Francesco Pesellino – 1422-1457 Florentine School (ARCHIVED)

Francesco Pesellino - Madonna & Child.jpg
Francesco Pesellino - Madonna & Child.jpg

Francesco Pesellino – 1422-1457 Florentine School (ARCHIVED)

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Madonna and Child, circa 1450

Tempera on panel, 22.2 x 17.5 cm

Pesellino’s Madonna and Child from the Dreyfus collection is exceptional in that, whereas his other Madonnas are all before simple architectural backgrounds, this Madonna is shown seated in a window opening onto the Tuscan countryside. Naturalistically rendered landscapes were occasionally introduced into their compositions by the Florentine painters, who influenced Pesellino most strongly: Filippo Lippi, who was probably his master, Domenico Veneziano and Fra Angelico. They did not, however, use landscape backgrounds in small devotional images of the Madonna and Child. Pesellino, whose originality shows most clearly in compact, almost miniaturistic compositions, has here combined purely Lippesque figures with a strongly localized topography influenced, perhaps, by the panoramic backgrounds of Antonio Pollajuolo.

The Dreyfus Madonna and Child was bought, probably in Italy, in the mid-nineteenth century, by Louis-Charles Timbal (1821-1880), a professional painter, who on inheriting a small fortune, gave up painting to become an art critic and collector, Timbal combined a loathing of all that was good in contemporary art with an informed passion for the Quattrocento. Panic-stricken by the siege of Paris in 1870, he sold his entire collection to Gustave Dreyfus, a far greater collector of early Italian art, principally of sculpture and plaquettes. In 1929 Dreyfus’ heirs sold the collection to Duveen’s, who subsequently sold all the plaquettes and most of the sculptures to the Kress Foundation for presentation to the National Gallery in Washington. 

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