- Museum number
The Virgin and Christ Child, half-length to front. c.1500
Metalpoint, touches of pen and brown ink on the neck of the Virgin's dress, heightened with white, on blue-green prepared paper
- Production date
Height: 371 millimetres
Width: 296 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The artist takes his name from the altarpiece formerly in the church of Sant'Ambrogio ad Nemus, Milan and now in the Brera of the 'Virgin and Child with the Church Doctors and the family of Ludovico il Moro' (Marani, colour pl. 63, p. 189). The painting has been assigned to various followers of Leonardo in Milan, but his identity is still unknown although it is generally agreed that he was working in Milan c.1490 to c.1510/20. A corpus of some fifteen works by the artist has been established and a small group of drawings. The present drawing, particularly the figure of the Christ Child, is comparable to the Virgin and Child in the Brera painting but it corresponds even more closely to the 'Virgin with Saint Roch and a donor' formerly in the Cora collection, Turin (Suida, fig. 183; A. Venturi, 'Storia dell'arte italiana', Milan, 1915, fig. 722, p. 1047) and now in the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation, Houston Museum of Fine Arts (Brown 2003, fig. 22). The drawing is also stylistically similar to a 'Virgin and Child' in Berlin (Marani, fig. 59, p. 183). The only certain date for the artist is a document of 22 January 1494 from the Duke's secretary Marchesino Stanga accompanying the artist's design for the Sforza altarpiece. The Berlin painting and the ex-Cora work are dated by Marani to the same period in the first half of the 1490s. For a discussion of the chronology and oeuvre of the artist see Marani, 1998, pp. 179-98.
Lit.: W. Suida, 'Leonardo und sein Kreis', Munich, 1929, p. 182; A.E. Popham and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries',London, 1950, no. 292, p. 186 (with previous literature); M.T. Binaghi, 'Il ciclo di Annone Brianza', in G. Romano, M.T. Binaghi and D. Collura, 'Il Maestro della Pala Sforzesca', "Quaderni di Brera", 4, 1978, fig. 13, p. 28; P.C. Marani, 'Master of the Pala Sforzesca', in G. Bora et al, 'The Legacy of Leonardo, Painters in Lombardy', Milan, 1998, p. 185; D.A. Brown, Leonardo da Vinci, art and devotion in the Madonnas of his Pupils', Milan, 2003, p. 36, fig. 21
Popham & Pouncey 1950
The resemblance between our drawing and the 'Pala Sforzesca' in the Brera (no. 310; cf. in particular the position of the Child) seems to have been early recognized, since the attribution of the drawing has followed that of the 'Pala', first to Leonardo, then to Zenale, and then to Bernardino de' Conti. Morelli, who proposed the latter attribution, though at first (1880) content to group the drawing with the 'Pala' on stylistic grounds alone, later (1890) regarded it as a study for the Virgin and Child in the 'Pala'. Bode detached a number of works, including the 'Pala' and our drawing, which all seemed to him to be by the same hand, from the œuvre of Bernardino thus inflated by Morelli; he regarded our drawing as a study for a 'Madonna' at Berlin (no. 284 a), with which it has only a stylistic connection. Loeser regarded it as a study for the Pala, adding that he knew of no drawing more characteristic of Ambrogio de' Predis. Malaguzzi-Valeri was the first to notice that our drawing corresponds closely with another picture by this artist (to whom he gave the name of 'The Master of the 'Pala Sforzesca'), a 'Madonna with S. James and a Donor' (repr. Suida, op. cit., fig. 183, as in the Cora collection, Florence). Suida dates this work c. 1500, in the artist's later period.
The quality of the drawing suggests that it is an original study, though not necessarily for the Cora Madonna, from which it diverges in certain respects (e.g. in the position of the Child's r. leg). The Milanese School is so repetitive that it is possible that a picture may have existed which corresponded even more closely with this drawing.
The Master of the 'Pala Sforzesca' was an artist, trained in the early Milanese tradition of Foppa, who came under the influence of Leonardo after the latter settled in Milan about 1483. Various suggestions have been made about his identity, but none has found general acceptance.
Literature: G. Morelli, München, Dresden und Berlin, Leipzig, 1880, p. 467; W. Bode, Gazette, i (1889), pp. 497 f.; G. Morelli, Die Galerien Borghese und Doria Panfili, Leipzig, 1890, p. 250; B.M. Guide, 1891, no. 25; C. Loeser, Rassegna d'arte, i (1901), p. 66; F. Malaguzzi Valeri, ibid., v (1905), p. 47 (repr.); W. von Seidlitz, Vienna Jahrbuch, xxvi (1906/7), pp. 6, 8 n., 12 (fig. 4); E. Jacobsen, Rassegna d'arte, x (1910), pp. 53 f.; W. Suida, Leonardo und sein Kreis, Munich, 1929, p. 182.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- 1861,0810.1 to 31 were selected from the collection of John Heywood Hawkins, and were acquired through Colnaghi for a global price of £624 4s 6d. The individual prices are taken from a memorandum in the Letter Book, which unfortunately is not the final list and does not include everything that was finally purchased (and does list four Turner drawings that were not acquired).
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number