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Francesco Francia
Bishop Altobello Averoldo

c. 1505
oil on poplar panel
painted surface: 52.8 x 40 cm (20 13/16 x 15 3/4 in)
Purchased 24 March 1837 by Generale Conte Teodoro Lechi [1778-1866], Brescia, from a certain Mr. Bonaldi; sold 31 May 1847 to Graf Samuel von Festetits [1806-1859], Vienna; [1] sold 1859 to Heinrich Adamberger, Vienna; [2] (his sale, Posonyi, Vienna, 24-28 April 1871, no. 1); Friedrich Jakob Gsell, Vienna; (his sale, G. Plach, Vienna, 14 March 1872, no. 152); Baron Nathaniel Mayer von Rothschild [1836-1905], Vienna; by inheritance to his nephew, Baron Alphons de Rothschild [1878-1942]; [3] his widow, Baroness Clarice de Rothschild [1894-1967]; (Frederick Mont, New York); sold 2 March 1948 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; [4] gift 1952 to NGA. [1] Fausto Lechi, I quadri delle collezioni Lechi in Brescia: Storia e documenti, Florence, 1968: 174, notes that an early Lechi collection inventory attributed the work to Raphael, an ascription later "corrected" in the archive files. In his diary of October 1857 Otto Mündler describes a portrait of Altobello Averoldo in the collection of the Abate Antonio Averoldi in Brescia: "A fine portrait of Altobello Alveroldo, splendidly coloured, which I take to be an undoubted Lorenzo Costa, in his francia-lilke stile. [sic] The face rather wooden, particularly the nose badly drawn, it would be otherwise a first-rate portrait. Golden tone." In the index for the transcribed diary the Gallery's painting is said to be the one described by Mündler, but the 1847 sale of the painting by Lechi to Von Festetits would seem to preclude this. See The Travel Diaries of Otto Mündler 1855-1858, ed. Carol Togneri Dowd, in Walpole Society 51 [1985]: 174, 272. [2] The von Festetits sale to Adamberger is referred to in Theodor von Frimmel, Lexikon der Wiener Gemäldesammlungen, 2 vols., Vienna, 1913-1914: 1:3. Frimmel notes the provenance through the acquisition by Baron de Rothschild. In his entry on the Festetits collection, Frimmel notes that Gsell bought almost a quarter of the pictures offered in the Festetis estate sale held in Vienna in March and April 1859, but the NGA painting is not included in the transcription of the sales catalogue provided by Frimmel. [3] Frimmel 1913-1914, 1:3. Fern Rusk Shapley (in Catalogue of the Italian Paintings, 2 vols., Washington, D.C., 1979: 1:192) gives the name of the Rothschild owner as Baron Nathaniel Mayer de Rothschild of Tring, Hertfordshire. This was corrected by Ellis Waterhouse in a review of Shapley's book: "The Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild...who owned the Francia portrait was not the one of Tring, but the one of Vienna" ("The National Gallery of Art, Washington and Dulwich Catalogues," The Burlington Magazine XCCII [September 1980]: 638). This painting was among the Rothschild collections confiscated by the Nazis in Austria in 1938. It was discovered at the abbey in Kremsmünster and transferred to the salt mine at Alt Aussee. By August 1947 it was transferred to the control of the Bundesdenkmalamt, Vienna. (Alt Aussee receipt for objects of Austrian origin, dated 14 July 1947, item number 1169, National Archives RG 260/USACA/Records of the MFAA Branch/Monuments and Fine Arts Lists, Receipts and Reports of Objects for Restitution to Legal Ownership/Box 1/408-17 Monuments and Fine Arts - Inventory Lists of Art Depots, copy in NGA curatorial files.) It was restituted to the Rothschild family on 16 October 1947 (Index card for AR 873, restitution decision in Zl. 5739/47 dated 23 September 1947; export license in Zl 5905/47 dated 3 October 1947, all Bundesdenkmalamt, Vienna, copies in NGA curatorial files). [4] The bill of sale from Frederick Mont to the Kress Foundation is dated 2 March 1948, and marked paid three days later (copy in NGA curatorial files).
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