Cima da ConeglianoGiovanni Battista Cima is usually called Cima da Conegliano after his native town in the northern Veneto. His father was a cloth-dresser (cimatore di panni). He is assumed to have reached the age of majority of 14 in 1473-74, when his name first appears in his father’s tax declaration, implying that he was born in 1459 or 1460. Early writers (Vasari, Sansovino and Ridolfi) say that he was a pupil or disciple of Giovanni Bellini, who was undoubtedly his greatest influence. He spent almost his entire career in Venice. He was probably resident there by 1486 (if he is the ‘Magister Zambatista pictor’ of Venice who in that year painted a standard for the cobblers’ guild in Conegliano), and he was certainly living there in 1492 (when he is referred to as a ‘pictor eximius Venetiis’ in a contract for an altarpiece for Conegliano Cathedral). In 1514 he was living in an apartment in the Palazzo Corner Piscopia (later Loredan), near the Rialto Bridge. He is thought to have returned to Conegliano in 1516, when he bought some property there. He died in 1517 or 1518 and was buried on 3 September in ‘the church of the friars’, possibly the Frari in Venice but more probably San Francesco at Conegliano.
Cima’s major works are altarpieces (some thirty of which survive), but he also painted many smaller panels of Madonnas or Saints and a few small panels of mythological subjects. He is not known to have painted independent portraits. His picturesque and beautifully detailed landscape backgrounds evoke the hilly scenery around Conegliano. His style, still essentially Quattrocento, evolved little over three decades, though his later works show some softening of contours and a wider colour range. He shared much of Bellini’s feeling for light and colour, and his best works are executed with meticulous craftsmanship. But he was an uneven artist, who seems to have maintained a substantial studio and often repeated his own compositions. Overshadowed by his great contemporaries (Giorgione and the young Titian as well as Bellini), he is often overlooked in histories of Renaissance art and even in surveys of Venetian painting.
Madonna Suckling the Child. Canvas (transferred from panel), 83 x 68.
Badly worn and dull in appearance. Ascribed to Benedetto Diana in the 1960s, but probably a late work of Cima. Once in the collection of Count Rossi da Conegliano, and by 1826 in the Reghellini collection at Brussels, which was bought by King William I in 1831. Transferred from the Mauritshuis in The Hague to the Rijksmuseum in 1885.
Avignon. Musée du Petit Palais.
Virgin and Child with St John the Baptist and St Francis. Wood, 65 x 91.
Signed on a cartellino, bottom right. A replica, probably from Cima’s workshop, of a painting in Düsseldorf. From the Campana collection (sold to the French State in 1862). Until 1976, on loan to the museum at Troyes.
Bergamo. Accademia Carrara.
Virgin and Child (no. 959). Wood, 59 x 48.
Overpainted; Cima’s signature is now barely visible on the cartellino. Probably late. Bequeathed to the Accademia in 1891 with the collection of the art historian Giovanni Morelli. The composition of the Virgin and Child is repeated in a half-length Sacra Conversazione at the Ca d'Oro, Venice.
Virgin and Child (no. 509). Wood, 54 x 37.
A workshop replica of the Bologna Madonna. Bequeathed to the city of Bergamo in 1859 with the collection of Guglielmo Lochis.
Virgin and Child (no. 186). Wood (transferred to canavs), 62 x 49.
This rarely exhibited painting is attributed to Cima's workshop (or his pupil Antonio Maria da Carpi). There are better versions in the National Gallery, London, and Cini collection, Venice. The composition also occurs reversed (eg. in the National Gallery of Wales, Cardiff, and the Gardner Museum, Boston). From the bequest (1796) of the Accademia's founder, Giacomo Carrara.
*Madonna enthroned with Saints. Wood, 206 x 135.
The Virgin is seated high on a marble throne under a domed portico. St Peter (with keys and book) and St Paul (with sword and book) stand at the sides. The saints in white monks' habits standing behind them are Romuald (founder of the Camaldolese order) and Benedict (whose Rule for monastic living the Camaldolese followed). The text of St Paul’s book, taken from his letter to the Philippians (‘every knee shall bow’), is clearly legible. The mosaic, representing scenes from the Life of Joseph, in the dome is taken from one in the atrium of St Mark's Basilica. This picture was the altarpiece of the sacristy of San Michele in Isola, the church on the cemetery island between Venice and Murano. It was probably commissioned by (or in rememberance of) Pietro Boldù, abbot of the Camaldolese monastery of Santa Maria delle Carceri, near Este, who was buried in front of the altar in 1495. It was removed from the church in about 1806 and entered the Berlin Gallery with the Solly collection in 1821.
Virgin and Child with Donor. Wood, 66 x 90.
The Virgin holds up the Child's right hand, so that he can bless the donor, who is portrayed bust-length and almost in profile in the bottom left of the painting. Signed lower right. The luminous landscape – with the castle of Conegliano crowning the hill to the right – is exquisitely detailed. Signed in the bottom right corner. A fairly early work, dated about 1492-94 by Humfrey (1983). Also from the Solly collection.
*A Miracle of St Mark. Wood, 172 x 135.
St Mark heals Anianus, a cobbler who had injured himself with an awl while repairing the saint’s shoe. The story is told in the Golden Legend. Cima has tried to evoke the exotic surroundings of Alexandria in the architecture and costumes. (The spectators are dressed as contemporary Egyptians, with bulbous turbans or with the red bonnets of Mamluk army officers.) The picture is one of four scenes from the life of St Mark painted for the chapel of the Arte dei Setaioli (silk weavers) in the church of the Crociferi (now Gesuiti) in Venice, and later in the Scuola del Rosario at SS. Giovanni e Paolo. One of the other scenes (by Mansueti) is in the Prince of Liechtenstein’s collection and is dated 1499; the others are lost. Acquired, again, by the Berlin Museum in 1821 with the Solly collection.
Two Men Fighting. Wood, 32 x 53.
Two men fight with swords on the seashore, while a third man plays a flute; on the left, a galleon is anchored in the bay. The subject has not been confidently identified. (One tentative suggestion is that the picture represents the young Roland learning the art of fencing in the presence of a musician. Another is that it represents Theseus slaying Taurus, the captain of King Minos, at a seaport.) The panel is very damaged, and is probably from a cassone or some other piece of furniture. Sometimes accepted as a comparatively late work of Cima and sometimes ascribed to his circle. It was formerly in the collection of the Earl of Ashburnham in London, and was acquired by the Berlin Gallery (as by Giorgione) in 1901.
Birmingham. Barber Institute.
Crucifixion. Wood, 83 x 116.
The figure of the crucified Christ is similar to that in the Crucifixions by Antonello at London and Antwerp, which were painted in Venice in 1475. The Virgin and St John the Evangelist stand at the sides of the cross. In the left background, Pontius Pilate’s palace is used as the setting for three scenes from the Passion of Christ: Pilate washing his Hands (top left), the Crowning of Thorns (top right) and the Denial of Peter (bottom). The Agony in the Garden is shown in the right background. Probably very early (late 1480s or early 1490s). Formerly in the collection of the art historian Gustavo Frizzoni at Bergamo and later that of Conte Contini-Bonacossi at Rome; bought by the Institute from Agnew for £8,750 in 1938.
Birmingham. City Art Gallery,
Dead Christ. Wood, 27 x 17.
This little panel of the dead Christ sitting on the edge of the tomb may originally have formed the central pinnacle of a polyptych or served as the door of a tabernacle. In a similar picture, formerly in the Cook collection at Richmond, the dead Christ is supported by two angels, and it is possible there were originally angels, subsequently painted over, in the Birmingham panel as well. Once in the collection of Paul Delaroff of St Petersburg. Presented to the gallery in 1930 by the Public Picture Gallery fund. The attribution to Cima dates back at least to 1914, when the panel was sold in Paris, but there have also been attributions to (or after) Giovanni Bellini and to Marco Basaiti. Humfrey (1983) does not consider the picture ‘of autograph quality’.
Bologna. Pinacoteca Nazionale.
Madonna and Child. Wood, 60 x 47.
The naked Child stands, facing the Virgin, on a fold of her mantle placed on top of the marble parapet, and crosses his arms on his chest in a gesture of devotion or submission. Signed, bottom right, on a scrap of paper attached to the front of the parapet. From the sacristy of the church of San Giovanni in Monte at Bologna; it is uncertain whether it was commissioned by the church or donated at a later date. Probably painted around the mid-1490s. There is a studio replica in the Accademia Carrara at Bergamo and a damaged copy in the Holburne Museum at Bath. There are also several versions in private collections.
Boston. Gardner Museum.
Madonna and Child. Wood, 54 x 46.
Damaged and retouched. Called an autograph Cima by Berenson, but probably a shop work or contemporary copy. There is a superior version (without the green curtain) in the National Gallery of Wales at Cardiff. Bought by Mrs Gardner (through Berenson) from Colnaghi’s of London in 1897 for £500.
Budapest. Museum of Fine Arts.
St Jerome in the Wilderness. Wood, 70 x 99.
Another version, probably from Cima's workshop, of the fine painting at Harewood House, Leeds. The execution was once sometimes ascribed to Marco Basaiti, whose false signature appears on the cartellino.
Caen. Musée des Beaux-Arts.
Triptych. Canvas (transferred).
The centre panel (137 x 61) shows the Virgin and Child enthroned; the inscription on the cartellino is poorly preserved, but includes Cima’s name and the date 1511. The side panels (each 121 x 45) show St George and St James. St George is presented as a knight in armour holding a lance. In the landscape behind, his charger is tethered to a tree and the princess is threatened by the dragon. St James is presented as a pilgrim, his hat with a scallop-shell badge hanging from the hook on his staff. The panels have been twice-transferred (first from wood to canvas in the nineteenth century and then to new canvas supports in 1970) and are much damaged, restoration concealing extensive paint losses. Once owned by the painter Charles Timbal, and given to the museum by his widow in 1881. Yellowed varnish was removed in a recent restoration.
Cambridge. Fitzwilliam Museum.
Three Saints. Wood, 145 x 130.
This (rather battered) picture fits the description of an altarpiece seen by Marco Boschini (1674) in the convent of the Gesuiti (earlier Santa Maria del Crociferi) at Venice: ‘… a panel by Giovanni Battista Cima of Conegliano in which one sees half-length in a solemn throne Bishop Lanfranc, and on the right St John the Baptist and on the left a saint of the Crocifero [probably St Liberius of Ancona] with as usual a view of Conegliano in the distance’. The altar belonged to the Arte dei Pellicari, a guild trading in Balkan squirrel fur, which had its premises next to the church. The picture is a late work, and may have been commissioned in 1514 when the church was redecorated after a fire. It remained in the convent until at least 1746. At some time, the panel was divided into three parts with a saint on each. The parts have since been reunited, but a portion of the top of the picture is lost. Bequeathed to the Fitzwilliam Museum in 1912 with the collection of the Anglo-Irish landowner and Trinity College alumnus Charles Brinsley Marlay.
Cardiff. National Gallery of Wales.
*Virgin and Child. Wood, 60 x 48.
The blue-grey Dolomites in the distance. A tiny turbaned horseman is seen on the winding road to the right. Signed on a cartellino at the right edge of the marble parapet. A fine mature work (around 1500). First recorded in Bologna (in the Minghetti Gallery and Palazzo Zambeccari), and later in the collection of Jerome Bonaparte in the Palais Royal, Paris. Bought by Lord Overstone of Lockinge House, near Wantage, in 1876. It remained in his family until 1977, when it was purchased through Agnew by the National Gallery of Wales. There are other versions. One (damaged and probably from Cima's studio) is in the Gardner Museum at Boston. Another (smaller but probably at least partly autograph) was sold at Sotheby's, New York, in January 2019. The composition is repeated in reverse in Madonnas in the London National Gallery (no. 2506) and the Cini collection at Venice.
Cleveland (Ohio). Museum of Art.
Madonna and Child with Saints and Donors. Wood, 56 x 79.
The Christ Child blesses the male donor, who is presented by St Anthony Abbot (identified by his tau-shaped staff). The Virgin blesses the female donor, who is presented by a female saint (possibly Lucy, though she has no identifying attributes). Probably a late product of Cima's workshop. Bequeathed to the museum in 1936 with the collection of the Cleveland industrialist John Long Severance.
*Virgin and Child with Saints. Canvas (transferred), 345 x 202.
The picture takes the basic 'sacra conversazione' form of Giovanni Bellini’s San Giobbe Altarpiece of a few years earlier. The Virgin is enthroned under the coffered arch of what appears to be a domed classical structure (tempietto) supported on pillars and open to the elements. The rather crowded composition includes six saints: a gaunt John the Baptist (with a slender cross and hands joined in prayer); Nicholas of Bari (in bishop's robes); Catherine of Alexandria (with martyr's palm and broken wheel); Apollonia (holding a pair of pincers with a tooth); Francis (standing in the background with a small cross); and Peter (the Keys of Heaven hanging from his wrist). Two Bellinesque boy angels standing at the foot of the throne play a fiddle (rebec) and lute. The picture was ordered for the high altar of Santa Maria dei Battuti (now the Cathedral) on 1 January 1492 by the Scuola dei Battuti in Conegliano. It was finished by the following summer. An inscription gives the date 1493 and the names of the officials (Francesco Codroipo and Giovanni della Pasqualina) that commissioned the altarpiece. Cima’s father was a member of the Scuola, which was the wealthiest confraternity in the city. Cima is said to have accepted an unusually low fee (416 lire) for the picture out of patriotism. Its condition is not very good. As early as 1527-37, it was restored by Cima’s son Niccolò. It was transferred from wood to canvas in 1963 and restored again in 2009.
Conegliano. Museo Civico del Castello.
Annunciation; Two Saints. Four canvases, each 177/172 x 81/71.
One saint is John the Baptist; the other is usually called Thaddeus but Humfrey (1983) identifies him as Matthias. The four canvases are from the convent of San Francesco at Conegliano, where they are first recorded in 1774. They probably originally formed the doors of an organ, with the Angel Gabriel and the Virgin of the Annunciation being attached to the backs of the two saints. After the convent was closed in Napoleonic times, the canvases were removed to the Accademia in Venice. The two saints were taken to Vienna in 1838 but returned in 1919. The canvases are poorly preserved (especially the two saints), and may have been executed by a workshop assistant.
Copenhagen. Statens Museum for Kunst.
Judgement of Midas. Wood, 43 x 73.
This rectangular panel illustrates the musical competition, described in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, between the god Apollo and the satyr Pan. Pan does not play his usual pipes but, like Apollo, a lira da braccio (a seven-stringed precursor of the violin). King Midas is seated on a tree trunk in the centre. He has not yet grown the asses' ears he acquired as punishment for preferring Pan's 'barbaric notes'. Tmolus, the mountain deity that judged the contest, stands listening on the left. Probably comparatively late (towards 1510?). It may originally have decorated a piece of furniture or a keyboard instrument. Acquired in Italy around 1820 by Count Adam Detlef Moltke. Given to the museum in 1948 by Countess Cornelia T. Moltke (widow of the Danish minister Carl Moltke). Much repainted and sometimes ascribed to Cima's workshop. There is another version by Cima of the myth – a small tondo – at Parma.
Detroit. Institute of Arts.
Virgin and Child. Wood, 64 x 47.
The Child, seated naked on a green cloth draped on the marble parapet, touches the hand of the praying Virgin. A crimson curtain fills most of the background, with just a strip of landscape visible at the left edge. Signed on the front of the parapet. An early work. Like the altarpiece of 1489 at Vicenza, it seems to show the influence of Bartolomeo Montagna. It was acquired by James Dennistoun, the distinguished Scottish ‘amateur’ and author of the Dukes of Urbino, in about 1842, and was valued at the comparatively high price of £24 3s at his sale at Christie’s in 1855. Later in the collection of the Rev. Davenport Bromley, it was bought in 1888 by the Detroit newspaper publisher James E. Scripps, who donated it (along with some seventy other old master paintings) to the Arts Institute the following year.
Annunciation. Wood, 64 x 91.
Large half-length figures of the Angel Gabriel (approaching with her lily and hand raised in blessing) and the Virgin (standing behind a prie-dieu with her arms crossed submissively on her breast) are shown in a severely plain interior. Probably a comparatively late studio work (dated around 1510-15 by Humfrey (1983)). Acquired by the Detroit banker and diplomat Ralph H. Booth from the famous Italian dealer Alessandro Contini Bonacossi, and gifted by his widow (with eight other paintings) to the Arts Institute in 1943.
*Presentation of the Virgin. Wood, 105 x 145.
The subject, while not in the Bible, is found in early apocryphal writings and the thirteenth-century Golden Legend, and was commonly depicted during the Renaissance either as a separate scene or as part of a cycle of the Life of the Virgin. The Virgin Mary's elderly parents, Joachim and Anne, watch as the little girl climbs the flight of fifteen steps to the temple to be welcomed by the high priest. The little boy sitting at the bottom of the steps is surrounded by baskets of food and a bird cage. Many onlookers are in contemporary Muslim attire. The picture is probably of the mid-1490s. According to old inventories, it was acquired by Minelli for Augustus III from a church near Venice. The scheme of the young Virgin mounting the steps is repeated in pictures of the same subject by Carpaccio (painted in about 1504 for the Scuola degli Albanesi and now in the Brera) and by Titian (painted in the mid-1530s for the Scuola della Carità and now in the Accademia).
The Saviour. Wood, 152 x 77.
The Christ blessing almost repeats the figure in Giovanni Bellini’s Transfiguration in Naples. First recorded (as by Bellini) in the 1784 gallery inventory.
Madonna with St John the Baptist and St Francis. Wood, 64 x 91.
Six cherubim in the sky. Signed on the cartellino, bottom right. One of Cima’s many half-length sacre conversazioni of the Virgin flanked by two saints (a format derived from Giovanni Bellini). Probably an early work (1485-90?). Acquired in about 1820 from an unknown source. There is a signed replica in the Musée du Petit Palais at Avignon.
Edinburgh. National Gallery of Scotland.
Virgin and Child with St Andrew and St Peter. Wood, 56 x 47.
The panel is very unfinished, and in places there is only under-painting in black ink on the white gesso ground. The blue paint in the sky is not original. Once owned by the Princes of Collalto (near Conegliano). Bought in about 1830 by Ottavio Ellero of Perugia, whose son sold it in 1887 to Miss Margaret Peter Dove. Presented to the gallery in 1915. The attribution to Cima (or even his workshop) is now sometimes doubted. Peter Humfrey (in the catalogue of the 2004 exhibition The Age of Titian) suggested Girolamo da Udine.
Este. Museo Nazionale Atestino.
Virgin and Child. Wood, 85 x 70.
Signed and dated 1504 on the cartellino. From the church of Santa Maria delle Consolazioni at Este. It was commissioned by a physician, Giovanni Pietro Gazzo of Este, and two Venetian noblemen, Girolamo and Daniele Renier. Finished in June 1504. Transferred to the museum in 1975 after recovery from theft. The original wooden frame, carved by Francesco Montovano, is still in the church. Heavily restored. There is a similar picture – almost identical in design but darker in colour – in the Uffizi.
Feltre. Museo Civico.
Altarpiece (‘Pala di Zermen’). Canvas (transferred from panel).
The main panel (147 x 138) shows the Virgin and Child, enthroned on a high marble pedestal, between two saints. The bishop on the left, wearing a richly embroidered scarlet cope, is St Dionysius (St Denis of Paris). The youthful saint on the right, wearing a green cloak and classical armour and holding a martyr's palm, is usually identified as Vittore (Victor), but could be Eleutherius (a martyred companion of Dionysius). The lunette (75 x 138) shows half-length figures of Christ blessing between St Peter (whose keys hang from his wrist) and St Paul (with sword). From the church of San Dionisio, in the parish of Zermen at Feltre, where it is recorded over the high altar by Ridolfi (1648). St Dionysius is the patron saint of Zermen and Vittore the patron saint of Feltre. The altarpiece, described in the late nineteenth century as being in terrible condition, was bought by the Italian State in 1898. During a radical restoration in 1907, the main panel was transferred to canvas. On loan to the Feltre museum since 1927 from the Venice Accademia. Probably a late work (about 1510?); the lunette seems weaker than the main panel and may have been executed by an assistant.
Virgin and Child. Wood, 66 x 57.
Almost identical in composition to the Madonna dated 1504 in the museum at Este; the main difference is the pose of the Child, who is depicted here holding the Virgin’s thumb. There is also another, weaker version (possibly by Anton Maria da Carpi) in the museum at Padua. Acquired by the Accademia in 1818 from an unknown source, and transferred to the Uffizi in 1882.
Saint Jerome in the Desert. Wood, 33 x 28.
There are at least six different versions of this subject by Cima. (Others are at: Harewood House, Yorkshire; the Brera, Milan; the National Gallery, London; the National Gallery, Washington; and the Hermitage, St Petersburg.) Probably late (towards 1510?). It was formerly in the famous collection of Prince Giovanelli in his palazzo, near San Marziale at Venice. Bequeathed to the Florentine Galleries in 1969 with the Contini-Bonacossi collection. (Housed temporarily in the Palazzina della Meridiana of the Pitti Palace, the collection was transferred to the Uffizi in 1993 but has been accessible to visitors only since March 2018.) Previously somewhat obscured by thick, discoloured varnish, the little panel was restored in 2012. The landscape is exquisite.
Florence (Settignano). Villa I Tatti.
Saint Sebastian. Wood, 101 x 48.
Probably a side panel from a triptych or large polyptych. One of several paintings acquired by Berenson in 1909-10 from the Milanese music critic Aldo Noseda.
Madonna and Child. Wood, 68 x 53.
The Child stands on the knee of the Virgin, who strokes the sole of his foot. The low viewpoint – the Virgin's gaze and the Child's gaze and blessing are directed downwards – suggests that the composition was adapted from an altarpiece. (The Virgin's pose resembles that in the Montini Altarpiece of about 1507 in Parma.) A charming landscape – with a hamlet perched on a grassy hill and distant blue mountains beyond – is viewed through an arched widow. One of Cima's later Madonnas. Signed on a scrap of paper attached (bottom right) to the parapet. Acquired from Nikolaus Baronowsky of Vienna in 1831.
Gemona del Friuli (6 km from Udine). Museo Civico (Palazzo Elti).
Madonna and Child. Wood, 87 x 69.
Signed and dated 1496 on the cartellino attached to the marble parapet. From the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie at Gemona. Very damaged and much restored. The whole right-hand side, including the Virgin’s head, was repainted as early as 1590 to repair damage caused by votive lamps hanging in front of the panel. The repaint was renewed in a restoration of 1945. The picture was stolen in January 1972 and, although recovered by the Guardia di Finanza the following year, it was never returned to the church, which was completely destroyed in the 1976 earthquake. The design is repeated in other half-length Madonnas by Cima and his workshop (including one in the Musée du Petit Palais in Paris).
Harewood House (near Leeds).
*St Jerome in a Landscape. Wood, 66 x 103.
The landscape has been said to represent Conegliano, but may just be a generalised view. Towards the left, a tiny figure (St Paul the Hermit?) sits reading outside the entrance to a cave. The carefully observed birds and creatures include a pair of red-legged partridges, a reptile killing a snake, a snake threatening a water bird (rail?), deer, and a bird of prey (goshawk or female sparrowhawk?) in the tree. The inscription on the cartellino (far right) is no longer legible. There are no early references to the picture, which was acquired from Charles Fairfax Murray by Edward Kennard, who loaned it to the Old Masters exhibition at Burlington House in 1883 as a work of Marco Basaiti. The attribution to Cima was made by Tancred Borenius in the 1911 Burlington Magazine. It is the largest and possibly the earliest of Cima’s half-dozen or so paintings of this subject, probably dating from the early or mid-1490s. There is another version, identical in composition but weaker in execution, at Budapest.
Leipzig. Museum der Bildenen Kunste.
Virgin and Child with the St John the Baptist and St Jerome. Canvas (transferred), 73 x 113.
Cima’s signature, on the parapet, has been falsified to read ‘Joannis Bellini’. Damaged and retouched. Similar to the Madonna and Saints at Munich, and probably a work of the middle or late 1490s. Recorded from 1827 in the Speck von Sternburg collection at Leipzig. Acquired by the museum in 1945.
Head of the Virgin. Wood, 33 x 28.
A bust-length fragment cut from an altarpiece. The marble background would have represented the back of the Virgin's throne. The top of a white rose is visible at the bottom edge. The panel entered the museum in 1944 with the legacy of the Leipzig banker and art historian Fritz von Harck.
Lisbon. Gulbenkion Foundation.
*Rest on Flight into Egypt. Wood, 54 x 72.
The Virgin is seated on a rocky mound under a tree; on her left are St Joseph, an angel in prayer and a female martyr saint (Lucy or Catherine?); and on her right are another angel, her hands crossed on her breast, and St John the Baptist. This fine small panel – like an altarpiece in miniature – probably dates from the middle or late 1490s. The Virgin and Child and rocky mound are repeated from the Madonna dell'Arancia – an altarpiece painted for Santa Chiara on Murano and now in the Accademia at Venice. First recorded in the possession of the French portrait painter Féréol Bonnemaison. By 1819 it had been acquired by Sir Abraham Hume, the British politician, geologist and rose cultivator, who assembled a remarkable collection of Venetian Renaissance art. Later in the collection of Earl Brownlow at Ashbridge. Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkion at Christie's, London, in 1923.
London. National Gallery.
The Incredulity of St Thomas. Formerly on wood, 294 x 200.
Doubting Thomas places his finger in the wound in Christ's side and is convinced that Christ had risen from the dead (John 20: 24-27). The picture was commissioned in 1497 by the Scuola di San Tommaso, a penitential charitable confraternity, for the altar of their patron saint in San Francesco at Portogruaro (near Conegliano). One cartellino, bottom centre, gives the names of several officers of the Scuola; another, to the right, gives Cima’s signature and the date 1504. Because of a dispute over the price, Cima did not receive final payment until 1509. When San Francesco was demolished in 1828, the picture was moved to Sant’Andrea at Portogruaro. It was sold to the National Gallery in 1870 for £1,800. It had suffered considerable damage (it is said to have spent many hours accidentally under the waters of the Grand Canal during restoration in Venice in about 1820). After repeated problems of blistering and flaking, the painting underwent a long and difficult restoration in the 1970s and early 1980s. Earlier attempts to secure adhesion by injecting glue under the paint layer with a hypodermic syringe had failed, and it was decided to transfer the painting from its original poplar panel. It took several years to chip away all the wood from the back before the picture could be glued to a new synthetic (fibreglass and aluminium) support. The very extensive areas of paint loss were retouched to match the better-preserved parts; the restored areas appear a little blurred and indistinct. A new frame was made for the restored painting. The top, now arched, was probably rectangular originally.
Saint Jerome. Wood, 32 x 26.
The penitent saint kneels before a crucifix, a rock in his hand; his lion crouches behind him; a hawk perches on the branch of the tree above; and a serpent crawls out from beneath the rock on which the crucifix is set. This tiny panel is a mature work, probably dating from the first decade of the sixteenth century. Acquired at Venice in 1770 by the British diplomat John Strange, and bought by the National Gallery at the Duke of Hamilton’s sale in 1882 for 470 gns.
David and Jonathan. Wood, 41 x 40.
The intimate friendship between David and Jonathan is described in I Samuel 18: 1-4. The subject is unusual in Renaissance art, and the composition may have been suggested by paintings of Tobias and the Angel. David carries a sword and the Head of Goliath and Jonathan a javelin (perhaps that thrown at David by Jonathan’s father King Saul). Probably late (perhaps 1505-10). Said to have come from the Modici collection at Naples. Acquired in Italy for 'only' £750 in 1898 by the discerning Australian-born collector George Salting, who bequeathed his entire collection of paintings, prints and drawings, ceramics and bronzes to the nation in 1910.
*Madonna (no. 300). Wood, 70 x 57.
The landscape detail is almost too small for the naked eye. On the left, a pair of swans swim in a stream, a bird of prey perches on a branch overhead, and a man drives a ladden donkey towards an arched bridge that leads to the gateway of a walled town. On the right, a man balances on a tree trunk placed across a stream. The fortified town on the hill seems to be a fairly faithful representation of fifteenth-century Conegliano. Signed, bottom right, on the Verona marble parapet. (Unusually, the word 'Coneglanensis' is omitted from the signature, suggesting that the picture could have been intended for a client in Cima's home town.) One of more than half a dozen versions – some executed by Cima himself, others merely copies by assistants or followers – of a composition that probably dates from the late 1490s. The National Gallery painting is generally accepted as fully autograph. So, too, is a version in the museum at Raleigh (North Carolina), which has a different, more distant castle on the hill on the right and also a different town and landscape on the left. A version (signed) sold at Christie’s in 2007 and now in the Los Angeles County Museum is also of high quality. It has a castle and landscape very similar to the London version on the right, but the buildings and landscape on the left are different. An inferior version in the Museo Civico at Treviso is a near replica of the London painting, while versions at the Louvre and Hermitage both have curtains on the right. Purchased from M. Roussel of Paris in 1858 for £339.
*Madonna (no. 634). Wood, 54 x 44.
The Child appears to be holding a linnet rather than the more usual goldfinch. The Virgin’s garments are bordered alla perosina (in the Persian style). The stone bench on which she sits may be intended to evoke an altar table. The buildings on the left include a ruined classical temple. On the right, a Roman bridge spans a river. On the left, a soldier strolls along a winding path. On the right, a stag grazes in a meadow. Signed on the Verona marble parapet. The picture probably dates from the early 1500s. A signed replica in Berlin was destroyed in 1945. One of forty-six paintings acquired by the National Gallery in 1860 with the collection of Edmond Beaucousin of Paris.
Madonna (no. 2506). Wood, 65 x 52.
The Child clutches the Virgin's girdle, while she gently strokes the sole of his foot. Signed on the marble parapet. The composition probably dates from around 1500. There are other versions and variants; in some (eg. at Cardiff and in the Gardner Museum at Boston) the composition is reversed. One of some thirty early Italian paintings included in the 1910 bequest of the Australian-born collector George Salting. Cleaned and restored in 2006-7.
Christ crowned with Thorns. Wood, 37 x 29.
Christ wears a crown of thorn branches and a robe of imperial purple in mockery of his description as King of the Jews. This moving little devotional panel was purchased at the 1890 sale of George Perkin’s collection, where it was bizarrely described as a work of Carlo Dolci. It was first catalogued as by Giovanni Bellini; but the attribution to Cima, as a late work, is now general. The comparatively broad brushwork suggests that it is comparatively late. Extensive repaint was removed in a restoration of 1981. Another version (possibly a later copy) from a private collection was displayed alongside it at the 2010 Cima exhibition at Conegliano.
St Sebastian; Male Saint. Wood, 103 x 41.
The draped saint, holding a quill pen, is usually identified as Mark but might be Luke or James. Possibly the panels of St Sebastian and St Mark mentioned by Ridolfi (1648), which flanked a picture in the church of Santa Maria dei Crociferi (now the Gesuiti) in Venice. Acquired in Venice in 1854 by Sir Charles Eastlake from the painter, engraver and picture dealer Natale Schiavoni; bought in 1894 by the German-born chemist and industrialist Ludwig Mond, who bequeathed his collection to the National Gallery in 1924.
Virgin and Child with St John the Evangelist and St Nicholas of Bari. Canvas, 51 x 71.
One of some dozen early Venetian works included in the 1916 bequest of the famous Victorian traveller, archaeologist, art historian and diplomat Sir Henry Layard (now best remembered for his excavations of Nimrud and Ninevah). Like many other paintings in the bequest, it is much damaged and restored. Sometimes accepted as an authentic late Cima, but its quality is hard to judge. Not normally on display.
London. Wallace Collection.
*Saint Catherine of Alexandria. Wood, 152 x 78.
The central panel of an altarpiece from the Franciscan church of San Rocco at Mestre (a town on the mainland very near Venice). The lunette is also in the Wallace Collection. The wings, showing the plague saints Sebastian and Roch, are in Strasbourg. The altarpiece probably dates from around 1502, and remained over the high altar of the church until at least 1726. It was acquired (probably without the frame) by the British diplomat John Strange at the end of the eighteenth century, and was exhibited for sale in London in 1799 (as the ‘chef d’oeuvre of Cima da Conegliano’). It was divided up some time between 1832, when the altarpiece was sold intact at Stanley’s auction rooms in London, and 1846, when the Saint Catherine alone is recorded in Lord Northwick’s collection at Cheltenham. Bought by Lord Hertford in 1859 at the Northwick sale for £800 guineas. Much damaged and restored. The altarpiece appears to have been harshly cleaned before it was broken up, and the sky and flesh parts are abraded. The sky and landscape on the left have also suffered badly from blistering and flaking. The top has been cut down substantially, removing the architrave of the ceiling above the saint’s head. A long and complicated restoration undertaken at the National Gallery in 1993-99 removed old retouchings and reconstructed the lost ceiling on a separate piece of wood.
Virgin between St Francis and St Anthony of Padua. Wood, 41 x 85.
The lunette disappeared from view for many years after the altarpiece was divided up. It resurfaced in the early twentieth century in a London collection, and was sold at Christie’s in 1912. Presented to the Wallace Collection by Mr and Mrs George Blumenthal of New York in 1933, and reunited with the Saint Catherine in a Renaissance-style frame made in the same year. .
London. Courtauld Institute Galleries.
God the Father. Wood, 32 x 41.
Presumably a fragment from the top of an altarpiece. Once in the Guggenheim collection at Venice and later owned by Lord Wimborne of Canford Manor, Dorset. Sold at Christie’s in 1923 as a Lotto. Bequeathed to London University by Lord Lee of Fareham in 1947.
London. Royal Collection.
Tiny polyptych. Four panels, each 26/27 x 7.
Two panels show St George and St Theodore (or St Liberale) as mounted knights in armour, with the Angel Gabriel and the Virgin Annunciate above. The other two panels show full-length figures of saints (Stephen and perhaps Benedict or Paul) in grisaille. The framing is modern, and the four panels probably originally formed the two sides of the wings of a small triptych or tabernacle. Acquired by Queen Victoria in 1847 (through Grüner from Minardi of Rome) as a present for Prince Albert’s twenty-eighth birthday. The grisaille saints are painted more coarsely than the other two panels and might be by a different hand.
Los Angeles. County Museum of Art.
Madonna and Child in a Landscape. Wood, 73 x 59.
Signed, lower right, on the marble parapet. This little known picture, hidden for years in a German private collection, was sold at Christie’s in April 2007 for $3.4 million (a record for Cima at auction) and gifted to the museum the following year by the Robert H. Ahmanson Foundation. There are other versions (of varying quality) in London, Paris, Raleigh, St Petersburg, Treviso and elsewhere.
Macon (Georgia). Wesleyan College.
Madonna and Child. Wood, 52 x 46.
There are several versions of this composition, which may date from the early 1500s. Humfrey (1983) sees workshop assistance. First recorded in 1902, when sold at Christie's in London by the Florentine dealer Stefano Bardini. Acquired by Kress from Contini Bonacossi in 1935, and donated to the Wesleyan College the following year.
Mantua. Palazzo Ducale.
Polyptych of Sant'Anna di Capodistria. Wood, 343 x 305.
A polyptych of ten panels in its original frame. In the centre, the Virgin is enthroned with the Child asleep in her lap. Boy angels, seated on the step, play a fiddle (rebec) and lute. Four saints (Mary Magdalene, Anne, Joachim and Catherine of Alexandria) stand at the sides, and four more (Clare, Francis, Jerome and Nazarius) are shown half-length above. Nazarius, patron saint of Capodistria, holds a model of the city. The gable depicts Christ blessing between St Peter and St Andrew, with the dove of the Holy Spirit in the triangular pediment above. The polyptych is a late work, commissioned on 18 April 1513 for the main altar of the Franciscan church of Sant'Anna at Capodistria (now Koper in Slovenia). Cima's fee was 70 florins, while the woodcarver (Vettor da Feltre) received 31 ducats. The polyptych was among many works of art evacuated from the churches and museums of Italian Istria before the war with Yugoslavia (April 1941). The panels were deposited with Franciscan convents in Venice, Trieste and Mantua, and then, in 1966, transferred to the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua. After decades in storage and a ten-year restoration, the polyptych was put on display at the Palazzo Ducale museum in 2010.
Mells Manor (near Frome in Somerset).
Resurrection. Wood, 12 x 27.
Possibly a panel from an (unusually small) predella. The painting entered the Mells Manor collection as a wedding gift in 1883 from William Graham (the Scottish wine merchant, Liberal politician, art collector and patron of the Pre-Raphaelites) to his daughter Frances.
Only the gardens of Mells Manor are regularly open to the public, though the house may occasionally be visited on guided tours.
Memphis. Brooks Museum.
Madonna and Child with Two Female Saints. Wood, 60 x 44.
This little devotional panel is like a scaled-down altarpiece, with the Madonna enthroned on a pedestal between two standing female martyrs. The saint with the arrow is probably Christina (or less likely Ursula). The other saint, crowned and holding a martyr’s palm, might be Catherine of Alexandria. Signed on a cartellino attached to the pedestal base. Opinion has been divided over whether it is a comparatively early autograph work or a late product of Cima’s workshop. Once in a private collection in Paris, it was acquired by Kress in 1954 from Contini Bonacossi; at Memphis since 1961.
Miglionico (near Matera in Basilicata). San Francesco.
Eighteen panels are arranged in four tiers in an ornate eighteenth-century frame. The central panel of the Madonna and Child (152 x 70) is signed and dated 1499 on the pedestal of the marble throne. At the sides are full-length panels of Saints Francis, Jerome, Peter and Anthony of Padua (each 112 x 42). Above these are half-lengths of Saints Clare, Louis of Toulouse, Bernardino of Siena and Catherine of Alexandria (each 45 x 43). The Ecce Homo in the central pinnacle (68 x 65) is flanked by the Virgin and Angel of the Annunciation (each 51 x 55). The predella contains four small roundels (each 31 x 21/35) of Franciscan 'Protomartyrs' killed on a mission to Morocco in 1220. (All hold palm branches and have knives embedded in their skulls.) Finally, a fifth Franciscan 'Protomartyr' (St Berard of Carbio?) and St Bonaventure are represented in small panels attached to the sides of the frame. Substantial workshop intervention seems likely (particularly in the predella and other minor panels), but the central panel of the Madonna in a river landscape is very fine.
The original location of the altarpiece is unknown; the choice of saints and the old-fashioned polyptych format suggest that it was a provincial Franciscan church. It is said to have been acquired in 1598 by the parish priest Don Marcantonio Mazzone. (According to one version, he bought it in Venice from Principe Francesco Gonzaga; according to another, he got it in Leipzig.) It was subsequently pulled to pieces, but reassembled in 1782 in a new frame. It was not published as a work of Cima until 1907 (by Martin Wackernagel in L’Arte). In was previously in rather poor condition. It was restored at the time of the 1962 Cima exhibition at Treviso and again in 1964, when decaying panels were strengthened and old repaint (perhaps dating from 1782) was removed. The polyptych was removed from the church after the 1980 earthquake, but was returned after restoration work on the frame in 1989-90 and 1997. It is now protected by glass doors.
*St Peter Martyr with SS. Nicholas and Benedict. Wood, 330 x 216.
The Dominican saint – a cleaver in his skull, a dagger in his heart, and holding a martyr's palm – stands on a pedestal under a Renaissance arch. St Nicholas of Bari, on the left, holds his three golden balls. St Benedict, on the right, wears the black habit of the Benedictines. A boy angel, seated at the foot of the pedestal, plucks a bass viol. The landscape of lakes and mountains includes exquisite details. A shepherd, watching his flock, plays bagpipes (left), and a mounted nobleman is on a road with an armed guard (right). Signed on the cartellino attached to the base of the pedestal. From the Dominican church of Corpus Domini at Venice, where it hung over the third altar on the right. It is the only picture by Cima to be mentioned by Vasari in his extremely brief reference to the artist. Commissioned in the will, dated November 1504, of Benedetto Carlone, a spice merchant, to hang over the altar dedicated to St Peter Martyr. A total of 80 ducats was allocated for the picture and for columns and metal candlesticks for the altar. The flanking saints are the name saints of Benedetto Carlone and his father Nicolo. The picture was probably executed in 1505-6, when payments are recorded to two masons for carving the stone frame. Cima’s depiction of St Peter Martyr is very like Giovanni Bellini’s in a panel at Bari. The picture was consigned to the Brera when the convent of Corpus Domini (which was near the present railway station) was closed in 1810.
*Madonna with SS. John the Baptist, Mary Magdalene, Sebastian and Roch. Canvas (transferred), 301 x 211.
From the Duomo at Oderzo (some 30 km from Treviso). Signed on the cartellino. Commissioned by the Scuola di San Giovanni Battista, whose members are shown, smaller than the sacred figures, kneeling at the sides of the throne. The men, on the left, are introduced to the Christ Child by John the Baptist. The women, on the right, are introduced to the Virgin by Mary Magdalene. The two plague saints, Sebastian and Roch, are included at the sides of the picture. Taken to Milan in 1811 and transferred from panel to canvas. In bad condition: abraded and much repainted. The top may originally have been arched. A very early work, perhaps dating from the late 1480s. (At the end of the nineteenth century, the date ‘149?’ was read on the picture, but there is no trace of any date now.)
St Peter between SS. John the Baptist and Paul. Canvas (transferred), 156 x 146.
St Peter, dressed as a pontiff and with the Keys of Heaven lying at his feet, is seated on a sumptuous canopied marble throne. A child angel sits at the base of the throne playing a lute. A youthful, curly-headed Baptist stands on the left. The banderole attached to his crucifix is inscribed with a quotation from St John's Gospel: 'I am the voice of one crying [in the wilderness]'. St Paul, with sword and book, is on the right. From the Franciscan convent of Santa Maria Mater Domini at Conegliano. It is Cima’s last recorded work, probably painted in 1516, when a payment (19 August) by the prioress to the artist is recorded. Cima’s total fee was seventy ducats. The convent was closed in 1806. The picture was damaged on its journey to Milan and was transferred to canvas shortly after its acquisition by the new Brera Gallery in 1811.
Saint Jerome. Wood, 37 x 30.
The penitent saint, leaning against a ledge of rock in the foreground of a mountainous landscape, meditates on a crucifix attached to a tree and clutches a stone with which he beat his breast. The open book attests to his scholarship. This small, meticulously detailed panel came from the church of San Giorgio Maggiore at Venice. Marco Boschini (1664), who saw it in the sacristy there, ascribed it to Lamberti (Pasqualino); but modern critics have judged it to be a work of Cima, painted in the 1490s. Acquired by Brera in 1809.
Two small panels. Wood, each 30 x 25.
Also from San Giorgio Maggiore. One panel represents St Luke, the Virgin, St John the Baptist and St Mark; the other SS. Clare, Jerome, Nicholas and Ursula. Possibly from a predella, and usually ascribed to Cima’s workshop.
St Giustina (76 x 39); SS. Gregory (76 x 20); St Ambrose (76 x 20).
Together with panels of SS. Jerome and Augustine (Accademia, Venice), these three panels once formed part of a polyptych in the convent of Santa Giustina at Venice. All five panels are usually ascribed to Cima’s workshop.
Madonna. Canvas (transferred), 52 x 42.
This damaged picture is from the church of Santa Maria Mater Domini at Conegliano. Sometimes ascribed to Cima’s studio, but for Humfrey (1983) possibly an autograph late work.
Milan. Museo Poldi Pezzoli.
Bacchus and Ariadne. Wood, 28 x 70.
Bacchus married Ariadne on the island of Naxos, where she had been abandoned by Theseus. The two are shown riding on a gilded chariot drawn by panthers, accompanied by a maenad and a satyr carrying thyrsi (poles tipped with pine cones and entwined with ivy and vines) and followed by a goat-eared man with a basket of grapes. A fragment of a panel that probably decorated the front of a chest (cassone or cassa). The Silenus and the Bacchic Faun in Philadelphia are fragments from the same chest (or pair of chests). Acquired in 1907.
Theseus and the Minotaur. Wood, 38 x 31.
The minotaur is shown with a human head and bull’s body (and not with a bull’s head and human body as in the legend). The labyrinth is imaginatively represented as a building of spiral corridors open to the sky. One of the short sides of a cassone. One of the long sides (38 x 89), representing Theseus at the Court of King Minos, is in a Swiss private collection. The two panels (which were displayed together in the 2010 Cima da Conegliano: Poeta del Paesaggio exhibition held at Conegliano) have been dated, stylistically, to the late 1490s or early 1500s, when pagan subjects were still comparatively rare in Venetian painting. The Theseus and the Minotaur was acquired by the Brera from Finarte, the Milan auction house, in 1972 and placed on loan with the Poldi Pezzoli.
Female Head. Wood, 25 x 18.
Possibly a fragment of a much larger composition – a full-length painting of a saint (perhaps Cecilia or Catherine) or sacra conversazione. However, no halo is visible, and it is conceivable that the panel represents an idealised female. The panel was acquired in 1889 in a very damaged state, with the bottom part missing. It was radically restored by the famous Bergamasque restorer Luigi Cavenaghi, who grafted a new piece of panel onto the bottom of the original wooden support, reconstructed the chin, neck and shoulders, and painted an imitation craquelure over the surface.
Daniel in the Lions’ Den. Wood, 47 x 33.
According to the Old Testament story, the Persian King Darius condemned the devout Daniel to spend a night in a lions' den for worshipping God rather than him (Book of Daniel 6: 1-28). The small panel is painted in shell gold, simulating gilt bronze. It was probably inspired by Mantegna’s grisaille paintings of the 1490s and early 1500s (such as the Judith and Dido at Montreal and the Sibyl and Prophet at Cincinnati). It may originally have been let into the wood panelling of a room or have decorated a piece of furniture. It has been suggested that the patron might have been the Venetian patrician Daniele Renier, who helped to pay for Cima’s Este Madonna of 1504. Restored in 2013.
Minneapolis. Institute of Arts.
Virgin and Child. Wood, 23 x 19.
The only one of Cima’s many Madonnas to show the Virgin praying over the sleeping Child – a motif that appears frequently in the work of Bellini and the Vivarini. This well-preserved little panel was probably painted for a household altar. It may date from the early 1500s. Given to the Institute in 1955 by the heirs of Mrs and Mrs Frederic W. Clifford.
Modena. Galleria Estense.
Lamentation with SS. Francis and Bernardino. Wood, 136 x 107.
The scene is placed outside the mouth of the rock-cut tomb. The dead Christ, seated on a ledge of rock, is supported by John the Evangelist, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. The ashen-faced Virgin Mary, who has fainted with Christ's hand resting in her lap, is tended by Mary Magdalene and either Mary Salome or Mary Cleopas. St Francis and St Bernardino of Siena stand as spectators at the sides. Calvary, with the three crosses and a crowd of spectators and mounted soldiers, is depicted on the distant hill to the right. The picture was probably commissioned around 1495 by Alberto Pio (1475-1531), humanist lord of Carpi, as the altarpiece for his funerary chapel in San Niccolò at Carpi. Traditionally, Nicodemus is a portrait of Alberto. There is no record of the picture leaving the church; but it was almost certainly taken by Francesco I d’Este, Duke of Modena, who extracted many altarpieces from local churches in the 1630s and 1640s. It is recorded in a 1663 Este inventory in the casino of Giacomo Monti.
Moscow. Pushkin Museum.
Lamentation. Canvas (transferred from panel in 1880), 199 x 148.
From the convent of Santa Maria dei Carmini in Venice, where it is recorded in the chapter house in 1664. The Carmelite standing on the right could be the donor, the prior, or a Carmelite saint (such as Simon Stock or Albert of Trapani). A late work, probably designed by Cima but executed by an assistant. Cima’s collaborator was possibly Andrea Busati, who signed a picture (now in the National Gallery, London) that repeats fairly exactly the group of figures. Sold by the Carmini in 1799 to a French collector (Giraldon). Acquired in Venice in 1856 by the Russian nobleman Count Sergei Grigoryevich Stroganoff, whose descendant Count Gregori Stroganoff bequeathed it with other pictures in 1912 to the Hermitage in St Petersburg.
Christ Enthroned. Wood, 20 x 15.
This tiny panel is composed like a monumental altarpiece. It may have been the central part of a predella. Formerly in the collection of Count Friedrich von Pourtalès, German ambassador to the Tsar's court at St Petersburg, and later that of the artist Osip Emmanuilovich Braz. It passed to the Hermitage after the Russian Revolution and was transferred to the Pushkin Museum in 1928.
Munich. Alte Pinakothek.
Madonna with SS. Mary Magdalene and Jerome. Wood, 80 x 123.
There is a similar picture (with John the Baptist substituted for the Magdalen) at Washington. Usually dated about 1496. Once in the Manin collection at Venice and the collection of the Empress Josephine at Malmaison. Acquired in 1836.
New York. Metropolitan Museum.
Virgin and Child with St Francis and St Clare. Wood, 20 x 27.
This little panel was once ascribed to Giovanni Bellini (whose false signature on the parapet was painted over in the early twentieth century but has reappeared with cleaning). It is probably a late work (after 1510). Once in the collection of the wealthy poet Samuel Rogers, it was sold at Christie’s in 1856 for £38 17s and again in 1879 for £46 14s 6d. By 1916, it had been acquired by the German-born banker George Blumenthal, a major benefactor and eventually President of the Metropolitan Museum, who bequeathed it in 1941. Exceptionally well preserved.
Three Saints. Canvas (transferred from panel), 128 x 122.
Anthony Abbot in the centre (with a little bell for alms hanging from the handle of his Tau-cross-shaped crutch); Roch on the left (exposing the ulcer on his leg); and Lucy on the right (with martyr’s palm and oil lamp). St Anthony was regarded as a healer, St Roch was a protector of plague victims and St Lucy was a patron of the blind. It seems likely, therefore, that the picture was painted for a congregation (such as the Hospital Brothers of St Anthony) responsible for ministering to the sick. It is generally regarded as a late work, painted with substantial studio assistance. It has a distinguished provenance, having been in the collection of the Empress Josephine at Malmaison (as a work of Bellini) and later that of her son Eugène de Beauharnais, Viceroy of Italy. From 1843 to 1904 it was in the Duke of Leuchtenberg’s collection at Munich and St Petersburg; acquired by the Metropolitan Museum in 1907. It has suffered from the transfer from panel to canvas and may have been cut down.
New York. Pierpont Morgan Library.
Virgin and Child with SS. John the Baptist and Catherine. Wood, 65 x 98.
Signed on the cartellino attached to the marble parapet. A late work. There are similar paintings, with different flanking saints, in the New York Metropolitan Museum, Cleveland Museum of Art and Chicago Art Institute (on loan from the Barber Welfare Foundation). The provenance can be traced back to 1774, when the picture was sold by the Swiss artist and dealer Jean-Etienne Liotard at Christie’s for 16 guineas as a work of ‘C. da Congliare’. Later owners included Mrs Watts-Russell (grandmother of the art historian John Pope-Hennessy) and the Pre-Raphaelite painter and dealer Charles Fairfax Murray. Acquired by Pierpont Morgan in 1911.
Nivå (Denmark). Nivaagaards Museum.
Madonna and Child with Two Saints. Wood, 72 x 102.
St Ursula on the left, holding an arrow; St Francis on the right with a cross. The painting – one of Cima's many half-length sacre conversazioni – probably dates from around the mid-1490s. Acquired in 1900 by the Danish businessman, landowner, politician and philanthropist Johannes Hage, who opened his mansion as the Nivaagaards Museum in 1908.
Olera (Alzano Lombardo, Province of Bergamo). Parish church (San Bartolomeo).
This polyptych is still in situ over the high altar of the parish church. Well preserved and retaining its original frame, it comprises nine gold-ground panels arranged around a niche containing a wooden statue of St Bartholomew by an unknown sculptor. The four panels in the lower tier (136 x 47) show full-length figures of Saints Sebastian (bound to a column and pierced with arrows), Peter (with book and key), John the Baptist (with slender cross and tiny model of a lamb) and Roch (pointing to the plague ulcer on his thigh). The four panels in the upper tier (57 x 46) show half-length figures of Saints Catherine (with martyr's palm and fragment of her spiked wheel), Jerome (clutching a stone in one hand and a crucifix in the other), Francis (with crucifix) and Lucy (with martyr's palm and lamp). The pinnacle (86 x 69) shows the Madonna, half-length, with the naked Child standing on a marble parapet and blessing the viewer.
The polyptych is recorded in the church from 1547, but early sources make no mention of the artist, the patron or the date. It was only towards the end of the nineteenth century, after attributions to Alvise Vivarini and to Francesco da Santa Croce, that it was recognised as a work of Cima. An early work and the only one by Cima with a gold ground. It may be about contemporary with, or possibly slightly pre-date, the Vicenza altarpiece of 1489. By this time, the polyptych form of altarpiece was old fashioned in Venice, but still enjoyed some popularity in the provinces. The whole polyptych – painted panels, statue and frame – was restored in 2002.
Ornica (30 km north of Bergamo). Parish church (Sant'Ambrogio).
The large polyptych remains intact in its original carved and gilded frame. It has been attributed to Cima's workshop, but the quality is not very high. The centre panel of the main tier shows St Ambrose enthroned as Bishop of Milan. He holds a scourge, symbolising the penance he imposed on the Emperor Theodosius. The four side panels depict full-length saints: Anthony Abbot (with his bell and tau-shaped staff), John the Baptist (gesturing towards St Ambrose), Peter (with key and book) and ?Mark (with pen and book). The second tier has the Virgin and Child in the centre and half-lengths of St Catherine, ?St John the Evangelist, St James the Great and St Clare at the sides. The third tier shows the Dead Christ between the Angel and Virgin of the Annunciation. A semi-circular pinnacle depicts God the Father releasing the dove of the Holy Spirit. For the figure of St Ambrose enthroned at the centre of the polyptych, Cima's workshop appears to have reused a drawing made for another work. The highly finished brush and ink drawing, preserved in the British Royal Collection, is for a vertical sacra conservazione altarpiece rather than a polyptych.
*Madonna with SS. John the Baptist and Mary Magdalene. Wood, 170 x 110.
The Virgin appears to be enthroned on a terrace with a balustrade, which overlooks a landscape of lakes and mountains. A richly patterned and unusually long cloth of honour hangs behind the throne. The Baptist holds his scroll inscribed ECCE AGNUS DEI, and Mary Magdalene has her jar of ointment. Signed on the cartellino attached to the throne. From the convent of San Domenico at Parma, and one of three altarpieces painted by Cima in the city. The convent housed a closed order of Dominican nuns and there are no early references to the picture, which is probably a late work of about 1511-13. Plundered by the French in 1803.
Virgin and Child. Wood, 71 x 48.
The signature (in the centre of the parapet) is a later addition. Usually classed a studio work. There are superior versions (with different backgrounds) in the London National Gallery, the Los Angeles County Museum and the museum at Raleigh. Bequeathed in 1914 by Baron Basile de Schlichting. X-rays reveal that the curtain behind the Virgin was painted over a landscape with buildings.
Paris. Musée Jacquemart-André.
Virgin and Child. Wood, 43 x 33.
This tender picture, with the Virgin poignantly resting her cheek against the Child’s head, is probably an early work. It has been cut down, and there was probably originally a parapet at the bottom. Previously repainted, its high quality was revealed by cleaning in 1979. Acquired by Edouard André in 1877 from Giuseppe Bertini (Director of the Brera).
Paris. Musée du Petit Palais.
Madonna and Child. Wood, 73 x 56.
There are many versions of this composition by Cima, his workshop or immediate followers, including one signed and dated 1496 in the Museo Civico at Gemona. Cima's signature on the parapet has been altered to resemble one by Giovanni Bellini. Once in the Albani collection at Bergamo (where it was seen in 1855 by the National Gallery's travelling agent Otto Mündler) and the Paris collection of Sir William Neville Abdy (where it was seen and sketched in 1885 by the English art historian Joseph Archer Crowe). Given to the museum in 1921 by the American businessman Edward Tuck and his wife Julia Snell.
Parma. Galleria Nazionale.
*Madonna with SS. Michael and Andrew. Wood, 197 x 136.
One of three altarpieces painted by Cima for churches or convents in Parma. The highly original composition replaces the conventional frontal viewpoint by an oblique setting. The Virgin sits among the ruins of a classical temple, resting the Child on a pilaster; on the left a youthful Michael the Archangel with spear and scales; and on the right an aged and sorrowful St Andrew with the cross. The precious marble inlay on the ruins resembles that on the Venetian church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, built in the 1480s. In the left distance is a view of Conegliano. From the church of Santissima Annunziata, the Observant Franciscan church in Parma, where it was ascribed to Dürer. It may date from the late 1490s. It was sold in 1706 to Count Sanvitale and attributed to Leonardo. It entered the gallery with the Sanvitale collection in 1834.
*Madonna and Six Saints ('Pala Montini'). Wood, 208 x 125.
The Virgin is enthroned in a semi-circular apse, under a gold mosaic depicting God the Father between the Virgin and St Bartholomew. She blesses the doctor saints, Cosmas and Damian, who are introduced to her by John the Baptist. On the right, St Apollonia (whose pincers rest on the pedestal of the throne), St Catherine (with a piece of her spiked wheel) and an elderly male saint with a book and pen (John the Evangelist or Paul?) are blessed by the Christ Child, who sits astride his mother's knee. On the step of the throne is a charming angel with a viol. From the chapel of Canon Bartolomeo Montini, in the right transept of Parma Cathedral. The canon’s tomb, which is still in the chapel, is inscribed with the date 1507, which is probably the approximate date of Cima’s altarpiece. The composition was probably influenced by Giovanni Bellini’s San Zaccaria Altarpiece of 1505. Taken to Paris in 1803 and returned in 1815.
*Endymion Sleeping; Judgement of Midas. Wood, each 25 in dia.
One tondo shows the moon (Selene or Diana) falling in love with the beautiful shepherd-prince Endymion as he sleeps on Mount Latmos. The other shows King Midas growing asses’ ears as punishment for preferring Pan to Apollo in a musical contest. Both subjects allude to Poetry and Music. The two small tondi, painted on very thin poplar panels, may originally have decorated the front of a chest or, conceivably, the lid of a harpsichord or spinet. They are recorded (already framed as independent pictures) in a 1661 inventory of the art collection of the Prati family at Parma, and were probably painted for Bartolomeo Prati, a distinguished jurist, who also commissioned Correggio’s Ecce Homo in the National Gallery, London. Prati married Margherita Brugnoli in 1501, which is a possible date for the commission of the Cima panels (though most opinion has placed them somewhat later). Acquired by the Parma gallery in 1851 from the Rosa Prati family.
Pavia. Musei Civici (Pinacoteca Malaspina).
Christ the Redeemer. Wood, 18 x 14.
The tiny panel depicts Christ standing in a landscape. He holds a chalice in his left hand and raises his right hand in blessing. The picture surface has been badly abraded by harsh cleaning. Repaint, concealing the damage, was removed in a 1953 restoration. The panel is recorded as a work of Cima in the collection of Marchese Luigi Malaspina, which was bequeathed to the Belle Arti in 1838. A dating around 1500 has been suggested.
Philadelphia. Museum of Art (J. G. Johnson Collection).
Virgin and Child. Wood, 60 x 48.
Signed on the marble parapet. Probably early (mid-1480s). The picture, once in the Manfrin collection at Venice, was acquired by Johnson in 1910 from the dealer Grassi. The same landscape, thought to represent Conegliano, is found in Madonnas in London (National Gallery, no. 300) and elsewhere. There are also many inferior variants with similar figures but different backgrounds. One in the Statens Museum of Art at Copenhagen was originally attributed to Cima but is now given to Girolamo da Udine. Another was 'deaccessioned' by the Metropolitan Museum, New York, in 1956. Yet another was sold, as a Cima, at the Dorotheum, Vienna, in April 2015.
Silenus and Satyrs (31 x 41); Bacchic Faun (24 x 20).
Two fragments, probably from a chest (cassone or cassa). The larger fragment shows the drunken Silenus drinking wine from a gourd while riding a donkey. He is accompanied by three satyrs (one whipping the donkey with a branch, another holding a thyrsus and eyeing the wine gourd, and the third playing a pipe made from a sea shell). The smaller fragment depicts a faun carrying a wine barrel. A still smaller fragment in a French private collection shows a faun (Pan?) playing pipes.
The background detail of Theseus's ship sailing into the distance suggests that the Silenus fragment formed a single scene with the Bacchus and Ariadne in the Poldi Pezzoli Museum, Milan. The long panel could have formed the front of a chest, while the two smaller fragments could have come from the panels at the sides of the chest. An alternative reconstruction involves two chest fronts – one with the single panel of Bacchus and Ariadne and the other comprising all three remaining fragments. Yet another reconstruction sees all four fragments as having come from one very long panel, with the Bacchus and Ariadne in the middle and the Faun fragments at the two ends. The two Philadelphia fragments were acquired by Johnson in 1911 and 1912. They are badly worn.
Head of St Stephen. Canvas (transferred), 33 x 28.
The saint is dressed as a deacon and holds a martyr's palm. A fragment. Acquired, apparently in 1914, from an unknown source.
Raleigh (North Carolina). Museum of Art.
*Madonna. Canvas (transferred from panel), 71 x 63.
This composition, perhaps dating from the late 1490s, was frequently repeated by Cima and his workshop, and there are other versions (sometimes with different landscape backgrounds) in the London National Gallery, the Louvre, the Hermitage, the Los Angeles County Museum, the Treviso Museo Civico, the Brera and elsewhere. The Raleigh version is considered one of the best. Confiscated from an unknown Russian aristocratic collection after the Revolution, it was one of a number of pictures sold by the Soviet government in Berlin in 1928 to obtain foreign exchange. Acquired by the Raleigh museum in 1952.
St Petersburg. Hermitage.
*Annunciation. Canvas (transferred from panel in 1873), 137 x 107.
The scene appears to be set in a chamber on the upper floor of a Renaissance palazzo. Behind the Virgin, kneeling at her prie-dieu, is a luxurious canopied bed, the posts of which are decorated with delicate intarsia work and carved Corinthian capitals. The Hebrew inscription along the top of the canopy is from the Book of Isaiah (‘Behold, a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel’). A large biforate window affords views of a domed Renaissance church and a hilltop town (Conegliano?). The picture was an altarpiece from the church of Santa Maria dei Crociferi (now Gesuiti) at Venice. It was painted for the chapel of the Arte dei Setaioli (silk weavers) of Lucca, to the left of the high altar. The inscription on the cartellino gives the names of five members of the Scuola and the date 1495. The winged insect might be a guild emblem (though it resembles a wasp rather than silk moth). The picture was transferred first to the Scuola della Misericordia and later placed in the Scuola dei Rosario at Santi Giovanni e Paolo, whence it was purchased in about 1815 by Prince Golitsin of St Petersburg. It was acquired by the Hermitage in 1886 from the Golitsin Museum in Moscow. The composition seems to depend on Giovanni Bellini’s organ shutters for the Miracoli (now in the Accademia). The Annunciation is sometimes thought to have been flanked by side panels, representing St Sebastian and St Mark, now in the National Gallery, London. Twice transferred in the nineteenth century, the colours have faded somewhat and lost their resonance. A major restoration was completed in 2011.
Madonna and Child. Canvas, 65 x 53.
The design of the Madonna and Child (though not the background) also occurs in paintings by Cima and/or his workshop in London, Raleigh, Los Angeles, Paris, Treviso, Milan and elsewhere. Despite the signature (partly effaced, bottom right), the Hermitage version has sometimes been ascribed to Cima’s shop. The Virgin’s face is repainted. Once owned by the Duke of Leuchtenberg, the painting entered the Hermitage in 1920 from the Kochubey collection at Petrograd.
Madonna with SS. Peter and Anthony Abbot. Canvas (transferred), 42 x 59.
Probably late (about 1510). Acquired in 1772 from the Crozat collection as by Giovanni Bellini; recognised as a Cima by Crowe and Cavalcaselle (1871). A strip of canvas, some 8 cm wide, has been added to the top.
Saint Jerome. Wood, 18 x 13.
This tiny panel came to the Hermitage in 1921 (as by Marco Basaiti), but was not published until 1992, when it was included as a work of Cima in the gallery’s catalogue of Venetian paintings. The figure of the saint resembles that in the signed Saint Jerome in the Wilderness at Washington.
San Fior di Sopra (5 km from Conegliano). San Giovanni Battista.
Polyptych of St John the Baptist. Wood.
The polyptych is over the high altar of the parish church (which was rebuilt in the early twentieth century). The centre panel (197 x 87) shows the Baptist standing on a rock, holding a slender cross and pointing the way to Christ. The two lower wings (140 x 63) show full-length figures of St Peter and St Lawrence (left) and the bishops St Fiorenzo and St Vendemiale (right). The smaller wings above them (57 x 63) have half-lengths of St Bartholomew and St Urban (left) and St Blaise and St Giustina (right). The Baptist is the patron saint of San Fior di Sopra and the other seven saints are patrons of neighbouring parishes. The three scenes in the predella (the Baptist Preaching, Herod’s Feast and the Beheading of the Baptist) are attributed either to Cima's workshop or to a later copyist (Silvestro de' Arnosti da Ceneda). The original frame was destroyed when the village was bombarded in 1917. (The replacement, neo-Renaissance one was designed in 1925 by the distinguished architect Ferdinando Forlati.) Early twentieth-century writers tended to have a poor opinion of the altarpiece, but it has been more highly regarded since restoration in 1945. (There were subsequent treatments in 1962 and 1993.) It probably dates from the first decade of the sixteenth century. Lorenzo Lotto’s polyptych of 1508 at Recanati is of similar general design.
San Francisco. Fine Arts Museum.
Virgin and Child (‘Quincy Shaw Madonna’). Wood, 60 x 44.
This melancholy Madonna is mentioned in 1717 in the will of Niccolò Doglioni, son of Lucrezia Cima, the painter’s last descendant. It is usually regarded as close in date to the Madonna of 1504 at Este. It is often still called the ‘Quincy Shaw Madonna’ after the Boston philanthropist and collector, who acquired it in 1875 from a Pietro Fabris of Conegliano. It was subsequently with Quincy Shaw’s heirs, then with Wildenstein of New York and then in a San Francisco private collection. Acquired by the museum in 1981. Some half-dozen replicas and variants are known, including one in the Walters Art Galley in Baltimore and another in the Castelvecchio Museum in Verona.
Strasbourg. Musée des Beaux-Arts.
St Sebastian; St Roch. Wood, each 116 x 48/7.
St Roch, dressed as a pilgrim, displays the ulcer on his thigh. St Sebastian is shown against a view of Rome, the Castel Sant'Angelo (complete with the statue of the Archangel Michael) clearly recognisable on the left. The wings of a triptych from the church of San Rocco at Mestre; the centre panel and lunette are in the Wallace Collection, London. The altarpiece was almost certainly commissioned by the Scuola di San Rocco, a confraternity concerned with the plague, and Sebastian and Roch were saints very commonly invoked for protection against epidemics. The altarpiece, which had left the church by the end of the eighteenth century, was exported to England and later broken up. The wings were bought for the museum in 1890 by Wilhelm Bode from Sir Anthony Stirling of London. Rather abraded, probably as a result of harsh cleaning in the distant past.
Treviso. Museo Civico.
Madonna. Wood, 72 x 53.
Exhibited as by ‘Cima and workshop’, but probably executed entirely by an assistant. There are superior versions in London (National Gallery), Raleigh (North Carolina Museum of Art) and Los Angeles (County Museum). Bequeathed to the Venice Accademia in 1850; on loan to the Treviso Museum since 1952.
Treviso. San Leonardo.
Triptych: Virgin and Child with St Bartholomew and St Prosdocimus. Each panel, 98 x 38.
Still above the second altar on the right of the church, where it is recorded in the early eighteenth century. The altar belonged to the Scuola dei Mugnai (the Butchers’ Guild) and was dedicated to St Bartholomew and St Prosdocimus. The cartellino at the foot of the Virgin’s throne is now illegible, but is said to have borne the date 1510 (and the name of Jacopo Bellini). The panels are very damaged. They have been cut down and the triptych arrangement is modern. Called an autograph Cima by Coletti (1959), but more usually regarded as the work of an assistant or follower. .
‘Pietà’. Wood, 73 x 115.
The dead Christ, seated on a rock, is supported by Nicodemus, the Virgin and St John the Evangelist; the Maries are at the sides. Signed on a cartellino at the bottom edge. An early work, probably dating from about 1490 and evidently inspired by Giovanni Bellini’s many paintings of this subject. One of twenty-nine paintings donated to the Accademia in 1850 by Felicita Bertrand Helliman, widow of Count Bernardino Renier.
*‘Madonna dell’Arancio’. Wood, 212 x 139.
Signed on a cartellino (paper scroll) attached to the rock beneath the Virgin’s feet. The picture probably dates from the middle or late 1490s. It takes its name from the orange tree (a symbol of purity) behind the Virgin. On the left, St Jerome as a penitent hermit, holding the stone for beating his breast; on the right, St Louis of Toulouse, with a bishop’s cope over his Franciscan habit. The presence of the little St Joseph with the ass to the left of the tree suggests that the subject is the ‘Flight into Egypt’. The Virgin and Child, and the rocky platform on which they sit, are repeated almost exactly in a beautiful little Sacra Conversazione in the Gulbenkian Museum at Lisbon. The leaves of every tree (olive, citrus and oak), plant and flower (the ivy climbing up the rocky platform and the columbine, dandelion and violet growing in the stony foreground) are meticulously described. The pair of red-legged partridges strutting in the bottom left foreground can be interpreted as a symbol either of evil and treachery (Jeremiah 17: 11) or of truth and the Church. A stag (possibly a symbol of Christ) and white rabbit (perhaps a symbol of rebirth and resurrection) appear on the far left, and a dog (a symbol of fidelity) is seated at the right edge.
The picture was painted for the high altar of Santa Chiara, the convent church of the Observant Franciscan nuns on the island of Murano. The church was closed in 1826 and converted into a glass factory and warehouse (the building is now used by Murano’s Glass Museum). Cima’s altarpiece was taken to Vienna (Hof Museum) in 1816 but returned to Venice after the First World War. A highly finished study or cartoon for the head of St Jerome – exquisitely drawn with the point of a brush in brown ink, heightened with white, on blue paper – is preserved in the British Museum.
*Madonna and Six Saints ('Pala Dragan'). Wood, 412 x 210.
The Virgin is enthroned under a Renaissance arch between six saints. The two female saints have no identifying attributes apart from their martyr's palms, but are usually called Catherine and Lucy. The other saints are George (in armour, holding a spear and with his other hand on the hilt of his sword), Nicholas of Bari (with his three golden balls resting on a book), Anthony Abbot (with tau-shaped staff and bell) and Sebastian (pierced with arrows). Two boy angels, seated on the step of the throne, play a viol and lute. This large altarpiece was ordered by Giorgio Dragan, a Venetian ship-owner, for his family chapel in the church of Santa Maria della Carità. It probably dates from the late 1490s (Dragan died in 1499). St George is traditionally supposed to be a portrait of the patron. The chapel and the altarpiece’s marble frame were designed and sculpted by Cristoforo Solari of Milan. The church was closed in Napoleonic times and the chapel demolished (the church’s buildings are now occupied by the Accademia Galleries). Restoration in 2005 removed discoloured varnish and old repaint and retouched holes caused by an old termite infestation.
*Incredulity of Thomas. Wood, 215 x 151.
Christ stands between the doubting Thomas (who places his finger in the wound in Christ's side) and St Magnus of Anagni (a semi-legendary second-century bishop and martyr). Figures and landscape are framed within a realistic loggia of polychrome marble. St Thomas and St Magnus were patrons of the Scuola dei Mureri (Stonemasons’ Guild), and the picture originally hung over the Scuola’s altar in the church of San Samuele at Venice. It was probably painted shortly after the larger picture of the same subject in the National Gallery, London, which is dated 1504. Transferred from the church to the Accademia in 1829. The original frame is lost. (The marks left on the panel suggest the frame was classical in design and probably stone.)
Madonna with the Baptist and St Paul. Wood, 82 x 122.
Probably a mature work of the early 1500s, and possibly the picture described in 1648 by Ridolfi in the house of Bortolo Dolfin. St Paul’s sword hilt is decorated with a tiny relief representing the Continence of Scipio. Given to the Accademia by Girolamo Contarini in 1838.
Lion of St Mark and Four Saints. Canvas, 205 x 510.
The winged lion, one paw on the Gospels, stands on the seashore between SS. John the Baptist (holding a tiny lamb on a book), John the Evangelist (with his Gospel), Mary Magdalene (with her jar of ointment) and Jerome (studying the scriptures). This huge, five-metre-wide banner is from the Palazzo Camerlenghi, by the Rialto Bridge, where it was described by Marco Boschini in the seventeenth century as a work of Giovanni Buonsiglio. It was taken to Vienna in 1838 and returned to Venice in 1919. Until 1979 it was exhibited in the Ca d’Oro. The execution is probably largely by Cima’s workshop. The paint has gone from the bottom left corner and much of the bottom edge.
Tobias and the Angel and two Saints. Canvas (transferred), 162 x 178.
The Archangel Raphael leads the young Tobias, who holds the fish that was to cure his father’s blindness, on his epic journey. St James stands reading on the left holding a pilgrim’s staff. St Nicholas of Bari stands on the right holding three golden balls and bishop’s crosier. Conegliano’s castle is just visible on a hill in the left distance. Signed on the little hillock on which Raphael and Tobias stand. A late work (around 1515): the prominence given to landscape may reflect Giorgione’s influence. From Santa Maria Valverde (or della Misericordia), a church in a remote part of Cannaregio that was closed in 1868. The church owned relics of St Nicholas, and St James was one of its patron saints. The picture, bought by the Italian state in 1884, was damaged when transferred from panel to canvas in 1888 and numerous paint losses are concealed by restoration. A second transfer was made in 1962, when some of the old repaint was removed. A substantial strip of paint along the bottom edge is completely lost, removing part of the saints' feet and the little dog's legs.
Saint Augustine; Saint Jerome. Wood, each 74 x 25.
From the convent of Santa Giustina, where the two panels formed a polyptych with three others now in the Brera. Usually ascribed to Cima’s workshop.
St Mark enthroned with SS. Andrew and Louis of Toulouse, Justice and Temperance. Canvas, 225 x 509.
This enormous canvas was described in the seventeenth century by Boschini in the Doge’s Palace, where it hung in the Sala dell'Armamento (armory). St Mark represents Venice, while Justice and Temperance personify the Republic's virtues. St Andrew and St Louis were probably the name saints of the state officials who commissioned the painting. A parrot and swallow perch on the bottom step of the throne, a pheasant stands on the tiled floor in front of St Andrew, and a partridge stands on the grass behind. The extensive landscape represents the Venetian empire on land and sea. The central group of three saints was cut out and taken to Vienna in 1838. It was returned in 1919, and the whole canvas was reassembled in 1930. It was exhibited in the Ca d’Oro until 1979. Usually regarded as a late work, executed mainly by Cima’s workshop. Restored in 2006.
Venice. Museo Correr.
Madonna and Child with St Nicholas of Bari and St Lawrence. Wood, 65 x 90.
This is obviously a very damaged picture, with perhaps one quarter of the surface now reduced to bare wood. However, the remaining paint appears to be largely free of restoration. The Virgin's face is almost intact. Probably a late work.
Venice. Ca d'Oro. Galleria Franchetti.
Madonna and Child between Two Saints. Wood, 58 x 88.
The saint with a long beard has been called Jerome and the female saint with her arms crossed on her breast has been called Mary Magdalene, but neither identification is certain. The design of the Virgin and Child is repeated from the signed Bergamo Madonna. Probably a late product of Cima's workshop.
Venice. Ca' Rezzonico. Mestrovich Collection.
Dead Christ. Wood, 22 x 16.
This tiny panel, once in the Correr collection, has been attributed to Cima since the late nineteenth century. It may originally have formed the door of a church tabernacle. The figure of the dead Christ, seated on the edge of the tomb, is similar to that in other works by (or attributed to) Cima), including a panel (almost equally small) in the Birmingham City Art Gallery and a pinnacle of the polyptych at Miglionico. The sixteen paintings donated to the Commune of Venice by Ferruccio Mestrovich have been housed since 2001 in the Browning Mezzanine of the Ca' Rezzonico.
God the Father. Wood, 12 x 27.
This small lunette, showing God the Father releasing the dove of the Holy Spirit, was probably the top of an altarpiece representing the Annunciation. It entered the Seminario in 1829 with the Manfredini collection.
Madonna and Child. Wood, 51 x 41.
A near replica – inferior in quality and with a different background – of the Madonna at Este. Perhaps from the collection of Giannantonio Moschini, a Somascan priest and distinguished art historian who taught at the seminary in the early nineteenth century.
Venice. Madonna d’Orto.
*St John the Baptist with SS. Paul, Jerome, Mark and Peter. Wood, 305 x 205.
The saints stand under the open vault of a ruined classical building in an idyllic landscape. The gaunt figure of the Baptist seems to be based on Donatello's famous wooden statue in the Frari. The plants in the foreground are described by Ruskin in a lyrical passage in Modern Painters: ‘… the oak, the fig, the beautiful Erba della Madonna [toadflax] on the wall, precisely such a bunch of it as may be seen growing at this day on the marble step of that very church; ivy and other creepers, and a strawberry plant in the foreground, with a blossom, and a berry just set, and one half ripe and one ripe, all patiently and innocently painted from the real thing, and therefore most divine’. The classical ruins and the withered tree probably represent the passing of the old pagan era, while the owl might symbolise the blindness of the Jews (who preferred darkness to light). The picture has always stood on the first altar on the right of the church and it retains its original stone frame (attributed to Sebastiano da Milano). The escutcheon on the base of the frame indicates that it was painted for one of the Saraceno dal Zio family, who were spice merchants with a shop in the San Lio district. Fairly early (dated about 1493-5 by Humfrey). Restored in 1999, when darkened varnish and old repaint were removed and the poplar panel was treated for an insect infestation. Despite some harsh attempts at cleaning in the past (St Peter's red mantle is particularly abraded), much of the picture is well preserved.
Venice. Santi Giovanni e Paolo.
Coronation of the Virgin. Canvas, 169 x 319.
Recorded in 1773 (by Zanetti) in the Scuola dei Tessitori di Panni di Seta (the Silk Weavers’ Guild) at Santa Maria della Misericordia, and moved in 1786 to the Scuola del Rosario at Santi Giovanni e Paolo. It now hangs in the right transept. The picture has been cut down (it originally had an arched top depicting God the Father) and is in poor condition. It was ascribed in the nineteenth century to Girolamo da Udine (whose only signed work is a Coronation in the Museo Civico at Udine). Restored in 1999.
Venice. San Giovanni in Bragora.
**Baptism of Christ. Wood, 350 x 210.
The picture hangs behind the high altar in its magnificent original inlaid stone frame, carved by Sebastiano Mariani, a sculptor and architect from Lugano. It is one of the earliest high altarpieces to survive in situ in a Venetian church (though it was originally placed much lower on the wall and the Mannerist double marble pediment is a later addition). It was ordered by Cristoforo Rizzo, the parish priest, on 8 December 1492, and payments for it continued until July 1495. The landscape is full of delightful detail: a ferryman rows across a river, a horseman rides towards a castle, a shepherd pipes to his flock on the hill. Some of the naturalistic detail may have a symbolic as well as decorative purpose. (For example, the tree stump with a new shoot on the bank where the Baptist stands probably symbolises the Resurrection and the weeping willow on the little island behind Christ may symbolise sorrow.) Giovanni Bellini’s Baptism of 1501-2 at Santa Corona in Vicenza bears a marked resemblance of composition to Cima’s picture. It is uncertain whether both pictures followed an earlier composition or Bellini was contracted to follow Cima’s example. Cima’s altarpiece was cleaned when the presbytery of the church was restored in 1988. Removal of repaint and old varnish showed it to be in good condition.
*St Helena and the Emperor Constantine. Wood, 140 x 73.
The Emperor Constantine and his mother St Helena stand at the sides of the True Cross, which, according to legend, St Helena discovered in the Holy Land. In the background, a distant view of Conegliano (the Palazzo del Podestà is shown damaged by a tower that fell in 1501). The picture hangs near the sacristy door. It was painted for a small altar containing a relic of the True Cross. Payments totalling 28 ducats were made to Cima between February 1501 and April 1503. The unusual predella (perhaps executed by an assistant) contains three panels (25 x 20) telling the legend of the discovery of the True Cross: St Helena announces her intention to dig for the Cross; she directs the digging; and the authenticity of the Cross is proved when a young man is raised from the dead.
Venice. Santa Maria dei Carmini
*Adoration of the Shepherds. Wood, 300 x 185.
This fine altarpiece was almost certainly commissioned in about 1509 by the cloth merchant Giovanni Calvo, whose tomb slab is in front of the altar. The shepherd kneeling in the foreground could be a portrait of Calvo. There are three saints in the picture: Catherine (the name saint of Calvo’s wife, who had died in 1508); the Archangel Raphael (the titular saint of Calvo’s parish church), who leads the young Tobias by the hand; and Helena (a saint venerated by the Carmelites), who displays the cross. The sun rises over an Arcadian landscape: a flock grazes outside castle walls; a shepherd leans against a tree playing his pipe; and a shepherd boy sleeps on a grassy bank. The picture has suffered through flaking; already in 1771, Zanetti described it as ‘much ruined by time’.
Venice. Cini Collection.
Virgin and Child. Wood, 64 x 53.
One of a number of versions and variants of a composition that may date from around 1500. A version (with a different landscape) at the National Gallery, London, is probably also autograph, while one at Bergamo is regarded as a workshop replica or a copy by Cima's pupil Antonio Maria da Carpi. In some variants (eg. the autograph picture at Cardiff and the studio work in the Gardner Museum at Boston) the composition is reversed. The Venetian paintings in the Cini collection have rarely been seen. They were exhibited to the public for the first time at the Palazzo Cini, at San Vio, in 2016.
Vicenza. Museo Civico.
*Virgin and Child with SS. James and Jerome. Wood, 214 x 179.
The Madonna is enthroned beneath a vine-wreathed pergola (symbolising the Eucharist), resting a closed book on her knee. St James the Great stands on the left with a pilgrim’s staff, reading. St Jerome, in cardinal’s robes on the right, holds up his Vulgate Bible. The altarpiece is Cima’s earliest datable picture, signed and dated 1 May 1489 on a cartellino at the base of the throne. It was painted for the Sangiovanni Chapel (second on the left) in the church of San Bartolomeo at Vicenza. The two saints are the name saints of the brothers Girolamo and Giacomo Sangiovanni, who until recently were believed to have been Cima’s patrons. It is now known that the altarpiece was commissioned by Leonardo Sangiovanni, a monk in Venice who raised money for the family chapel by preaching. Painted in tempera on finely woven linen, it is very worn in parts but preserves its fresh colour. It appears to show the influence of the local artist Bartolomeo Montagna. It may, however, have been painted in Venice (canvas being chosen as a support, in preference to the more usual panel, for ease of transport.) The faux-marble wooden frame is a nineteenth-century copy of the original.
Vittorio Veneto. Museo Diocesano.
'St Martin Triptych'. Wood.
According to the famous legend, Martin of Tours, serving in Gaul as a young cavalry officer in the Roman army, encountered a beggar at the gates of Amiens and cut his cloak in two, giving half to the beggar. That night, St Martin dreamt that Christ came to him wearing the piece of cloak he had given away. The scene of St Martin and the Beggar in the centre panel (180 x 90) is flanked by figures of John the Baptist and St Peter on the smaller side panels (each 105 x 38). From the church in the remote country parish of Navolè in the Commune of Gorgo al Monticano (some 25 km northeast of Treviso). It may be a late work (around 1510). As with other provincial commissions, Cima is likely to have left the execution mostly or entirely to his workshop. The triptych has lost its frame, and the panels are presently exhibited separately on a screen.
Warsaw. Muzeum Narodowe.
*Christ among the Doctors. Wood, 54 x 88.
Having been taken by Joseph and Mary to Jerusalem for the Passover, the twelve-year old Jesus was discovered three days later in the temple debating learnedly with the Jewish theologians (Luke 2: 41-52). Cima depicts nine rabbis forming a circle around the adolescent Christ, who enumerates his arguments on his fingers. The rabbi seated on the left appears about to tear a sheaf of pages out of his Old Testament. The design (especially the pose of Christ) is closely related to that of Albrecht Dürer’s Christ among the Doctors (now in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Madrid), which was painted in 1506. It is often assumed that Dürer’s painting was the source of Cima’s, but Cima’s may well be the earlier of the two. (Early copies of the Dürer state that it was painted in Rome, which Cima never visited.) Acquired by Counts Artus and Zofia Potocki in Venice in 1829 from the painter Natale Schiavoni as a work of Giovanni Bellini (with a false signature). Until 1946, it hung in the Baranami Palace, near Cracow. Well preserved.
Washington. National Gallery.
Madonna and Child with SS. Jerome and John the Baptist. Wood, 104 x 146.
Abraded – particularly the sky and figure of St Jerome (whose hand may originally have held a stone) – and extensively retouched. The largest of Cima’s many half-length paintings of the Virgin and Child with two flanking saints, and possibly intended as an altarpiece rather than for private devotion. It may date from the early 1490s. Once in the collection of Baron Maurizio Marochetti of Turin (son of the sculptor Carlo Marochetti). Bought in 1919 by Viscount d’Abernon (from Seligmann of Paris) on Berenson’s recommendation. Acquired by Andrew H. Melon (from Duveen) in 1936.
Saint Helena. Wood (transferred to a new panel in 1953), 42 x 34.
St Helena, wife of the Emperor Constantius Chlorus and mother of Constantine the Great, displays the True Cross she discovered in the Holy Land. This almost perfectly preserved picture was probably an independent painting rather than part of an altarpiece. The figure of the saint is very similar to that of the St Catherine in the altarpiece painted by Cima in 1492-93 for Conegliano Cathedral. The view of Conegliano in the background is almost identical with that in Madonnas in the National Gallery, London (no. 300) and elsewhere. Despite late eighteenth-century demolitions and nineteenth-century restorations, the city gate (Porta Monticiano) and bridge (Ponte della Madonna) are still recognizable, as is the Rocca on the green hill above. In the distance is the castle (Castello di San Salvatore) at Susegana. The fresh growth sprouting from the dead tree symbolises rebirth. Recorded in 1777 in an inventory of the Casa Boschi at Bologna (‘a picture of St Helena, very beautiful, well preserved and a rare thing, by Leonardo da Vinci’). The entire Boschi collection was sold in 1858, and by 1860 the Saint Helena was in the Valentina collection at Rome with an attribution to Bellini. Acquired by the Marquess of Sligo later in the nineteenth century, it passed by inheritance to Lady Isabel Mary Peyronnet Browne of Guildford, Surrey, and was acquired by Samuel H. Kress (from Knoedler of New York) in 1954.
Saint Jerome in the Wilderness. Canvas (transferred from panel), 48 x 40.
Signed on the scroll, lower right. Probably one of the latest of Cima’s several versions of this subject, and usually dated around 1500-5. Sold in London in 1827, and by 1896 in the collection of Alexander Orloff-Davidoff in St Petersburg. Sold in 1930, and briefly in the possession of Viscount Lee of Fareham. One of twenty-one paintings acquired by Kress from Contini-Bonacossi in 1935.
Wilanów Palace (Poland).
‘Pietà’. Wood, 54 x 39.
The body of the dead Christ is supported on a ledge of veined red marble by the Virgin, who cradles his head with her left hand. At the Wilanów Palace by the mid-nineteenth century (though for many years after the War it was exhibited in the National Gallery at Warsaw). Catalogued as a work of Cima of the late 1490s, but possibly by an assistant or close follower; Humfrey (1983) suggested the name of Anton Maria da Carpi.
York. City Art Gallery.
St Francis receiving the Stigmata. Wood, 36 x 29.
The seraph in the sky has been largely obliterated by overcleaning. In the top right-hand corner, a poor peasant lends an ass to the saint, taken ill on his way to Mount Alvernia. The small panel once belonged to the poet Walter Savage Landor. An attribution to Cima was accepted by Berenson in his 1957 Lists and in the 1961 gallery catalogue; but it was rejected by Humfrey (1983), who even doubted whether the picture had originated in the painter's workshop. Along with most other Italian works in the gallery, the panel was presented by Lycett Green in 1955.