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Gentile da Fabriano
Madonna and Child Enthroned

c. 1420
tempera on poplar panel
95.7 x 56.5 cm (37 11/16 x 22 1/4 in)
Alexander Barker [d. 1873], London, who possibly acquired it in Florence; [1] (his sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 6 June 1874, no. 45); (Grüner). E.J. Sartoris, London(?), and Paris, by 1876; [2] (Nathan Wildenstein and René Gimpel, Paris and New York), by 1913; [3] purchased 1918 by Henry Goldman [1856-1937], New York; [4] (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London and New York); [5] sold March 1937 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; [6] gift 1939 to NGA. [1] On Barker as a collector see Gustav Friedrich Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain, 3 vols., London, 1854: 2:125-129, and Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain, London, 1857: 71-79; George Redford, Art Sales: A History of Sales of Pictures and Other Works of Art, 2 vols., London, 1888: 1:194; and John Fleming, "Art Dealing in the Risorgimento-II," The Burlington Magazine 121 (1979): 505-506. Barker frequently visited Florence and apparently knew both the city and its art market very well; it is likely therefore that he acquired the panel in this city, perhaps (since Waagen fails to cite the painting in his collection), after 1857. A fact that apparently challenges this work's provenance from the Barker collection is that the description given in the sale catalogue of 1874 ("The Madonna with the Infant Savior seated upon her lap holding a pomegranate") does not correspond with the appearance of this painting. There is some chance that the pomegranate was the result of a restorer's effort to reconstruct the object held by the Child and that it was cleaned away sometime between 1874 and 1911, and it cannot be excluded that the description was inaccurate. In fact, it is difficult to see why the Barker provenance should have been "invented" as early as 1922, in Valentiner's entry for the catalogue of the Goldman collection. [2] In an entry dated 7 July 1918, made shortly after the sale of the painting to Henry Goldman, the dealer René Gimpel wrote in his diary that the painting "avait appartenu à un canadien anglais, Mr. Sartis [sic], qui, était venu se fixer à Paris, l'avait prêté au Musée des Arts Décoratifs" ("had belonged to an English Canadian, Mr. Sartis, who, having settled in Paris, had lent it to the Musée des Arts Decoratifs") (see René Gimpel, Journal d'un collectionneur, marchandde tableaux, Paris, 1963; English ed., Diary of an Art Dealer, New York, 1966). One can presume that the collector was living in London around 1876, when he lent the painting to the exhibition of the Royal Academy there. It is not known how long the painting hung in the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, but since Colasanti was able to publish it in the first issue of Bollettino d'Arte for the year 1911, it was certainly there at least by 1910. And in fact Gimpel 1963: 55, who probably acquired the painting in 1912, wrote that "il etait resté longtemps exposé" in the museum. [3] See Everett Fahy, "Review of Fern Rusk Shapley, Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Italian Schools, XV-XVI Century," Art Bulletin 56, no. 2 (June 1974): 283. The photograph of the painting in the Biblioteca Berenson at I Tatti near Florence bears the stamp "Wildenstein-Gimpel, New York." A letter from Bernard Berenson dated 14 January 1913 to René Gimpel (copy in NGA curatorial files) proves that at this date, and very probably already by the end of the preceding year, the painting was in Gimpel's possession. [4] Fahy 1974: 283 gives the date of the sale to Henry Goldman as "before July 1, 1918." [5] See Duveen Pictures in Public Collections of America, New York, 1941: no. 26. [6] The Duveen Brothers letter confirming the sale twenty-four paintings, including NGA 1939.1.255, is dated 9 March 1937; the provenance is given as "Henry Goldman Collection" (copy in NGA curatorial files; Box 474, Folder 5, Duveen Brothers Records, accession number 960015, Research Library, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles).
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