- Museum number
The Virgin and Child enthroned between St Helena and St Michael; the Virgin sitting on a throne with a shell niche; the Child, making a gesture of blessing and holding a pomegranate (symbol of the Passion) in his left hand, sitting in her lap on a pillow; flanked by St Helena holding a cross on the left and by St Michael holding a sword and a globe on the right; in the background rising cypress. c.1480-90
- Production date
- 1480-1490 (circa)
Height: 332 millimetres (cut above)
Width: 273 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This print belongs to a group of engravings of miscellaneous subjects catalogued by Hind as anonymous Florentine prints of about 1470-1500, executed in a style called by the scholar the 'Broad Manner'. The group is now convincingly attributed to Francesco Rosselli. Almost every one of them can be identified with items listed in the inventory of Rosselli himself (1525) and they were probably engraved on opposite sides of individual copperplates. All are exceptionally large and several can be related to inventions preserved in drawings ascribed to Maso Finiguerra or to prototypes by Botticelli. Vasari in his life of Botticelli (second edition) stated that the painter "had many of his designs engraved in a poor style, the cutting being badly done"; Hind suggested that he was referring to prints such as the present one. For a recent discussion of the issue see Mark J. Zucker, 'The Illustrated Bartsch, Commentary', vol. 24, part 2, 1994, p. 74.
The present engraving is an early impression, another is in Paris. This print was probably engraved on the verso of a plate with the 'Last Supper' (Hind B.III.11; Zucker, 'The Illustrated Bartsch, Commentary', vol. 24, part 2, 1994, p. 93, no. 70), noted in the Rosselli's inventory (1525): "1o cienacholo, da l'altra banda 1a nostra donna' (a last supper, [and] on the other side an Our Lady).
The print is related in style to Botticelli, although no surviving work by the master, his workshop or his followers corresponds to it precisely. However, some of Botticelli's paintings are analogous in design: the so-called 'Bardi Altarpiece' of 1484 now in Berlin, that has similar architectural details; the 'San Barnarba Altarpiece' in the Uffizi, probably dating to the late 1480s, in which the figures of the Madonna and Child and of the St Michael correspond to those in the engraving; and an altarpiece from the Medici villa at Trebbio (now on deposit at the Accademia in Florence), with a shell-niche throne and the cypress rising in the foreground like in the print. The composition was copied on a large Caffagiolo plaque in the Kunsthistoriskt Museum at Lund (Sweden) and on a Faenza plate formerly in the possession of the dealer A.S. Drey in Munich.
This print was issued as a black and white facsimile by the British Museum in 'Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, Reproduced by Photographic Process', [First Series] Part I (Italian Prints), Published by the Trustees in 1882, where it was number XIII and described there as 'Giovanni Maria da Brescia. The Madonna with St. Helena and St. Michael, 1470-1510.'; (Shelfmark 245*.b.12).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2016 16 Jan - 3 Apr, Tokyo, Metropolitan Art Museum, 'Botticelli and his Time'
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number