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Moretti Fine Art shows fine works by Italian masters in Shanghai for the first time
The Master of Memphis (Florence, active c.1500-1510), The Holy Family with the Infant Saint John the Baptist and two shepherds. Oil on panel, diameter: 112 cm.

SHANGHAI.- Exhibiting at the Shanghai Fine Jewellery and Art Fair (Stand G5) at the Shanghai Exhibition Center (SEC), China, from 3 to 11 November 2012 for the first time, Moretti Fine Art presents fine works by masters of the Italian Renaissance and other periods to this new and exciting market.

One of the highlights is a Florentine tondo, depicting The Holy Family with the Infant Saint John the Baptist and two shepherds by The Master of Memphis (active c.1500-1510). When this panel appeared at auction in 1961 it was catalogued as by Filippino Lippi (c.1457-1504), son and pupil of Fra Filippo Lippi (c.1406-1459), but scholars, including Everett Fahy, Jonathan Nelson and Patrizia Zambrano, have subsequently attributed this tender devotional image to the anonymous Master of Memphis. The latter, an unidentified assistant to Filippino, has been dubbed the Master of Memphis after a work in the collection of the Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, Tennessee. His paintings can be identified by the characteristically long and slender fingers and toes of his figures, their rather abrupt gestures and voluminous drapery, with numerous folds and pleats, all of which are evident in this work. This tondo is similar to works attributed to Filippino himself, and thus also demonstrates the influence of Fra Filippo Lippi and Botticelli. There is a particular, obvious delight in the details of the landscape in the background, the tiny plants and grasses in the foreground as well as the hazy blue mountains and towers of the town in the distance that is typical of Filippino.

Astronomy was a science associated in antiquity with Urania, one of the nine Muses whose task it was ‘to measure the heavens and consider the measurements of their movements’. An Allegory of Astronomy by Giovanni Martinelli (1600-1659) is one of a series of four canvases, executed by the artist for the Rospigliosi family, dedicated to the arts of the Trivium and the Quadrivium (Architecture, Astronomy, Geometry and Painting). Martinelli was one of a number of artists of the Italian Seicento who painted allegorical works of rare elegance. Dating to the 1650s, this work was executed at a late stage in Martinelli’s career. Inexplicably ignored by contemporary biographers and other old sources, Martinelli finally received the acknowledgement he deserves last year, on the 500th anniversary of his birth, when he was the subject of a monograph with essays dedicated to various aspects of his brilliant canvases and frescoes, both sacred and profane, as well as a small exhibition in his native town of Arezzo.

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