1310/1315
tempera on poplar panel
painted surface: 85.4 × 61.8 cm (33 5/8 × 24 5/16 in)
Probably commissioned for the church of Santa Croce or the church of Ognissanti, both Florence. [1] Edouard-Alexandre de Max [1869-1924], Paris; [2] sold 1917 to (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London, New York, and Paris); sold to Henry Goldman [1857-1937], New York, by 1920; [3] sold 1 February 1937 back to (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London, New York, and Paris); [4] sold 1939 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; [5] gift 1939 to NGA.

[1] Peter Murray's compilation of polyptychs by Giotto (An Index of attributions made in Tuscan Sources before Vasari, Florence, 1959: 79-89), complemented by the work of Michael Viktor Schwarz and Pia Theis (Giottus pictor, 2 vols., Viienna, Cologne, and Weimar, 2004: 1:285-303), lists, apart from the polyptych in the church of the Badia in Florence, four panels in the church of Santa Croce, one in San Giorgio alla Costa, a Crucifix and a now lost image of Saint Louis of Toulouse formerly in Santa Maria novella, and a Crucifix and four panels in Ognissanti.
[2] Edward Fowles, who managed the Paris office of Duveen Brothers, recalls in his memoirs, “In the autumn of 1917, our old friend Charles Wakefield Mori took me to see an early Florentine Madonna and Child (attributed to Giotto) which belonged to Max, the famous actor of the Comédie Française [in Paris]. As I examined the painting in Max’s bedroom . . . he told me it had been given to his great aunt by the Pope. Berenson considered it an excellent work . . . [by Bernardo Daddi] . . . we agreed to purchase the painting. Berenson later supervised its cleaning and confessed that he was beginning to perceive certain Giottesque qualities . . . I had an Italian frame made for the painting. . . .” (Edward Fowles, Memories of Duveen Brothers, London, 1976: 104). In a letter of 31 October 1958, to Carlyle Burrows (see note 5 below), Fowles relates that he “bought the picture just 44 years ago,” which would have put the purchase in 1914 (Duveen Brothers Records, accession number 960015, Research Library, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles: reel 101, box 246, folder 3; copy in NGA curatorial files). The former owner’s story about the painting’s provenance does not seem plausible; at any rate no evidence can be adduced to corroborate it. On the Romanian-born Edouard de Max, friend of Cocteau and leading tragedian on the Parisian stage in the first decade of the century, see Louis Delluc, Chez de Max, Paris, 1918.
[3] The painting was displayed in the Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition (1920) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, as part of the Goldman Collection.
[4] See the letter of 5 January 1937, from Henry Goldman to Duveen Brothers, in which he confirms the sale to the company of nine paintings and one sculpture (Duveen Brothers Records, reel 312, box 457, folder 4; see also reel 89, box 234, folder 23, and reel 101, box 246, folders 2 and 3; copies in NGA curatorial files). [5] Carlyle Burrows states this in an article in the New York Herald Tribune (30 October 1958): 5.
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