CrivelliCarlo Giovanni Crivelli. His father, Jacopo, was a painter in the San Moise district of Venice, and Carlo was presumably born there, since he usually added Veneti or Venetus to the signatures on his pictures. His date of birth and early life are undocumented. He is first recorded in March 1457, when he was tried, imprisoned for six months and fined 200 lire for adultery with a sailor’s wife. He left Venice early (perhaps after completing his sentence), and in September 1465 he is recorded as a ‘citizen and resident’ of Zara (now Zadir in Croatia). By 1468 he was living in the Marche, where he signed an altarpiece – his earliest dated work – at Massa Fermana. He spent most of the rest of his life in the Marche, travelling considerably but living for some years at Ascoli Piceno. He was knighted in 1490 by Prince Ferdinand (later Ferdinand II of Naples). He died before 3 September 1495.
His style derives from the school of Squarcione at Padua, and evolved little over his thirty-year career. It is characterised by sharp outlines and an emotional use of line, enamel-like finish, and a love of detail, decoration and bright colour. His pictures usually contain fruits, vegetables and flowers (often arranged as swags) and birds and insects, which have symbolic as well as decorative significance. He seems always to have painted in tempera on panel, at a time when Venetian artists were experimenting with oil, and he continued to use gold backgrounds and ornamental devices such as raised gesso-work for saints’ attributes and coloured glass for jewels long after they had gone out of fashion. These 'Gothic' anachronisms were combined with a thoroughly modern mastery of foreshortening and geometric perspective (particularly evident in the National Gallery's famous Annunciation), and a penchant for quirky trompe-l'oeil detail. Crivelli was a superb craftsman, and many of his paintings are still in almost perfect condition. He painted some half-length Madonnas for private patrons; but his major output consisted of large altarpieces (often incorporating ten panels in two tiers and a predella) for churches in the Marche. Most of these were broken up for sale as individual panels in the nineteenth century when his pictures became collectable. His works – large altarpieces and small Madonnas – are almost always signed, often in Roman letters carved onto a fictive stone parapet.
Carlo’s younger brother Vittore Crivelli (died after 1501) also worked as a painter in Zara and the Marche in a very similar style. Both brothers were soon forgotten after their deaths, and Vasari fails even to mention them.
The Magdalen. Wood, 152 x 49.
The saint holds her usual box of ointment (a large Gothic tankard of gilded gesso). There is a smaller version (probably from a pilaster of a frame or from a predella) in the National Gallery, London. Signed (bottom left on the cartellino), and probably an independent picture rather than a panel from an altarpiece. It is possibly the altarpiece of Mary Magdalene by Crivelli recorded in 1667 in the church of San Francesco (now San Niccolò) in the small town of Carpegna (near Urbino). Acquired by the Kaiser Friederick Museum at Berlin in 1821 with the Solly collection. It disappeared during the Second World War, and was purchased by the Rijksmuseum in 1949 from an Amsterdam dealer.
*Madonna and Child. Wood, 21 x 16.
The Madonna is richly jewelled – even her halo is set with pearls and rubies. The Child holds a goldfinch on a string in his left hand, and an object that has been variously identified as the yolk of an egg, a nut or shellfish in the palm of his right hand. The tiny picture is almost perfectly preserved. It was previously kept in a cupboard in the sacristy of the church of San Francesco ad Alto at Ancona, and was transferred to the Pinacoteca in 1862.
Ascoli Piceno. Pinacoteca.
Triptych. Wood, 205 x 142 (including frame).
Much ruined, paint losses leaving large areas of bare wood exposed. The centre panel shows the Virgin and Child enthroned. The saints – Dominic (or Peter Martyr) and Giacomo della Marca – kneeling on the arms of the throne are on a smaller scale, while the donors kneeling at the base of the throne are much smaller still. St Peter the Apostle (identified by his keys) is depicted in the left-hand panel and St Sebastian (naked and pierced with arrows) in the right-hand one. God the Father, blessing and holding an orb, is represented in the triangular pediment. From the church of San Pietro in the village of San Vito at Valle Castellana (some 20 km south of Ascoli Piceno).
Triptych. Wood, 133 x 130.
Also gravely damaged, though the paint losses are less extensive. The centre panel shows the Virgin enthroned with her hands folded in prayer over the Child lying across her lap. The diminutive figure of St Lucy stands on the right of the throne, while two tiny donors kneel in the bottom right corner. A large apple rests in the centre foreground. St Anthony Abbot (with bell and tau-shaped staff) is depicted in the left-hand panel and St Sebastian (dressed as an aristocratic youth) in the right-hand one. Signed along the bottom of the centre panel. From the church of Santa Maria Assunta in San Vito at Valle Castellana.
The two triptychs are usually assumed to be roughly contemporary with the polyptych, dated 1473, in the Cathedral at Ascoli Piceno. However, Lightbown (2004) puts them later (mid to late 1480s).
Ascoli Piceno. Cathedral.
*Polyptych. Wood, 300 x 277.
This great altarpiece consists of ten compartments in two tiers, with a predella. Upper tier: in the centre, Pietà; right, half-lengths of St George (dressed not in armour but as a young nobleman) and St Ursula (with the standard of the Holy Cross); left, St Jerome and St Catherine. Lower tier: centre, Virgin and Child enthroned beneath the usual garland of fruit; right, full-lengths of St Paul and St Emidius (the founder of the church in Ascoli); left, St Peter and John the Baptist. The predella shows Christ as Salvator Mundi flanked by ten Apostles. Of the ten, Andrew (with cross), James the Great (with pilgrim's staff), Peter (with key), James the Less (with fuller's club) and Bartholomew (with knife) are clearly identifiable. The polyptych has never left the cathedral and is still in its original frame – one of only two altarpieces by Crivelli to have remained intact. It was doubtless intended originally for the high altar (though when first recorded in the 1640s it had already been shifted to the tribune behind the altar). Signed and dated 1473 (below the Madonna).
Ascoli Piceno. Museo Diocesano.
Virgin and Child Enthroned. Wood, 71 x 50.
The Virgin is seated on a throne of precious porphyry (porfido rosso antico). The pomegranate pattern on the damask cloth of honour is repeated, in gold, on her mantle. The Child, lying across her lap, holds an apple by its stalk. From the church of San Giovanni Battista at Poggio di Bretta, a hamlet near Ascoli. The central panel (cut down at the bottom) of an altarpiece, the rest of which is presumed lost. Thick repaint was removed in a 1961 restoration.
Avignon. Musée du Petit Palais.
Four Panels of Saints. Wood, each 51 x 15.
These four slender panels (representing SS. Catherine of Siena, Augustine, Nicholas of Bari and Lucy in Gothic frames) are from a series of twelve; the others are in Denver, Portland and Florence (Stibbert Museum). According to Zeri (1961), they came from the frame of a great altarpiece painted in 1488 for the high altar of Camerino Cathedral. The main surviving panels are in Milan (Brera) and Venice (Accademia). The Avignon panels are mostly the work of assistants. From the Campana collection (sold to the French State in 1862), and formerly in the museum at Lille.
Baltimore. Walters Art Gallery.
Virgin and Child with SS. Francis and Bernardino. Wood, 98 x 83.
The figures are viewed through a fictive window frame of coloured marble. On the parapet, the tiny kneeling figure of an Observant friar, who wears the grey habit and humble wooden clogs of his Order. (It has been suggested that the initials 'FBDA' under the figure might stand for Fra Bernardino da Ancona.) This small altarpiece was probably painted for a private chapel rather than a church. It is a comparatively late work, dated around 1488-89 by Lightbown (2004). Among the enormous collection of paintings and antiquities bought by the railway tycoon Henry Walters in 1902 from the Papal Almoner Don Marcello Massarenti.
Bergamo. Galleria Carrara.
Madonna and Child. Wood, 45 x 33.
As often with Crivelli’s Madonnas, the Child holds an apple (symbol of original sin and death). On the parapet, a carnation (symbol of love), a cucumber (symbol of the Resurrection) and a cherry (symbol of the blood of the Redeemer). The Virgin's crown is modelled in gilded stucco, and her robe is also worked in relief to resemble cloth of gold. This exceptionally well-preserved little panel may date from the early or mid-1480s. From the Lochis collection, which was bequeathed to the gallery in 1859. Restored in 2015.
*Virgin and Child with Saints. Wood, 191 x 196.
The infant Christ gives a great golden key to St Peter surrounded by local and Franciscan saints: to the right, Louis of Toulouse, Ansovino (ninth-century bishop and patron of Camerino) and Giacomo della Marca (with a reliquary of the Precious Blood); to the left, a bishop (Emidius or Cyprian?), Francis and Giovanni di Capistrano (who preached a crusade against the Turks). The main panel of an altarpiece painted for the little Franciscan church of San Pietro di Muralto at Camerino. Work on the altarpiece was underway by October 1488, when a bequest of 100 florins was made towards its cost. It was transferred to the convent of San Francesco as early as 1503, and was probably damaged during the earthquake that shook Camerino in 1799. It was sequestered for the Brera by the Napoleonic commissioners, but farmed out to a church in Lomardy in 1819. The main panel came to England, and in 1849 was sold by William Coningham for 920 gns. Finally bought by the Berlin Gallery in 1892 for the extremely high price of 7000 gns at the sale of Lord Dudley’s collection. A large Pietà in the Vatican possibly formed the lunette of the altarpiece.
St Bonaventura; St Bernard. Wood, each 52 x 25.
Probably side panels from the frame of the San Pietro di Muralto Altarpiece. Four other such panels of saints are in Maastricht, Rome (Palazzo Colonna) and Worcester (Mass.).
Boston. Museum of Fine Arts.
*Entombment (Pietà). Wood, 89 x 53.
The dead Christ is lowered into the tomb by an unusually middle-aged Virgin, an unusually adolescent Mary Magdalene and a distraught St John the Evangelist, who howls with grief. The strikingly realistic swag of fruit and vegetables contains apples, pears, cherries, hazelnuts, aubergines and a cucumber. The haloes and Mary Magdalene's sleeve are modelled in gesso, and the gold is richly patterned. One of the finest of Crivelli’s many versions of this subject. Signed and dated 1485, in gold, on the left of the parapet. From the Palazzo Panciatichi in Florence, where it was recorded in 1856. Its earlier provenance is unknown, but it was usual for such a Pietà to occupy the centre of the upper tier of a polyptych (which would account for the low viewpoint). Bought in 1901 by Edward Perry Warren, an American collector living in Europe, who sold it to the Boston museum the following year for £1,000.
Boston. Gardner Museum.
*St George and the Dragon. Wood, 90 x 46.
In the distance, on a path leading up to the hilltop citadel, the tiny figure of the princess prays for deliverance from the dragon. An early nineteenth-century source (Amico Ricci’s Memorie Storiche of 1834) describes an altarpiece by Crivelli, signed and dated 1470, in the church of San Giorgio at Porto San Giorgio, with the Virgin and Child in the centre, SS. Peter and Paul and St George on Horseback at the sides, and an Entombment above. The St George is the Boston picture and the SS. Peter and Paul a panel now in the National Gallery, London; the Virgin and Child is identified with a picture in Washington; and the Entombment is now in Detroit. Two small lunettes, which were located above the two side panels, are at Cracow and Tulsa. The altarpiece was still almost complete when it was acquired by Lord Dudley, who displayed it in the Egyptian Hall of his house in London. It was sold to Martin Colnaghi in 1876 and the panels dispersed. The St George was purchased by Mrs Gardner from Colnaghi in 1897. It was bought on the recommendation of Bernard Berenson, whose enthusiastic letter to Mrs Gardner described it as 'a gorgeous thing, more beautiful than any Japanese lacqueur, decorative as no other picture whatsoever, resplendent in its gold background, its gold armour and brocade'. It is now one of Crivelli’s best-known works. A restoration in 2015 – the first for eighty years – removed yellowed varnish and repaired a deep crack running down the bottom right of the panel. The paint is well preserved, but the delicate gold leaf has partly worn away and the silver leaf on St George's armour and sword has tarnished to a dark brown.
Brussels. Royal Museum.
Virgin and Child; Saint Francis. Two panels, 180 x 65 and 174 x 54.
The Virgin and Child was the central panel of a large polyptych painted, probably in the early 1470s, for the Franciscan convent church at Montefiore dell'Aso (near Fermo). The Virgin is represented as Queen of Heaven. Her Gothic gold crown is adorned with rubies, the border of her white veil is embroidered with gold eagles and her dark blue mantle is patterned with golden pomegranates.The sculptured step at the bottom gives Crivelli’s signature.
The Saint Francis was a side panel from the same polyptych. With hands marked by the nails of the Crucifixion, the saint opens the slit in his brown habit to reveal the spear wound in his side.
A Pietà in the London National Gallery occupied the centre of the upper tier of the polyptych. Eight panels of Christ and the Apostles, formerly in the Cornwall Legh collection and now dispersed among several American museums and Upton House in Oxfordshire, belonged to the predella. All these panels were sold by the friars in the 1850s to raise funds to restore their convent. By 1858, they were in the hands of Pietro Vallati, a Roman dealer, who sold the Virgin and Child and Saint Francis to the Brussels Gallery in 1862. The six panels left in Montefiore, formerly in the church of Santa Lucia, have been displayed since 2006 in a new museum (Polo Museale di San Francesco).
Budapest. Museum of Fine Arts.
Virgin and Child. Wood, 107 x 56.
As first proposed by Zeri (1961), this was probably the central panel of an altarpiece painted in the late 1470s for a side altar in the church of San Domenico at Ascoli Piceno. The four side panels (representing SS. Jerome, Michael, Lucy and Peter Martyr) were formerly mistakenly incorporated into the ‘Demidoff Altarpiece’, which came from the high altar of the same church; they are now displayed separately in the National Gallery, London. Bought by Prince Miklos Esterhazy by 1820, and acquired by the Hungarian Government with the Esterhazy collection in 1872.
Cambridge (Mass.). Fogg Art Museum.
The Dead Christ between the Virgin and St John (Pietà). Canvas (transferred from panel), 88 x 73.
The picture might appear to be in good condition, but it is actually half-ruined. An old restoration to remove repaint left little of the figure of the dead Christ remaining, and much of the picture was redone in the early twentieth century by the famous Milanese restorer Luigi Cavenaghi. First recorded at Macerata (the collection of the Marchese Augusto Caccialupi), and possibly originally part of the same altarpiece as the fragmentary Virgin and Child in the town museum. Later in collections at Rome (Reverend Robert Jenkins Nevin), Paris (Ercole Canessa) and New York (Arthur Sachs). Given to the Fogg Museum in 1924.
Saint Peter. Paper, 21 x 16.
This bold pen-and-wash drawing is the only work on paper attributed to Crivelli. The composition corresponds exactly with that of a small predella panel, now at Detroit. Formerly in the collection of the art historian Charles Loeser, who bequeathed his collection of prints and drawings to Harvard, his old university, in 1928.
Chicago. Art Institute.
*Crucifixion. Wood, 75 x 55.
The grieving Virgin and St John the Evangelist at the sides. Blood flows from Christ's wounds into the skull of Adam at the base of the cross. Jerusalem is depicted in the background as a local fortified village by the sea. Probably originally the central panel of the top tier of a polyptych. Usually judged a comparatively late work. Zeri (1961) sought to identify it with an altarpiece painted in 1487 for the parish church of Castel Trosino (near Ascoli). Once in the London collection of Alexander Barker (sold in 1874), and from 1883 in the collection of Joseph Spiridon at Rome. Acquired by the Art Institute at the Spiridon Sale in Berlin in 1929.
Cleveland. Museum of Art.
Saint Nicholas of Bari. Wood, 96 x 33.
The saint is identified by his traditional attribute of three gold balls, representing the three purses of gold that he gave to the poor nobleman who had no dowries for his daughters. A side panel from a small altarpiece painted in 1472 for the church of San Domenico at Fermo. Other panels from the altarpiece are in New York (Metropolitan and Brooklyn Museums). Acquired in 1952.
Corridonia (near Macerata). Museo Parrochiale.
Virgin and Child. Wood, 127 x 63.
The Virgin is shown in a mandorla of red seraphs and golden cherubs. From the sacristy of the church of Sant’Agostino at Corridonia (formerly known as Mont’Olmo and later as Pausola); transferred to the little museum in 1952. It was the centre of a triptych, which had lost its side panels by the eighteenth century. It probably dates from the early 1470s. Restoration has removed two large eighteenth-century angels from the upper corners.
Cracow. National Gallery.
St Anthony Abbot and St Lucy. Wood, 33 x 48.
St Anthony Abbot has his bell and tau-shaped staff; St Lucy has her martyr's palm and dish with her eyes. This small semi-circular lunette belonged to the polyptych painted in 1470 from the church of San Giorgio at Porto San Giorgio. It was probably located on the right-hand side, above the St George in the Gardner Museum at Boston. The matching lunette, from the left-hand side, is at Tulsa. Acquired by Prince Czartoryski in 1914.
Denver. Art Museum.
St Anthony Abbot; St Christopher; St Sebastian; St Thomas Aquinas. Wood, each, 51 x 15.
St Anthony Abbot with bell and tau-shaped staff; St Christopher wading across the river with the Christ Child on his shoulder; St Sebastian bound to a tree and pierced with arrows; and St Thomas Aquinas with book and model of a church. Above the standing figures are heads of red cherubim. Four of twelve narrow panels of full-length saints from the frame of the polyptych painted for the high altar of Camerino Cathedral. The other panels are in Avignon, Portland and Florence (Stibbert Museum).
Detroit. Institute of Arts.
*Lamentation (Pietà). Wood, 42 x 114.
The dead Christ is mourned by the Virgin Mary (who touches the wound in his side), John the Evangelist (standing behind), Mary Magdalene (who kisses his wounded hand) and the turbaned Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (who kneel in prayer). The crown of thorns is sculpted in gesso. The panel was the central lunette of the altarpiece painted in 1470 for the church of San Giorgio at Porto San Giorgio. It was flanked by two lunettes with saints (now at Cracow and Tulsa). The central panel was a Virgin and Child now at Washington. Formerly in the Barker, Dudley and Brocklebank collections; acquired by the Institute in 1927.
St Peter; An Evangelist. Wood, each 31 x 23.
St Peter holds keys and a book; the young Evangelist (John or Luke?) writes his Gospel. These two small arched panels originally belonged to the predella of a polyptych from the Franciscan convent at Montefiore (between Fermo and Ascoli). A study in pen on parchment of the St Peter (formerly in the Loeser collection and now in the Fogg Museum) is the only known drawing by Crivelli. The two panels were given to the Institute by E. M. Sterling. Six other surviving panels from the predella are distributed among other America museums and Upton House in Oxfordshire. The central panel is in Brussels.
El Paso (Texas). Museum of Art.
Christ Blessing. Wood, 30 x 26.
A panel from the centre of a predella, which also included the St John and St Bartholomew in the Castello Sforzesco at Milan and the St Peter in the Yale University Art Gallery at New Haven. The predella was associated by Zeri (1961) and Zampetti (1988) with the altarpiece of 1472 from San Domenico at Fermo (the central panel from which is now in New York) but by Lightbown (2004) with the triptych of 1482 from San Francesco at Force (the central panel from which is in the Vatican). From the collection of Cav. Marinucci of Rome; acquired by Kress in 1935.
Esztergom (Hungary). Keresztény Múzeum.
St Bernardino; St Anthony of Padua; St Dominic. Wood, each 28 x 22/25.
The Franciscan St Bernardino of Siena displays his monogram with the Holy Name of Jesus. St Anthony of Padua, also a Franciscan friar, holds a lily and studies a book of scripture. St Dominic, with a book and lily, appears to be preaching, appealing to heaven for inspiration. These three small panels belonged to the predella of the altarpiece painted for San Francesco at Fabriano. Other parts of the predella are in Rome (Castel Sant’Angelo Museum) and Paris (Jacquemart-André Museum), while the main panel and lunette are in the Brera.
Florence. Museo Stibbert.
St Catherine of Alexandria; St Dominic. Wood, each 51 x 15.
St Catherine with martyr's palm and spiked wheel; St Dominic as a friar of his Order studying scripture. Two panels from the frame of the polyptych painted for the high altar of Camerino Cathedral. Ten other such panels, which were executed mostly by assistants, are scattered among museums in Avignon, Denver and Portland. Acquired in 1887 from the antiquarian Augusto Riblet.
Annunciation. Two hexagonal panels, 56 x 39.
One panel shows the Virgin kneeling in her chamber before an open book. She is illuminated by the golden rays of the Holy Spirit entering through the window. The other panel shows the Angel, holding a lily, in the street outside. Some features of the composition are repeated in the famous Annunciation in the National Gallery, London. The two panels came from the top of the triptych painted in 1482 for San Domenico at Camerino. The triptych was some four metres high and the panels are designed in steep perspective to be viewed from below. Transferred with the main panels to the Brera in 1810-11, but sold to the dealer Filippo Benacci in 1832 and acquired by the Frankfurt Institute in the same year. A small heart-shaped panel of the Resurrection was a third pinnacle, located in the centre, between the two panels of the Annunciation. Once in the collection of the Earl of Northbrook, this is now with the Abegg-Stiftung Foundation at Riggisberg (Switzerland).
Honolulu. Academy of Arts.
St Andrew; an Evangelist. Wood, 30 x 22.
St Andrew is identified by the cross he is holding; the aged Evangelist could be St Mark. From the predella of the altarpiece from the convent of San Francesco at Montefiore. Acquired by Kress in 1935.
London. National Gallery.
*Dead Christ supported by Angels (no. 602). Wood, 73 x 56.
One of some ten surviving paintings of the Pietà by Crivelli. The influence of Donatello is seen particularly clearly in this beautiful (but damaged) example. The dead Christ, crowned with thorns, is supported by two child angels standing on the sides of the sarcophagus. His long, limp hands – one held by the wrist and the other resting on the front edge of the sarcophagus – are exquisitely drawn. A cloth of red watered silk is draped over the front of the tomb, which is of richly patterned marble. Signed (as though in letters carved into the stone) on the left-hand cornice. The picture is much restored: an area to the right, including part of Christ’s head and the profile of the angel, is entirely new. The panel was the centre of the upper tier of the polyptych from the convent church of San Francesco at Montefiore dell'Aso (near Fermo). Six other surviving panels from the altarpiece, which was broken up in the 1850s, are still in the town (Polo Museale di San Francesco), and two are at Brussels. Small panels at Williamstown, Detroit, Honolulu, New York and Upton House (Oxfordshire) came from the predella. Bought in Rome from the dealer Pietro Vallati in 1859. A restoration in 2000 removed discoloured nineteenth-century varnish and repaint.
*The Vision of the Blessèd Gabriele Ferretti. Wood, 141 x 87.
Beato Gabriele Ferretti (1385-1456) was a Franciscan theologian, preacher and visionary. From 1434, he was Vicar-General of the Observant friars of the Marche. The picture illustrates a vision in which the Virgin Mary appeared to him and placed the Christ Child in his arms. As usual, Crivelli has included a wealth of meticulous detail. Behind the kneeling Beato lie his wooden clogs, and a book is open on the ground in front of him. A goldfinch perches on the branch overhead. A duck swims with its chick In the little stream in the bottom left corner. A V-shaped skein of geese approaches in the evening sky. People stroll along the stony path leading to the Beato's small brick priory and cluster around the gateway of the distant walled city of Ancona. The panel was probably ordered by the Ferretti family to hang over the Beato Gabriele's tomb, constructed in 1489 in San Francesco ad Alto at Ancona. When described in 1753, the picture was hung with about 250 silver votive offerings. It seems to have been removed from the church in Napoleonic times, and was purchased by the National Gallery from Alexander Barker in 1861. A sixteenth-century copy of the picture is displayed next to the Beato Gabriele's marble sarcophagus in the Museo Diocesano at Ancona.
*‘Madonna della Rondine’ (no. 724).
A rare example of an altarpiece still complete in its original frame. Main panel (151 x 107): the Virgin and Child (who holds an apple) are enthroned between Saints Jerome and Sebastian (who, unusually, is not depicted naked but as an officer in Diocletian's bodyguard). The swallow (rondine) perched on the Virgin's throne symbolises the Resurrection (because it was thought that swallows hibernated in the mud in the winter). The predella scenes are: St Catherine of Alexandria; St Jerome doing Penance; a Nativity (at night); the Martyrdom of St Sebastian; and St George and the Dragon. The small panels are rich in minute detail. In the background of the St George scene, the princess kneels on an outcrop of rock to pray for deliverance from the dragon, and tiny figures of the king and queen watch the drama from a balcony on the city gate. In the St Jerome scene, the wildlife includes a vulture (perched on the crucifix), snake, scorpion, stork, rabbits, wild ass and dragon.
The altarpiece was commisioned on 11 March 1491 by Ranuccio Ottoni (whose escutcheon with the black imperial eagle is on the face of the platform) for the church of the Minori Osservanti (San Francesco dei Zoccolanti) at Matelica, a town halfway between Fabriano and Camerino, where the Ottoni were the ruling family. The price was 310 florins. The altarpiece stood against the left sidewall of the Ottoni Chapel (the fourth chapel on the right of the nave). It remained in situ until 1862, when it was removed from the church by Count Luigi de Sanctis of Matelica, who sold it to the National Gallery for £2,182. Both the painting and the frame were restored in 1989. The frame has been regilded, probably in the nineteenth century, but the painting is reported to be 'in very good condition'. A deep crack (no longer visible) running vertically through the central predella panel was caused by an old nail used to attach the predella to the frame.
**Annunciation. Canvas (transferred from panel), 207 x 147.
With ingenious perspective, Crivelli has combined a scene of the interior of the Virgin's rich Renaissance house with a view along the narrow street outside. The geometry of one-point perspective has not been slavishly adhered to, and the background figures are disproportionately tall. Packed with fascinating detail, the picture is probably Crivelli's most famous work. The colourful townscape depicted, with its profusion of Renaissance decoration and opulent use of marble (even the street is paved with Rosso Verona), is clearly fanciful rather than a representation of an actual place.
In 1482 Pope Sixtus IV issued a Bull conferring on the citizens of Ascoli Libertas Ecclesiastica (‘Independence under the Church’ – a measure of political autonomy). These words are inscribed on the bottom of the picture, which was painted in 1486 to commemorate the event. It hung in the church of Santissima Annunziata, to which a procession celebrating the event made its way every year on 25 March (the Feast of the Annunciation). St Emidius, patron saint of Ascoli, holds a model of the church. The arms of the city are shown bottom right; the arms of Pope Innocent VIII are in the centre; and those of Prospero Caffarelli, Bishop of Ascoli, are on the right.
The picture was removed to the Brera in 1811, but passed, by exchange, into the hands of the French art collector and dealer Count Auguste-Louis de Sivry in 1820. It was acquired in 1847 by Lord Taunton, who presented it to the National Gallery in 1864. The picture must have seemed in a poor state in 1881, when the paint layer was transferred from the original panel to a new canvas support. The faces of St Emidius and the Virgin are damaged, but in general the picture appears to be in surprisingly good condition for a transferred work.
*San Domenico High Altarpiece (nos 788.1-788.9).
Lower tier: Virgin and Child (149 x 64), signed and dated 1476; John the Baptist, St Peter, St Catherine of Alexandria and St Dominic (each 138 x 40). Upper tier: St Francis, St Andrew, St Stephen and Thomas Aquinas (each 61 x 48). Several panels are remarkable for their use of raised gesso decoration. The elaborate Gothic frame (modelled on that of Crivelli’s altarpiece in Ascoli Cathedral) dates only from the 1850s. The panels belonged to a polyptych on the high altar of San Domenico at Ascoli Piceno. (The St Dominic is almost certainly a portrait of the Blessed Costanzo Servoli da Fabriano, Prior of San Domenico.) The polyptych also contained a lunette-shaped Lamentation (identified with a picture now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York) above the Virgin and Child, in the space now occupied by the projecting canopy, and probably a predella. It was removed from the high altar in 1764, when the church was rebuilt. From 1852 to 1866 the nine panels and four from a different altarpiece in the same church were owned by Prince Anatole Demidoff, who had all thirteen panels framed together as the altarpiece of the chapel of his villa, near Florence. The resulting composite (the ‘Demidoff Altarpiece’) was purchased by the National Gallery from G. H. Phillips, Paris, in 1868 for 3,200 gns.
*Four Panels of an Altarpiece (nos 788.10-788.13).
These represent St Jerome (holding a model of a church), St Michael (a man and a woman in his scales), St Lucy (holding a plate with her eyes) and St Peter Martyr (a knife in his skull). They were acquired by the National Gallery in 1868 as part of the ‘Demidoff Altarpiece’. They did not belong to the high altarpiece of San Domenico at Ascoli but are thought to have formed the side panels of a much smaller altarpiece from a side chapel in the same church. The central panel of the Virgin and Child is in Budapest. They are very similar in style to the panels from the main altarpiece and may also date from about 1476.
*Madonna and Child with St Francis and St Sebastian (no. 807). Wood, 175 x 151.
The Virgin Mary is crowned and enthroned as Queen of Heaven. St Sebastian is bound to a pillar and pierced with arrows. St Francis presents a diminutive kneeling female donor, dressed as a nun. She is Oradea, widow of Giovanni Becchetti, who founded, in accordance with her husband’s will, an altar dedicated to Santa Maria della Consolazione in San Francesco at Fabriano. The inscription refers to the considerable expense incurred in ordering the picture. The picture is dated 1491. It is rich in Christian symbols. The apples and cucumber – resting on or hanging from the pediment of the throne – symbolise Death and Resurrection. The flowers at the sides of the throne – white lilies and pink carnations in the gold vase and white and red roses in the glass – are those commonly associated with the Virgin Mary and with Christ's Passion. The snail by St Francis's foot might symbolise the Immaculate Conception. (Snails were supposedly asexual and made pregnant by the dew from heaven.) The picture was bought in Rome by the Marquis of Westminster in 1841 and presented to the National Gallery by his widow in 1870.
St Catherine of Alexandria; St Mary Magdalene. Two panels, each 38 x 19.
The saints are shown standing in niches, Catherine with her wheel and martyr's palm and Mary Magdalene with her jar of ointment. Mary Magdalene is similar to the large painting of the same figure in Amsterdam. Presumably from the frame or predella of an altarpiece (possibly that painted for Oradea Becchetti in 1491). Sometimes ascribed to Crivelli's workshop. Purchased at the sale of Alexander Barker’s collection in 1874.
The Immaculate Conception. Wood, 195 x 94.
The Holy Spirit, in the form of a tiny white dove, descends from God the Father to exempt the Virgin from Original Sin. Two angels hold a scroll with the inscription in Latin: ‘As I was conceived in the mind of God from the beginning, so was I also made’. (The inscription, while not a direct quotation, draws on biblical texts, particularly Proverbs 8: 22-23.) The roses in the majolica jug and the lily in the glass vase are emblems of the Virgin, as are the sun and moon incised in the gold background by her head. Signed and dated 1492, and one of the earliest pictures of this subject. (The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was approved by the Franciscan Pope Sixtus IV in 1475, but the subject did not become at all common in art until the end of the sixteenth century.) From the convent of San Francesco at Pergola, a small town 30 km north of Fabriano. As a tall vertical panel, it was presumably painted for a side chapel rather than the high altar. Sold by 1834, and bought by the National Gallery in 1874 at the sale of Alexander Barker’s collection.
Saints Peter and Paul (no. 3923). Wood, 93 x 47.
St Peter draws St Paul's attention to a passage in scripture. St Peter's keys and the handle and hilt of St Paul's sword are modelled in gesso and covered in silver and gold foil. This panel belonged to the altarpiece described by Ricci (1834) in the church of San Giorgio at Porto San Giorgio, located on the left side of the Virgin and Child at Washington. By 1882 it was in the collection of F. R. Leyland of Liverpool and London (which also included the Boston St George, the other side panel); it was bought by Ludwig Mond in 1892 and bequeathed by him to the National Gallery in 1924.
London. Victoria and Albert Museum.
*Virgin and Child. Wood, 49 x 34.
The Virgin’s mantle is of gilded stucco. On the top of the cracked stone ledge in front are a carnation, symbolising the Incarnation, and violets, symbolising the Virgin. The apple held by the Child is the familiar symbol of His Passion, while the leafless tree in the background to the right may symbolise His death and the vine climbing through it the Crucifixion. Generally dated about 1480 or a little later, it is one of Crivelli’s finest small Madonnas. The meticulous, enamelled finish is almost like goldsmiths' work. Bequeathed to the V & A in 1882 with the collection (mainly French rococco) of John Jones. It is not known when or how Mr Jones (a regimental tailor living in Piccadilly) acquired the painting. The ornate Renaissance-style frame is brand new (2014). Another version of the painting, with the same figure poses but different costumes and background, was formerly in the Fermor-Hesketh collection at Towcester (sold at Christie's in 1988 and at Sotheby's in 2008).
London. Wallace Collection.
Saint Roch. Wood, 44 x 13.
The thin, bony saint, dressed as a pilgrim, is identified as Roch by the plague sore on his bare thigh. The narrow panel presumably decorated the pilaster of a frame. A St Sebastian (of similar dimensions but with a landscape background) in the Poldi Pezzoli Museum, Milan, probably belonged to the same altarpiece. The St Roch was once owned by the Barberini family (whose arms are on the back).
St Dominic; St Anthony of Padua. Wood, 59 x 31.
Both saints stand on a marble step and hold a lily and book; Dominic wears his black habit and is shown against a curtain of green watered silk; and Anthony wears a brown Franciscan habit and is shown against a vermillion curtain. From a series of six small panels of saints. Two of the others are in Berlin, one is in Rome (Palazzo Colonna) and one in Worcester (Mass.). They probably belonged to the altarpiece painted in 1488 for San Pietro di Muralto at Camerino, the main panel of which is now in Berlin.
Virgin and Child. Canvas (transferred from panel), 59 x 40.
A fragment (the Virgin was probably originally shown standing) of the central panel of an altarpiece. The altarpiece was recorded (with an attribution to Perugino) in 1596 in the Franciscan convent of Santa Croce at Macerata. The convent was destroyed by fire in 1799 when the French bombarded the town. An inscription on the back gives a date of 1470, but the picture is probably considerably later than this.
Massa Fermana (13 km north of Fermo). Parish Church (San Silvestro).
*Polyptych. Centre panel, 105 x 44; side panels, 105 x 34.
In the centre, the Virgin and Child; left, John the Baptist and St Lawrence; right, St Sylvester and St Francis. All five panels, originally pointed, have been cut down at the top. The upper panels show a Pietà, in the centre, and an Annunciation, the Virgin kneeling at a desk on the left and the Angel Gabriel holding a lily on the right. The predella shows four scenes (19 x 47) from the Passion: the Agony in the Garden (derived from the scene in the predella of Mantegna’s San Zeno Altarpiece); the Crucifixion; the Flagellation; and the Resurrection (much damaged). Signed at the bottom of the centre panel and dated 1468. It is Crivelli’s earliest dated work and his earliest surviving work in the Marche. Painted for the high altar of San Silvestro (rebuilt in the nineteenth century). It was commissioned by Troilo Azzolino, a nobleman who had inherited the rights (giuspatronato) to the little church through his wife, Luisa, heiress of the Counts of Brunforte. The British collector Alexander Barker tried unsuccessfully to buy it in about 1860. The picture has recently been on deposit at the Palazzo Ducale at Urbino.
*‘Madonna della Candeletta’. Wood, 218 x 75.
The Virgin is seated on a marble throne under a bower of fruit and leaves. The Child holds a pear. The famous picture takes its name from the slender wax candle (candeletta) that burns before the throne. The lilies and red and white roses in the jug are symbols of the Virgin. The red cherries, lying on the step with a single white rose, symbolise Christ's blood shed on the cross. The picture was the central panel of an altarpiece commissioned on 10 May 1488 for the high altar of the cathedral at Camerino. Two side panels, each with a pair of of saints, are in the Accademia, Venice. Twelve narrow panels of saints (most by assistants) have also been linked with the altarpiece. Now dispersed among museums in Avignon, Denver, Portland and Florence (Museo Stibbert), they are thought to have come from the frame. The title Eques Auratus in the signature on the Brera panel indicates that the altarpiece was completed after Crivelli’s knighthood in 1489-90. After Camerino Cathedral was destroyed by an earthquake in 1799, the panel was moved, along with other works of art, to the church of San Domenico, whence it was taken to the Brera in 1811. The picture is somewhat worn and retouched. There were major restorations in 1822 (when the panel was trimmed at the sides, the paint surface probably harshly cleaned and the background probably regilded), the early 1950s (when the panel was flattened to correct warpage) and 1986 (when discoloured varnish and some old retouchings were removed).
*Crucifixion. Wood, 218 x 75.
Christ on the Cross between the Virgin (or Magdalen) and St John the Evangelist. At the foot of the cross lies the skull of Adam. The octagonal building within the city walls of Jerusalem probably represents the church of the Holy Sepulchre. The panel came from Camerino Cathedral and was long assumed to have belonged to the same altarpiece as the Madonna della Candeletta. It has been conjectured that the Crucifixion formed a pinnacle surmounting the central panel (making the altarpiece about 15 feet high). Doubt has been recently cast on this reconstruction, however. The two panels are now identical in size, but – according to an inventory drawn up when they entered the Brera – the Madonna della Candeletta was originally some eight inches wider than the Crucifixion. Moreover, the Crucifixion has a landscape, whereas the Madonna della Candeletta and other panels linked with the altarpiece have gold grounds. (The gold in the upper part of the Crucifixion is the result of an old restoration.)
*Coronation of the Virgin. Wood, 225 x 255.
The main panel of the high altarpiece of the church of San Francesco at Fabriano. The altarpiece was commissioned in January 1490 and is signed and dated 1493. It is Crivelli’s last documented work. The price – 250 ducats (plus lodgings and 6 salme of wheat, 12 salme of wine and 2 salme of firewood) – was extremely high. The saints are Francis, Bonaventura (in a mitre and a cardinal’s scarlet robe) and Sebastian (dressed as a knight and holding an arrow) on the right, and John the Baptist, Catherine of Alexandria and Venanzo (patron of Fabriano, holding a banner with the colours of the city) on the left. After the convent was suppressed in Napoleonic times, the altarpiece come into the possession of a Signore Ramelli of Fabriano. The main panel and lunette were later acquired by Cav. Pietro Oggioni of Milan, who left them to the Brera in 1855.
*Pietà. Wood, 128 x 241.
On the ledge of the tomb, there is an open book, ink well, quill pen, spectacle case and burning candle in a golden candlestick to the left of St John, and a jar of ointment to the right of the Magdalen. The lunette of the Coronation of the Virgin. The altarpiece had a predella, which was retained by Signore Ramelli when the main panel and lunette were sold. The panels from this are now scattered among museums in Paris, Rome and Hungary.
*Virgin and Child with Four Saints ('San Domenico Triptych'). Wood.
Centre panel (190 x 78): Virgin and Child (who holds a goldfinch); right panel (170 x 60): St Venanzo (patron saint of Camerino, who holds a flag and model of his city) and Peter Martyr (with a knife in his head and dagger in his heart); left panel (170 x 60): St Peter (holding a book and keys) and Dominic (with book and lily). Signed and dated 1482 on the dais beneath the Virgin's throne. The main panels of the high altarpiece of San Domenico at Camerino. Taken to the Brera in 1810-11. Originally a Gothic polyptych with pinnacles and predella, the altarpiece was dismantled by 1822 and the three main panels were reframed in 1824 as a Renaissance-style triptych. The nineteenth-century frame was replaced in 1951 by a simple passe-partout structure. A restoration in 2007 recovered much of the original gold, which had been hidden under nineteenth-century regilding.
Two Predella Panels. Wood, each 25 x 62.
The two panels each show three saints (Anthony Abbot, Jerome and Andrew on one; James the Great, Bernardino and (?) the Beato Ugolino on the other). They accompanied the San Domenico Triptych from Camerino to the Brera and are assumed to have formed part of its predella. Three small panels of the Annunciation and Resurrection that surmounted the altarpiece were sold by the Brera in 1832 and are now in Frankfurt and Riggisberg (Abegg-Stiftung Foundation).
Milan. Poldi Pezzoli.
Saint Sebastian. Wood, 49 x 17.
This graceful Mantegnesque figure probably came from the right-hand pilaster of a painted frame. A panel of St Roch in the Wallace Collection, London, of similar size but without the landscape background, probably belonged to the same altarpiece. (The two saints were often paired as protection against the plague.) The St Sebastian was among the pictures bequeathed to the city of MiIan by the museum's founder, Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli, in 1879.
Christ and St Francis. Wood, 20 x 16.
Christ, bearing the Cross, appears to Francis, who kneels before him and catches in a chalice blood from the wound in his side. There are instruments of the Passion (crown of thorns, nails and scourge) on the arms of the cross and others (lance, rope and sponge soaked in vinegar) on the porphyry column on the left. The original purpose and location of this strange little panel is unknown. In the version of this mystic subject by Giovanni Bellini (National Gallery, London), an angel takes the place of St Francis. Probably a late work; and certainly no earlier than 1490, because the signature (lower right) includes the title 'miles'. Also part of the original 1879 Poldi Pezzoli bequest.
Milan. Castello Sforzesco.
St John the Evangelist; St Bartholomew. Wood, 28 x 21.
Two panels from a predella with half-length figures of Christ and the Apostles. The Christ is in El Paso. Another of the surviving Apostles (Saint Peter) is in the Yale University Gallery at New Haven, and two more (Saint Andrew and an Evangelist) are in private collections. (The Evangelist was sold at Christie's, New York, in January 2001 for $171,000.) Formerly in the Castelbarco collection; given to the museum by Dott. Giuseppe Levis.
Montefiore dell’Aso (25 km northeast of Ascoli Piceno). Polo Museale di San Francesco.
These panels – now framed into a triptych – originally belonged to a grandiose altarpiece from the convent church of San Francesco at Montefiore. The full-length figures of St Catherine of Alexandria, St Peter and Mary Magdalene (each 174 x 54) belonged to the main tier. The half-length figures of Duns Scotus, St Clare and St Louis of Toulouse (each 74 x 54) belonged to the upper tier. The panels retain elements of the original frame. The rest of the altarpiece was sold by the Franciscan friars in the early 1850s to the Roman dealer Pietro Vallati, and these panels are now widely dispersed among museums in Brussels (Virgin and Child Enthroned and St Francis), London (Pietà), North America (predella panels at Detroit, Honolulu, New York and Williamstown) and Upton House in Oxfordshire (another predella panel). One of the panels of half-length saints from the upper tier and at least three of the predella panels have disappeared. The altarpiece, which is undocumented, may date from the early or mid-1470s. It was only in 1952 that the six panels remaining at Montefiore were recognised (by Pietro Zampetti) as coming from same altarpiece as the panels at Brussels and London, and only in 1961 that the predella panels were added to the reconstruction. Earlier writers (including Bernard Berenson) had often doubted whether the Montefiore panels were by Crivelli himself. Transferred in 2006 from the church of Santa Lucia to a Sala Crivelli on the second floor of the San Francesco convent.
Monte San Martino (25 km south-west of Fermo). San Martino Vescovo.
Polyptych. Wood, 285 x 227.
The polyptych, which retains its canopied and pinnacled late Gothic frame, comprises two tiers of five panels each and a predella. It is said to have been painted for the church of San MIchele Arcangelo (now destroyed) but was already in the parish church of San Martino by 1796. It is described in Amico Ricci's 1834 Memorie Storiche as a work of Vittore Crivelli, who painted two other altarpieces that still survive in Monte San Martino. However, there is now general agreement that the altarpiece was painted partly by Carlo Crivelli. Carlo was responsible for six panels: the four panels of three-quarter length saints (John the Evangelist, Martin, James and Catherine) in the upper tier and the two panels of full-length saints (NIcholas of Bari and MIchael) on the left of the lower tier. The rest of the altarpiece (including the central panel of the Madonna and Child) was painted by the greatly inferior Vittore. There is no consensus on dating: suggestions have ranged from the late 1470s to early 1490s.
Montreal. Museum of Fine Art.
Last Supper. Wood, 27 x 75.
Christ, in the centre, appears to direct his gaze at his betrayer Judas. Several disciples are eating cucumbers – a vegetable frequently found in Crivelli's paintings. Clearly the central panel of a predella. The predella was possibly that to the triptych painted in 1482 for the church of San Domenico at Camerino. (The three main panels of the triptych, and two of the predella panels, are now in the Brera.) The Last Supper is first recorded in 1849 at a London sale. Bought for £30 by Colonel Godfrey Rhodes in 1864, it passed by inheritance to Catherine Rhodes Tudor-Hart of Quebec, who bequeathed it to the Montreal museum in 1972. The execution is sometimes ascribed to Crivelli's workshop.
New Haven (Yale University Art Gallery).
Saint Peter. Wood, 28 x 21.
The brawny saint holds a Gospel and a great gold key. From a predella, which also included the Christ Blessing at El Paso and the St Bartholomew and St John the Evangelist at Milan (Castello Sforzesco). Like the Christ Blessing, it was formerly in the collection of Cav. Marinucci of Rome; given to Yale in 1959 by Hannah and Louis Rabinowitz of Long Island.
New York. Metropolitan Museum.
*Madonna and Child. Wood, 35 x 23.
The Child, seated on a marble parapet, holds a goldfinch, symbol of the Passion. A fly, symbolising evil, perches on the left. In the garland of fruit hanging behind the Virgin, the apple represents death or original sin, while the cucumber refers to Jonah’s gourd, a symbol of the Resurrection. The haloes are studded with gemstones (cabochons). In the background, tiny turbaned figures stroll along tree-lined pathways. Signed on a cartellino attached to the cloth of yellow silk draped over the parapet. This tiny, minutely finished panel is almost perfectly preserved. It may date from around 1480. It was sold by William Jones, a Welsh landowner, for £150 at Christie’s in 1852. Later owners included Lord Northbrook and Jules Bache, who bequeathed his pictures to the Metropolitan Museum in 1949. The present pseudo-Gothic frame was made in 1927 by Duveen's Italian framemaker, Ferruccio Vannoni. The original frame might have been Renaissance in style.
*Virgin and Child Enthroned (‘Linsky Madonna’). Wood, 94 x 42.
The Child, standing on the Virgin's knees, stretches out both arms; he might be reaching towards the saint in a side panel or towards a flying goldfinch, symbolising the Passion. The gold ground is richly tooled. The top, originally arched, has been cut down. Two pears (symbolising Mary as the second Eve) and a fly (symbolising evil) lie on the cracked marble step of the throne; on its face, Crivelli’s signature and the date 1472. The central panel from a small polyptych from the church of San Domenico in Fermo. Four other panels survive: the St Dominic and St George also in the Metropolitan Museum; St James in Brooklyn; and St Nicholas of Bari in Cleveland. The five panels were bought from the Dominican friars in 1827-28 for 30 scudi and sold in Rome. They were all in the vast collection of Cardinal Fesch at Rome and later that of Walter Bromley-Davenport in England. The Virgin and Child passed through other English collections (Morland, Graham and Benson) and the Erickson collection in New York; finally, bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum in 1982 by Jack and Belle Linsky. The panel is much damaged. The right side of the Virgin's face and the right side of the gold background are largely restoration, and the paint surface is generally abraded.
Saint Dominic; Saint George. Two panels, each 94 x 30.
From the polyptych painted in 1472 for San Domenico at Fermo. St Dominic, wearing the black and white habit of his order of friars and holding a lily and book, must have been on the right of the central panel of the Virgin and Child (also now in the Metropolitan Museum). He looks down on the Child, who turns towards him. St George has fantastic gilded armour, with lion heads on the shoulder pieces and double roses on the breastplate. The two panels, formerly in the collections of Cardinal Fesch, W. D. Bromley and Lady Ashburton, were acquired by the museum in 1924.
*Pietà. Wood, 72 x 65.
The dead Christ is supported in the tomb by the Virgin, whose arms are about his neck, the Magdalen and St John (behind). The panel is thought to have come from the centre of the upper tier of the altarpiece painted in 1476 for the high altar of San Domenico at Ascoli Piceno. Nine other panels are in the National Gallery, London. The Pietà was probably removed from the church by one of the Barberini family (whose emblem, a bee, adorns the corners of the seventeenth-century frame). It was later in the collection of Conte Guido de Bisenzo at Rome (as Mantegna) and the Dudley and Crawshay collections in England. Acquired by the Metropolitan Museum in 1913.
An Apostle. Wood, 32 x 23.
The apostle – who holds a scroll with a sentence from the creed with one hand and points towards heaven with the other – could be St Barnabas. From the predella of the altarpiece painted for the convent of San Francesco at Montefiore. Acquired by the New York investment banker Philip Lehman when the Cornwall Legh collection (which contained eight of the predella panels) was sold in 1926.
Virgin and Child Enthroned ('Lehman Madonna'). Wood, 141 x 59.
Largely repainted. The unsigned and undocumented picture, evidently the central panel of a polyptych, was published as a work of Crivelli by Roger Fry in an article in the March 1913 Burlington Magazine. It had been acquired by Philip Lehman a few months previously from Duveen, and had formerly belonged to Baron Michele Lazzaroni – a Roman collector and dealer with a reputation for extensively restoring the works of art that passed through his hands. The picture continued to be accepted as a genuine early work of Crivelli after 1969, when the Lehman collection was bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum. Doubts were registered in 1987 by John Pope-Hennessy, who in his catalogue of the Lehman collection described the picture's condition as 'deplorable' and suggested that the panel could be a ruined work of another Marchigian painter – Nicola di Maestro Antonio d'Ancona – that had been restored to look like a Crivelli. The Crivelli attribution was still accepted unreservedly by Lightbown in his 2004 monograph. But in 2008 Matteo Mazzalupi (Pittori ad Ancona nel Quattrocento) published a firm attribution to Nicola di Maestro Antonio, and the new attribution has now been adopted by the Metropolitan Museum.
New York. Brooklyn Museum.
Saint James the Great. Wood, 96 x 28.
The saint is represented as a pilgrim, barefoot with a staff, badges on his broad hat and a scallop shell on his robe. From the altarpiece painted in 1472 for the church of San Domenico at Fermo. As the saint turns to the left, the panel was presumably on the left of the central panel of the Virgin and Child (now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York). Once in the possession of Charles Fairfax Murray, the artist and dealer, and later the collection of Sir C. A. Taylor. In the Brooklyn Museum since the 1960s, when it was loaned by Mrs Frank K. Sanders.
Norfolk (Virginia). Chrysler Museum of Art.
Saint Anthony of Padua. Wood, 152 x 50.
The Franciscan saint stands in front of a cloth of honour of watered silk, his hands folded in prayer and a lily and book tucked under his arm. Presumably a panel from the right-hand side of a polyptych. Nothing is known of the early provenance of the panel, which is first recorded with the dealer Contini Bonacossi and was donated to the museum by Walter P. Chrysler in 1983.
Oxford. Ashmolean Museum.
Saint John the Baptist. Wood, 73 x 35.
A very damaged fragment, cut down at the bottom. It may have belonged to an altarpiece painted in 1487 for the church of San Lorenzo in Castel San Pietro (or Castel Trosino), near Ascoli, which is known to have incorporated a panel of the Baptist. Federico Zeri (Arte Antica e Moderna (1961)) identified three other panels as having come from the same polyptych: a Bishop Saint (now in Tokyo), another Bishop Saint (in Utrecht) and a St Lawrence (formerly in the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection). The Oxford panel was presented to the museum in 1903 by Henry Pfungst, a London wine merchant and connoisseur.
San Giacomo della Marca. Wood, 195 x 61.
San Giacomo della Marca (1394-1476) was an itinerant Franciscan preacher from Monteprandone (near Ascoli). A follower of St Bernardino, he preached devotion to the Holy Name, and is shown pointing to a tablet with the sacred monogram. Two tiny donors (probably father and son) kneel at his feet. The tall narrow panel was an independent picture and never formed part of a composite altarpiece. Signed and dated 1477, it must have been commissioned shortly after Giacomo’s death on 28 November 1476. First recorded in 1724 in the church of the Annunziata at Ascoli. Sold in 1825, and afterwards in the collections of d’Agincourt and Cardinal Fesch. Acquired with the Campana collection in 1862. The picture has lost much of its colour (for example, the cream cloth of honour was originally pink).
Paris. Musée Jacquemart-André.
Two Predella Panels. Wood, each 28 x 76.
Each panel shows three half-length figures of saints in window niches: Louis of Toulouse, Jerome and Peter in one; Paul, Augustine (or John Chrysostom) and Romuald (or Basil) in the other. From the predella of the altarpiece painted for San Francesco at Fabriano, the main panels of which are now in the Brera. Other parts of the predella are in Esztergem (Hungary) and Rome (Sant’Angelo Museum). The two panels were formerly in the famous collection of Alexander Barker of London, who owned many works by Crivelli.
Philadelphia. Museum of Art (J. G. Johnson Collection).
Pietà. Wood, 68 x 46.
The dead Christ is supported in a marble sarcophagus by two weeping Donatellesque angels. (The cloth of honour, tooled in gold with a damask pattern, is a modern addition.) Probably from the middle of the upper tier of an altarpiece; the pointed top suggests that it was inserted into a Gothic frame. Usually judged comparatively early (about 1470). Its provenance is unknown: Johnson owned the picture in 1902.
Portland (Oregon). Art Museum.
Saint Francis; The Beato Ugolino (?). Wood, each 51 x 15.
The turbaned figure was formerly called Nicodemus, and has also been identified as the Beato Andrea Gallerani of Siena. From a series of twelve slender panels of saints that originally decorated the frame of the high altarpiece of Camerino Cathedral. The other ten are distributed between museums in Avignon, Denver and Florence (Museo Stibbert). The Portland panels were formerly in the collection of Grégoire Stroganoff in Rome and were acquired by Samuel H. Kress in 1930.
Riggisberg (near Berne in Switzerland). Abegg-Stiftung Foundation.
Resurrection. Wood, 50 x 70.
This little heart-shaped panel was the central pinnacle of a triptych painted in 1482 for the church of San Dominico at Camerino. The two side pinnacles, representing the Annunciation, are at Frankfurt, while the three main panels are in the Brera. The Resurrection was formerly in the London collection of Lord Northbrook. Acquired by Werner Abegg, the Swiss textile manufacturer and collector, around 1953.
Rome. Vatican Pinacoteca.
Madonna and Child. Wood, 135 x 62.
The Virgin, enthroned as Queen of Heaven, wears a sumptuous mantle of gold brocade with a bold pomegranate pattern. An apple, a pear and plums hang from the intertwined branches above her head. The Child, standing on her lap, holds an apple by a twig. On the step kneels the tiny figure of a praying Franciscan friar, who was presumably the donor. Signed and dated 1482 in Roman capitals carved into the face of the cracked marble step. From the convent of San Francesco at Force (a town under the jurisdiction of Ascoli Piceno). It was probably the centre of a triptych, the side panels of which are lost. Placed in the Latern Pinacoteca in 1844. The frame is modern. Restored in 2019.
Pietà. Wood, 105 x 205.
The dead Christ, seated almost in profile on the edge of the tomb, is mourned by Mary Magdalene (holding his right hand and arm), the Virgin Mary (resting her brow against his head crowned with thorns) and John the Evangelist (holding Christ's left arm and seeming to point with his index finger at the nail wound in Christ's hand). The grief-stricken faces are lined with tears. The background is formed by winged cherub heads rendered in gold leaf. The panel is clearly a lunette from a large altarpiece. The altarpiece is possibly that painted in 1488 for the Franciscan church of San Pietro di Muralto at Camerino, the main panel of which is now in Berlin. The Pietà is probably the Christo Morto bought in Camerino in 1827-28 by Ignazio Cantalmassa for 53 scudi and sold in Rome for 70 scudi. It was acquired by the Governo Pontifico in 1831 and placed in the Vatican Pinacoteca in 1838. Restored in 2011.
Polyptych: Madonna and Child with Saints. Wood, 90 x 150.
The Child holds a goldfinch on a string. The object in his left hand resembles an open walnut. The four saints are: John the Evangelist; Gregory the Great (or Sylvester); John the Baptist; and Jerome (or an Evangelist). Dated 31 July 1481 (beneath the centre panel). The polyptych has been at Rome since the mid-nineteenth century. It was formerly believed to have come from the church of Sant'Agostino at Grottammare, but it has been more recently linked with the church of San Gregorio Magno at Ascoli Piceno. The execution has been usually ascribed to an assistant of Carlo Crivelli (Vittore Crivelli or Pietro Alemanno). However, since the removal of overpaint in a recent restoration, the polyptych has been exhibited as a work of 'Carlo Crivelli and assistants'.
Rome. Museo di Castel Sant’Angelo.
Saint Onofrio; Christ Blessing. Wood, 28 x 25.
The desert hermit St Onofrio (Onuphrius) is traditionally depicted as a wild man, covered with hair and wearing a loincloth of leaves. Two panels from the predella of the altarpiece from San Francesco at Fabriano. The Christ was presumably in the centre. The main panel and lunette of the altarpiece are in the Brera. Bequeathed by Mario Menotti of Rome.
Rome. Palazzo Colonna.
Saint Augustine. Wood, 57 x 31.
One of a series of six small panels of saints; two of the others are in Berlin, two in Maastricht and one in Worcester (Mass.). They probably come from the frame of the altarpiece painted in 1488 for San Pietro di Muralto at Camerino. The St Augustine retains its original frame with a Gothic canopy and twisted columns.
San Diego. Museum of Art.
*Madonna. Wood, 62 x 40.
The Virgin wraps the Christ Child protectively in her white veil, as he nestles against her and tugs at the neck of her dress. The apple and pear, hanging in the upper corners, are constantly recurring symbols in Crivelli. A pomegranate pattern is both embroidered on the red cloth of honour and stamped on the gold background. Signed on the parapet (which, unusually for Crivelli, is wood rather than stone). The trompe-l'oeil letter attached to the front of the parapet bears a seal stamped with the coat-of-arms of the unidentified patron. This tenderly naturalistic and melancholy Madonna is often judged a very early work, painted in the 1450s before Crivelli’s departure for the Marche; but it is dated as late as the early 1470s by Lightbown (2004). Once in the Greek royal collection at Athens and later the collection of the German industrialist Oscar Huldschinsky in Berlin. Given to the museum in 1947 by the wealthy San Diegan sisters Anne and Amy Putnam. Warping of the panel has caused the paint surface to crack. The Virgin's blue mantle appears to have been repainted in an early restoration.
Strasbourg. Musée des Beaux-Arts.
Nativity. Wood, 37 x 51.
Probably from a predella, and similar in some details to the central panel of the predella of the Madonna della Rondine of 1491 (National Gallery, London). Acquired for the museum in Florence in 1890 by Wilhelm Bode. Sometimes ascribed to a close follower of Crivelli ('Master of the Strasbourg Adoration').
Tokyo. National Museum of Western Art.
Bishop Saint. Wood, 141 x 40.
The full-length figure, dressed as a bishop and holding three books, is usually identified as St Augustine. Clearly a side panel from a polyptych, it may have been produced in Crivelli's workshop in the late 1480s. Once in the collection of Charles Butler of London, it was acquired in England by the Japanese shipbuilding magnate Matsukata Kojiro, whose collection of Western art was eventually to form the nucleus of the Tokyo museum. Three other panels are thought to have belonged to the same polyptych: a St John the Baptist (Oxford), a Bishop Saint (Utrecht) and a St Lawrence (sold at Sotheby's, New York, in January 2001). The Tokyo panel is the only one of the four panels not to have been cut down to half-length.
Tulsa. Philbrook Art Center.
St Catherine and an Elderly Male Saint. Wood, 35 x 49.
St Catherine has her martyr's palm and spiked wheel; her crown and jewelled clasp were modelled in gesso and then painted and gilded. The elderly male saint with a book might be Jerome or John the Evangelist. This small lunette of two half-length saints belonged to the polyptych painted in 1470 for the church of San Giorgio at Porto San Giorgio. It was probably located on the left side of the upper tier, above the SS. Peter and Paul in the National Gallery, London. The matching lunette, from the right side, is at Cracow. Acquired by Kress in 1950 from Contini Bonacossi, and allocated to the Tulsa museum in 1961.
Upton House (near Banbury, Oxfordshire).
Two Evangelists. Wood, 30 x 23.
The two half-length figures are framed together. The Evangelist with the scroll is probably St John; the one with the Gospel has not been identified. From the predella of the polyptych originally in the convent of San Francesco at Montefiore. Acquired by Lord Bearsted after the Cornwall Legh collection (which contained eight of the predella panels) was sold in 1926.
Utrecht. Museum Catharijneconvent.
Bishop Saint. Wood, 58 x 38.
Originally full-length and cut down at the bottom. A matching panel of St Lawrence was in the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection (sold at Sotheby's, New York, in January 2001). Along with the Bishop Saint at Tokyo and the very damaged John the Baptist at Oxford, they may have belonged to an altarpiece painted in 1487 for the church of San Lorenzo at Castel San Pietro (or Castel Trosino). Formerly in the collection of the Swiss surgeon Otto Lanz at Amsterdam.
Saint Jerome and a Bishop Saint (Ansovinus?). Wood, 187 x 72.
From Camerino; the Madonna della Candeletta in the Brera was also from the cathedral there and the panel almost certainly belonged to the same polyptych. Transferred from the Brera in 1883. The bishop saint is often called Augustine but could be Ansovinus (a ninth-century bishop of Camerino).
Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Wood, 217 x 47.
The left side of the panel, with half of St Peter, has disappeared, leaving the wood exposed. Clearly from the same altarpiece as the St Jerome and a Bishop Saint. The panel was probably damaged in the earthquake that destroyed Camerino Cathedral in 1799. Purchased from the Marchese Sevanzi Colli of San Severino in 1895.
Venice. Fondazione Cini.
Madonna and Child. Wood, 28 x 18.
The Virgin, crowned as Queen of Heaven, stands behind a high parapet. The linen strip she winds around the waist of the Child, seated before her on a cushion, is perhaps an allusion to the winding cloth used at Christ's burial. At the sides of the cloth of honour, a landscape is described in minute detail. According to Lightbown (2004), this tiny panel is possibly a copy by Carlo's brother Vittore Crivelli. The picture surface is damaged by horizontal cracks. The Cini Foundation's collection of Venetian art was exhibited for the first time at the Palazzo Cini (Vittorio Cini's former residence in Dorsoduro) in 2016.
*‘Madonna della Passione’. Wood, 71 x 48.
On the marble parapet, tiny figures of children (possibly angels or possibly the Holy Innocents) present instruments of the Passion (the ladder, lance, nails, bucket of vinegar with the sponge, a column of red porphyry with the cock that crowed to Peter, the crown of thorns, scourge and cross) to the Child. Two goldfinches are perched on the swag of symbolic fruit (grapes, pears, apples and cherries). In the arch above, two boy angels play a lute and harp. On the right, viewed through an arch, are the city of Jerusalem and the hill of Golgotha with the Crucifixion in the distance. Signed on the front of the marble parapet, beneath the red silk cloth. Probably the earliest surviving picture by Crivelli, and the only one the provenance of which can be traced to Venice. It was originally in the convent of San Lorenzo. It had passed into the Venetian collection of Gaspare Craglietti by 1834, was later in the Barbini-Breganze collection at Padua, and entered the new Verona Pinacoteca in 1855 with the bequest of of Giulio Pompei. The panel has been damaged by woodworm, and had to be treated several times in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. The last restoration was in 2011.
Washington. National Gallery of Art.
*Virgin and Child. Wood, 127 x 51.
The Child holds a golden apple in both hands. On the floor to the left, behind a gold crown modelled in gesso, is a tiny figure of a tonsured donor. The words of a traditional Easter psalm ('Remember me, Oh Mother of God, Oh Queen of Heaven rejoice') are inscribed on the golden arch of the throne. The picture was originally the central panel of the altarpiece painted in 1470 for the high altar of the church of San Giorgio at Porto San Giorgio. It was flanked by the St George and the Dragon at Boston and the SS. Peter and Paul in London, and surmounted by the Entombment in Detroit and arched panels with pairs of half-length saints at Tulsa and Cracow. The altarpiece is said to have been commissioned by Giorgio da Prenta, a rich Albanian merchant who had settled in Porto San Giorgio. After the church was demolished in 1803, the altarpiece remained in the possession of his descendants. In 1835 it was broken up, and the main panels were sold to the collector Henry Hudson in Rome for 300 scudi. They came to England as a group, but were separated at Lord Dudley’s sale in 1876. The Virgin and Child passed into the celebrated Cook collection at Richmond. Acquired in 1944 by Samuel H. Kress, who donated it to the National Gallery in 1952.
Madonna. Wood, 39 x 31.
The pears and apples that hang to the right and left of the Virgin’s head and the cherry on the parapet all allude to Christ’s Passion. This small Madonna is probably a late work (about 1490). It is said to have been purchased in about 1890 by Eugen Miller von Aicholz of Vienna from a nobleman in a castle in the Romagna. Later in the collection of H. E. ten Cate in the Netherlands. Acquired by Kress in 1937.
Williamstown. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute.
Christ. Wood, 30 x 22.
Half-length of Christ holding an orb. The central panel of the predella of the altarpiece painted for the convent church at Montefiore, to which the Virgin and Child and St Francis in Brussels and the Dead Christ in London also belonged. Seven other panels from the predella (half-lengths of Apostles) are in Detroit, Honolulu, New York and Upton House (Oxfordshire). All these panels were in the hands of the dealer Cav. Pietro Vallati in Rome in 1859. The eight surviving predella panels were purchased by Cornwall Legh of High Legh Hall, Knutsford, Cheshire. The Christ was acquired when the Cornwall Legh collection was sold in 1926.
Worcester (Mass.). Museum of Art.
Saints Clare and Bernardino of Siena. Wood, 36 x 18.
The two Franciscan saints stand together on a marble step, Clare holding a lily and Bernardino holding a book and his monogram with the Holy Name of Jesus. Formerly in the London collection of Lord Northbrook who owned several works by Crivelli. The panel belonged to the frame of the altarpiece painted in 1488 for the church of San Pietro di Muralto in Camerino. The main panel is in Berlin, the lunette is probably the Pietà in the Vatican, and there are other small side panels of saints in Berlin, Maastricht and Rome (Palazzo Colonna).