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 1475/1480. 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.
Reputedly the Capelle Pucci at Florence, whence bought by (Henry?) Tresham for Lord Cawdor; his sale, Skinner and Dyke, 6 June 1800, lot 27 (lot 26 was the 'Birth of the Baptist'); anonymous sale, Christies (probably Col. Matthew Smith), 12 May 1804, lot 41, probably bought in. (lot 42, listed as a companion, was the 'Birth of the Baptist'. It was bought by Roscoe and is now in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool). The Polesden Lacey panel was put up for sale a (?)second time by Col. 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, through Borenius (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)
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 attributed to Filippino Lippi (Prato c.1457 – Florence 1504), artist