will present a very special selection of Italian Renaissance masterpieces at its pre-sale preview at the Moscow World Fine Art Fair from 13 to 18 December. A stunning display of works created by the most famous artists of the Florentine and Venetian schools will be on view for the first time in Russia. The overall estimate of the paintings brought to Moscow, is expected to realise in the region of $30 million. Following the Moscow World Fine Art Fair these works will be part of the Renaissance auction to be held in New York, 30 January 2013. Renaissance, a curated sale devoted to the artistic traditions that flourished in Europe from 1300 to 1600, will highlight New Yorks Old Masters Week in January 2013.
Amongst the star attractions of the Moscow preview and Renaissance sale is Sandro Botticellis Madonna and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist (illustrated, estimate: $5,000,000-7,000,000). Intended for private devotional use, the work depicts the Virgin and Child with the young Saint John the Baptist, a popular subject in Florence, as he was the patron saint of the city; his presence was likely intended to signal that the patron was a good Florentine patriot. The tender sentiment between mother and child is combined with an allusion to the Resurrection theme, represented by the tomb-like structure, illustrated in a classical relief, just behind the central figures. The diaphanous veil which covers Madonnas head and shoulders signifies her purity, as this was the traditional head covering of unmarried Florentine women.
The painting comes to the market with a highly distinguished provenance, having been acquired in the early 1930s from Lord Duveen by John D. Rockefeller. It remained in the Rockefeller family for some 50 years, and has more recently passed into a private New York collection, though it is still widely referred to as the Rockefeller Madonna.
Ronald Lightbown, renowned Botticelli scholar, noted in his 1989 book on the artist the scene takes place in a loggia whose parapet is formed of a classical relief, executed in gray with highlighting simulated in gold. This is one of the few direct quotations from the antique in Botticellis work, and its vigorous rendering of the densely moving forms of ancient relief, shows Botticelli was as sensitive as any of his contemporaries to the character and style of classical sculpture. The landscape is rendered as a birds-eye view from the loggia; it is bathed in a gentle sunset light that is very characteristic of this moment in Botticellis art of heightened sensibility to the emotive and dramatic suggestiveness of light and darkness.
Botticellis Madonna and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist has been featured in prominent museum exhibitions, including the important 2004 exhibition Botticelli and Filippino, Passion and Grace in Fifteenth-Century Florentine Painting, held at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. The upcoming global tour and preview at Christies Rockefeller Centre, marks the first major New York exhibition of the painting in more than a dozen years, and its first known viewing within Russia.
Nicholas Hall, International Co-Chairman of Old Masters & 19th Century Art, comments: The Rockefeller Madonna is a rare and important example of Botticellis mature style that now holds its rightful place in the canon of the great masters work thanks to the continued scholarship of leading experts, including Lightbown, Larry Kanter of Yale, and Everett Fahy of New Yorks Metropolitan Museum. Christies is honored to make Madonna and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist a focal point of our global tour of highlights from Januarys Old Master Week sales and give collectors around the world a renewed opportunity to see this beautifully preserved and exquisitely rendered masterpiece.
Further highlights of the Moscow exhibition include a stunning display of Renaissance masterpieces The Madonna and Child by Fra Bartolommeo (Florence 1472 1517), Portrait of Jacopo Boncompagni, three-quarter length, in armor by Scipione Pulzone (Gaeta 15441598 Rome), Madonna and Child by Bartolomeo Veneto (active 1502-1531 Turin). Also exhibited is remarkable pair of views of Rome by the great 18th century vedutista, Giovanni Paolo Panini (Piacenza 16911765 Rome).