TEFAF Maastricht 2019
Giovanni Battista Salvi Il Sassoferrato
The Madonna In Prayer
Oil on canvas
50.3 x 39.5 cm
19 3/4 x 15 1/2 in
19 3/4 x 15 1/2 in
PublicationsF. Macé de Lepinay, Sassoferrato, exh. cat., Milan 1990, p. 48, cat. no. 3, reproduced.
Sassoferrato's compositions of the Madonna in Prayer are amongst his most celebrated images and this previously unknown painting is amongst the best versions to come to the market in recent years. The sheer quantity of Sassoferrato's depictions of the Virgin are testament to their popularity in Rome in the mid seventeenth-century. The Counter Reformation's increased emphasis on the veneration of the Virgin and the huge upsurge in literature and art surrounding the Marian cult meant Sassoferrato's intense and moving depictions of the Madonna were much in demand. In some of his depictions of this type his execution and treatment of the subject feels rather formulaic, and one can credit the tale that he kept stacks of canvases depicting the Virgin in the back of his workshop for immediate sale. The present painting, however, is so carefully and exquisitely painted that although its early history is unknown one can suppose it must have been an important commission for the artist. Sassoferrato constantly varied the details of his Madonnas in the drapery, the tilt of head, the facial expressions and in his use of shadow. Of the other known variants of this type, the Madonna with her head down, gazing lower left, hands half visible, clasped in prayer, clad in a simple red robe, white veil and blue overmantle, the closest are the painting in the Accademia Carrara, Bergamo. Attribution to Sassoferrato endorsed by Professor François Macé de Lepinay on the basis of photographs. Please note that the price and availability of the above work may change without prior notice.