The Virgin Reading
oil on panel, transferred to canvas
78 x 51 cm (30 11/16 x 20 1/16 in)
Said to have been acquired in Italy by "the travelling Earl of Exeter," John Cecil, 5th earl of Exeter [d. 1700], Burghley House, Northamptonshire, between 1690 and 1700;  by inheritance, probably to his son, John Cecil, 6th earl of Exeter [1674-1721], Burghley House; by inheritance, probably to his son, John Cecil, 7th Earl of Exeter [d. 1722], Burghley House; by inheritance, probably to his brother, Brownlow Cecil, 8th earl of Exeter [d. 1754], Burghley House; by inheritance, probably to his son, Brownlow Cecil, 9th earl of Exeter [1725-1793], Burghley House; by inheritance, probably to his nephew, Henry Cecil, 1st marquess  of Exeter [1754-1804], Burghley House;  by inheritance to his son, Brownlow Cecil, 2nd marquess of Exeter [1795-1867], Burghley House; by inheritance to his son, William Alleyne Cecil, 3rd marquess of Exeter [1825-1895], Burghley House; (his sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 9 June 1888, no. 297, as by Cima da Conegliano); Robert Henry [1850-1929] and Evelyn Holford [1856-1943] Benson, London and Buckhurst Park, Sussex; purchased 1927 by (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London and New York); sold March 1937 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York;  gift 1939 to NGA.  According to Tancred Borenius, Catalogue of Italian Pictures...Collected by Robert and Evelyn Benson, London, 1914: 151, no. 76.  In a letter of 12 November 1984 to Suzannah Fabing, Carol Dowd of the Getty Provenance Index provides references, the earliest from 1797, to a painting described as a "half-length of the Virgin Reading by Garofalo" that is probably the same as NGA 1939.1.354: A History or Description...of Burghley House, the Seat of the Right Honorable the Earl of Exeter, 1797: 71-72; Thomas Blore, A Guide to Burghley House, Northamptonshire, the seat of the Marquis of Exeter containing a catalogue of all the paintings, antiquities, etc. with biographical notices of the artists, 1815: 94; John P. Neale, Views of The Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, 6 vols., London, 1820: 3:unpaginated, entry for Burghley House, Northamptonshire. All the references place the painting in Burghley House.  The Duveen Brothers letter confirming the sale of twenty-four paintings, including NGA 1939.1.354, is dated 9 March 1937; the provenance is given as "Benson Collection" (copy in NGA curatorial files; Box 474, Folder 5, Duveen Brothers Records, accession number 960015, Research Library, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles).