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The Miracle of the Founding of Santa Maria Maggiore with a Fall of Snow (5th August 352) (predella panel)

attributed to Perugino (Citta della Pieve c.1450 – Fontignano 1523)

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

circa 1470 - 1476

Materials

Oil on poplar panel

Measurements

184 x 400 mm

Place of origin

Florence

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Collection

Polesden Lacey, Surrey (Accredited Museum)

On show at

Polesden Lacey, Surrey, London and South East, National Trust

NT 1246461

Summary

Oil painting on poplar panel (horizontal oval), The Miracle of the Founding of Santa Maria Maggiore with a Fall of Snow (5th August 352) (predella panel), attributed to Perugino (Citta della Pieve c.1450 – Fontignano 1523), circa 1470/1476. In the centre the Madonna appears in clouds while falling snow marks the site of the church; on the left the Pope raises his mattock, watched by the patrician John from the other side; behind each are attendant figures; in the background are Renaissance buildings. Seal on reverse. In shadow box. In red and white feigned-marble oval framing which also appears in the Birth of the Virgin predella panel, Walker Art Gallery. There would have presumably been a third panel in the series which would have been placed below an altarpiece (not known). There are other 15th-century representations of the 'Miracle of the Foundation' in Florence: series of stained glass windows in Orsanmichele devoted to the Miracles of the Virgin and a fresco by Lorenzo Monaco in Santa Trinita and Jacop Bellini's 1444 Brescian (San Alessandro) altarpiece of the Annunciation has these scenes in its predella, along with Presentation, Visitation and Dormition.

Provenance

Reputedly in the chapel of the Casa Pucci in Florence, whence bought by Henry Tresham (1756-1814) for Lord Cawdor (1753-1821) between 1775 - 1789; his sale, Skinner and Dyke, 6 June 1800, lot 27 (lot 26 was the 'Birth of the Baptist'); anonymous sale, Christie's (probably Colonel Matthew Smith), 12 May 1804, lot 41, probably bought in (lot 42, listed as a companion was the 'Birth of the Baptist' and attributed to Masaccio [now called Birth of the Virgin] bought by William Roscoe (1753 - 1831) for 9 guineas and is now in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool). The Polesden Lacey panel was put up for sale (possibly) a second time by Colonel Matthew Smith, Christie's, 1 May 1812, lot 52, bought in. Nothing more appears to be known about it until it was acquired at an unspecified date by Mrs Greville from Langton Douglas (1864 - 1951), through Tancred Borenius (1885 - 1948) (and bought as a Filippino Lippi); bequeathed by Margaret McEwan, The Hon. Mrs Ronald Greville (1863-1942) with Polesden Lacey, to the National Trust, in memory of her father, William McEwan (1827-1913)

Credit line

Polesden Lacey, The McEwan Collection (National Trust)

Marks and inscriptions

Verso: on back of panel ( still thick, and with the four nicks where original held in place): top left, red wax seal of [presumably] Lord Cawdor [ a zig-zag between three roses, with a long-tailed beast as crest]; in old ink: Maso/& [?]/ [--------][ both words illegible]; on large paper label, in ink:The Miracle on Founding the Church of Sta Marai Magiore [on] the Equiline Hill in Rome - John, a noble Patrician in the reign of the Empr./ Contantione and in the Pontificate of St Liberius, on the birth of a son mad/ a vow in conjuntion with his consort to build a Church, and dedicate/it to the Blessed Virgin: uncrtain where to put it, the Virgin appeared to /John, in a vision, ordered him to build a Church to the Most/Holy Virgin on that spot, on whihch he should the next day observe a /Mircale. Accordingly, on going over the City, the following day: being the /5th of August 352, an heavy shower of snow fell on the Esquiline hil, and covered/ a alrge span of Ground: the Vision and Miracle were considered confirmed, / and on that spot John created his Church - Vide Wright. Vasi Jacobi/Lauri etc; and on panel in pencil: No. 5

Makers and roles

attributed to Perugino (Citta della Pieve c.1450 – Fontignano 1523), artist previously catalogued as attributed to Filippino Lippi (Prato c.1457 – Florence 1504), artist

References

Le Pérugin Maître de Raphaël (Perugino), Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, 12 September 2014 - 19 January 2015, no. 6, pp. 67-87, 71, 72

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