Colnaghi Foundation Journal 04 - Page 165



162
Selling Botticelli to America: Colnaghi, Bernard Berenson and the sale of the Madonna of the Eucharist to Isabella Stewart Gardner
Selling Botticelli to America: Colnaghi, Bernard Berenson and the sale of the Madonna of the Eucharist to Isabella Stewart Gardner
When the Berensons visited Fenway Court in
largely on the arrangement of the museum which
1903, they were shocked to see the Antinori Nativity
opened to the public in 1903, paving the way for
hanging opposite the Chigi Madonna. Mary
other American collectors whose private collections
Berenson recorded that it was “a very poor picture”
were turned into museums such as Frick and the
and Bernard “nearly fainted” and “was absolutely
Huntingtons. As for Prince Chigi, he remained
petrified with horror and disgust,” although
a good client of Colnaghi’s despite his painful
this may have been partially attributable to the
experience in the Italian courts, and in 1906 another
realization that he no longer had a monopoly as
picture from his collection, the Titian Portrait of
Gardner’s art advisor.
Aretino, (fig. 24) found its way, through the agency of
95
Fig. 23 / Workshop of Sandro
Botticelli, The Antinori Nativity,
ca. 1482-1485, oil and tempera
on panel, diameter 76 cm,
Boston, Isabella Stewart
Gardner Museum.
Fig. 24 / Titian, Pietro
Aretino, ca. 1537, oil
on canvas, 101.9 x
85.7 cm, New York,
The Frick Collection.
163
Colnaghi and Knoedler, into hands of Henry Clay
By 1902 Isabella Stewart Gardner’s heyday as an Old
Frick, marking the beginnings of a new chapter in
Master collector was over and she was to concentrate
Colnaghi’s dealings with American collectors.

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