click image to enlarge

Vincenzo Foppa
Saint Bernardino of Siena

c. 1495/1500
oil (?) on panel
148.9 x 57 cm (58 5/8 x 22 7/16 in)
Possibly executed for San Francesco Grande, Milan. [1] possibly private collection, Romagna, by c. 1900. [2] Sir Frederick Lucas Cook, 2nd bt. [1844-1920], Doughty House, Richmond, Surrey, by 1903; [3] by inheritance to his son, Sir Herbert Frederick Cook, 3rd bt. [1868-1939], Doughty House; by inheritance to his son, Sir Francis Ferdinand Maurice Cook, 4th bt. [1907-1978], Doughty House, and Cothay Manor, Somerset; sold June or July 1947 to (Gualtiero Volterra, London)[4] for (Count Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi, Florence); [5] sold July 1948 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; [6] gift 1952 to NGA. [1] NGA 1952.5.63 and NGA 1961.9.72 must have made up the wings of a lost altarpiece. No other element of the complex has yet been found, but an attempt can be made to identify at least some of them among the artist's surviving works. Two of these paintings, images of the Angel Gabriel and the Virgin Annunciate, are in the Borromeo collection at Isola Bella, in the province of Novara. Originally they were certainly part of the upper register of an altarpiece, and judging from their dimensions and stylistic traits, they could very well belong to the same complex as the NGA paintings. The provenance of the two panels in the Borromeo collection is not known, but they were in the family's possession at least from the mid-nineteenth century, and perhaps from the moment of the suppression of churches belonging to the monastic orders at the beginning of that century. If the hypotheses of the common origin of these four panels is correct, then their theoretical provenance could be one of the Franciscan churches where the Borromeo family had a chapel. It is tempting to think this could have been the church of San Francesco Grande in Milan, now destroyed. It is known that Filippo Borromeo was buried in San Francesco Grande in 1464, and that a family chapel had been there at least since the renovation of the church in 1570; see Aristide Calderini, "Indagini intorno alla chiesa di San Francesco Grande in Milano," in Real Istituto Lombardo di scienze e lettere. Rendiconti, 73 (1939-1940): 10, 3, 33. Vitaliano Borromeo, who died in 1493, was also buried in San Francesco Grande (see Leopoldo Pullé, "Storia geneologica delle famiglie Vitaliani e Borremeo," in Famiglie notabili Milanesi, Milan, 1875-1885: 2:plate VI). [2] A possible provenance from the Romagna region--which does not necessarily exclude that the panels were realized for a church in Milan or some other city in Lombardy--is strongly suggested by the attribution to an unspecified (Bernardino or Francesco?) painter of the Zaganelli family of Cotignola, reported in the Abridged Catalogue of the Pictures at Doughty House, Richmond, belonging to Sir Frederick Cook..., London, 1903: nos. 82 and 83, and by the fact that the alternative classification, that is, the "connexion with Zenale," was suggested by Corrado Ricci, Superintendent of the Monuments of Emilia-Romagna in the 1890s. [3] In 1904 Herbert Cook mentions these panels, "to which my attention was only recently called by Signor Corrado Ricci" ("Some Notes on the Early Milanese Painters Butinone and Zenale. Part III [Conclusion]--Zenale as a Portrait Painter," The Burlington Magazine V, no. XIV (1904): 202 n. 21); very probably they were acquired by Herbert no more than a few years before they are first mentioned in the 1903 Abridged Catalogue... of his father's collection. Frederick had very little interest in collection. On the Cook collection, see Denis Sutton, "Sir Herbert Cook. An Amateur of the Old School," Gazette des Beaux Arts, Ser. 6, 114 (1989): 301-304. [4] Copies of the relevant correspondence are in NGA curatorial files, from the Cook Collection Archive in care of John Somerville, England. Volterra was Contini-Bonacossi's agent in London. [5] According to a handwritten note on a photo in the Biblioteca Berenson in Florence: "seen at Contini's, April 1948." An expertise by Roberto Longhi on the two panels is also dated April 1948 (copy in NGA curatorial files); the text, written in Italian, was in all probability compiled at Contini-Bonacossi's request. [6] On 7 June 1948 the Kress Foundation made an offer to Contini-Bonacossi for twenty-nine paintings, among them the two saints by Foppa. The offer was accepted, and payment was made 19 July 1948. (See copies of the correspondence in NGA curatorial files.)
Record Link