Colnaghi Foundation Journal 03 - Page 23

A Renaissance Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist in Kirkcaldy
A Renaissance Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist in Kirkcaldy
Fig. 11 / Attributed to
Master of Volterra, The
Rape of Ganymede, ca.
1535-1540, oil on panel,
180 x 88 cm, Cyfartha
Castle, Museum and Art
Gallery (Merthyr Tydfil
Leisure Trust).
Fig. 12 / Andrea del Sarto
or copyist, Madonna and
Child with the Infant Saint
John the Baptist (The Fries
Madonna), ca. 1521 or
later, oil on panel, 104 x
76 cm, Ascott, Anthony
de Rothschild Collection,
National Trust.
Elena Capretti tentatively proposed that the Master of
Volterra, given his apparent dependence on the style
of Domenico Puligo, might in fact be the only Puligo
pupil named by Vasari: namely Domenico Beceri
of Florence.12 According to Gaetano Milanesi, this
Domenico Beceri was probably a Domenico di Jacopo,
called Beco, listed under 1525 in the alphabetical
catalogue of the Compagnia di San Luca.13 And given
that Vasari says that Beceri was distinguished by his good
colouring, he might not be a totally inappropriate fit for
the Kirkcaldy Master. But that master’s dependence on
the style of Andrea as well as Puligo is pinpointed by
similarities with the poses, characterizations, and the
side-combed Mohican hairstyle of the Christ Child, in
a painting of the Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint
John the Baptist, known as the Fries Madonna (Ascott,
Rothschild Collection) (fig.12), viewed by Shearman as
an original by Andrea, but as a (partial) copy of a lost
prototype by Freedberg, and in the past even attributed
to Puligo.14 Once again, therefore, the possibility of
another hand, or even partial inventor, comes into play.
The projected cleaning of the Kirkcaldy panel,
removing any retouchings, as well as dirty varnish,
might bring the colours and forms of the picture into
closer alignment with one of these assorted rivulets
from the Puligo-del Sarto nexus. In the meantime, we
can view the Kirkcaldy Master as a charming if minor
Florentine exponent of Vasari’s “maniera moderna”,
who was especially close to Domenico Puligo.
I am indebted to David Mannings, Carlo Falciani,
Heidi Hornik, Paul Joannides, David Ekserdjian,
Michael Simpson, and Aaron Thom for discussing
the picture with me; and to Nicola Wilson and Ross
Irving for providing access, as well as information
about the provenance.
It was part of Anstruther Town Council’s collection
until 1975, when all of the Town Councils
were abolished under the Local Government
(Scotland) Act 1973. The painting was not
accessioned by Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery
until 1984, so will have been moved there at some
point between 1975 and 1984.
Further to which see Julian Brooks, Denise Allen,
and Xavier F. Salomon, eds., Andrea del Sarto. The
Renaissance Workshop in Action, exh. cat. (Los Angeles:
the Getty Museum, 2015).
For Puligo see Serena Padovani and Elena Capretti,
eds., Domenico Puligo (1492-1527). Un protagonista
dimenticato della pittura fiorentina, exh. cat. (Florence:
Palazzo Pitti, 2002).
Giorgio Vasari, The Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and
Architects, trans. A.B. Hinds and ed. William Gaunt,
4 vols. (London: J. M. Dent, Everyman’s Library,
1963), II, pp. 264-266.
See Stefano Casciu in Marco Chiarini and Serena
Padovani, eds., La Galleria Palatina e gli appartamenti
reali di Palazzo Pitti. Catalogo dei Dipinti, 2 vols.
(Florence: Centro Di, 2003), II, p. 308.
For Foschi see Sydney J. Freedberg, Painting in Italy
1500-1600, revised ed. (Harmondsworth: Penguin
Books, 1975), pp. 464, 465, 469, and 701-702, n. 37
and 38.
I am indebted to Carlo Falciani for suggesting the
closeness of the Kirkcaldy painter to the Master of
Volterra, though as someone probably in his circle
rather than he himself. For the Maester of Volterra
see Patrizia La Porta, “Per il Maestro di Volterra,”
in Pontormo e Rosso: Atti del convegno di Empoli e Volterra.
Progetti Appiani di Piombino, eds. Roberto P. Ciardi
and Antonio Natali (Venice: Marsilio, 1996), pp.
Photo, Gabinetto Soprintendenza di Firenze no.
See Piero Torriti, La Pinacoteca di Siena (Genoa:
Sagep, 1978), p. 202. The Madonna and Child with the
Infant Saint John is well illustrated in Padovani and
Capretti, Domenico Puligo, p. 95.
The Welsh picture is more naturalistic than the
Michelangelo and also contains several variations,
especially in the architecture and the landscape. It
was purchased by the Museum in 1911 from Mr. W.
Edwards of Pontycapel Brewery. He, in turn, had
acquired it from the painter Harry Dyke Pearce
(information from Kelly Powell of the Cyfartha
Castle Museum). Painted copies of the Michelangelo
survive in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna,
while painted variants of it include Battista Franco’s
Battle of Montemurlo, ca. 1537 (Florence, Galleria
Palatina, Palazzo Pitti). For the latter see Casciu,
Chiarini, and Padovani, La Galleria Palatina, I, p.
125, and II, p. 183. The Cyfartha Castle picture is
most convincingly Florentine and not implausibly by
the Master of Volterra. However, other possibilities
may include a Veronese painter such as Giovanni
Francesco Caroto.
Elena Capretti in Padovani and Capretti, Domenico
Puligo, p 94.
Giorgio Vasari, Le Vite de’ più eccellenti pittori,
scultori ed architettori, ed. Gaetano Milanesi, 9 vols.
(Florence: Sansoni, 1879), IV, p. 468.
John Shearman, Andrea del Sarto, 2 vols. (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1965), I, pl. 85a, and II, no. 58, p.
247; Sydney J. Freedberg, Andrea del Sarto Catalogue
Raisonné (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of
Harvard University Press, 1963), pp. 91-92 and fig. 95.


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