Master of the Castello Nativity (Italian, Florentine, active ca. 1445–75)
Tempera and gold on canvas, transferred from wood
15 3/4 x 10 3/4 in. (40 x 27.3 cm)
The Jules Bache Collection, 1949
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 604
This charming portrait was probably painted in the 1450s by an artist who was influenced by Domenico Veneziano and Paolo Uccello. It has suffered from overcleaning in the past.
Robert Stayner Holford, Westonbirt, Gloucestershire (until d. 1892); Sir George Lindsay Holford, Westonbirt, Gloucestershire (1892–d. 1926; cat., 1924, no. 14, as Florentine, about 1450; his estate sale, Christie's, London, July 15, 1927, no. 121, as Umbro-Florentine, for £6825 to R. Langton Douglas for Duveen); [Duveen, London and New York, 1927–28; sold for $73,422.78 to Bache]; Jules S. Bache, New York (1928–d. 1944; his estate, 1944–49; cats., 1929, unnumbered; 1937, no. 6; 1943, no. 6)
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Winter Exhibition," January 6–March 15, 1902, no. 45 (as Umbrian School, lent by Captain G. L. Holford).
London. Burlington Fine Arts Club. "Pictures of the Umbrian School," 1910, no. 5 (as "Umbro-Florentine School (?)," lent by Sir George Holford).
London. Burlington Fine Arts Club. "Pictures and Other Objects of Art Selected from the Collections of Mr. Holford," 1921–22, no. 12 (as Attributed to Alessio Baldovinetti).
Art Institute of Chicago. "A Century of Progress," June 1–November 1, 1934, no. 58 (as by Paolo Uccello, lent by Jules S. Bache).
New York. World's Fair. "Masterpieces of Art: European Paintings and Sculpture from 1300–1800," May–October 1939, no. 390 (as by Paolo Uccello, lent by the Jules S. Bache collection).
New York. Wildenstein & Co., Inc. "Fashion in Headdress, 1450–1943," April 27–May 27, 1943, no. 2 (as by Domenico Veneziano, lent by the Bache collection).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Bache Collection," June 16–September 30, 1943, no. 6 (as by Domenico Veneziano).
Florence. Palazzo Strozzi. "Mostra di quattro maestri del primo rinascimento," April 22–July 12, 1954, no. 17 (as Attributed to Paolo Uccello).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Florentine Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum," June 15–August 15, 1971, no catalogue.
Roger E. Fry. "The Umbrian Exhibition at the Burlington Fine Arts Club." Burlington Magazine 16 (February 1910), p. 274, suggests that it is Florentine or North Italian rather than Umbrian.
Oskar Fischel. "Abteilung der Bildwerke der Christlichen Epoche: Ein Portrait der 'Prinzessin von Urbino'." Berliner Museen 41 (February–March 1920), cols. 116–17, fig. 37, considers it Umbro-Tuscan, possibly from Urbino, and suggests identifying the sitter as Elisabetta da Montefeltro.
Robert H. Benson, ed. The Holford Collection. Oxford, 1924, pp. 10, 42–43, no. 14, pl. XXII, calls it Florentine and dates it about 1450.
Lionel Cust. "A Portrait by Alessio Baldovinetti (?) at Hampton Court Palace." Apollo 7 (January–June 1928), p. 27.
Walter Heil. "The Jules Bache Collection." Art News 27 (April 27, 1929), p. 3, ill. p. 32, attributes it to Domenico Veneziano and dates it to the middle of the fifteenth century.
A Catalogue of Paintings in the Collection of Jules S. Bache. New York, 1929, unpaginated, ill., as by Domenico Veneziano.
August L. Mayer. "Die Sammlung Jules Bache in New-York." Pantheon 6 (December 1930), pp. 537, 541, ill. p. 539, attributes it to Domenico Veneziano.
H. E. Wortham. "The Bache Collection." Apollo 11 (May 1930), p. 354, fig. IV, as by Domenico Veneziano.
Lionello Venturi. "Paolo Uccello." L'arte 33 (January 1930), p. 64, fig. 13, attributes it to Paolo Uccello.
Lionello Venturi. Pitture italiane in America. Milan, 1931, unpaginated, pl. CLXIII.
Philip Hendy. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: Catalogue of the Exhibited Paintings and Drawings. Boston, 1931, p. 388, mentions it in connection with other profile portraits attributed to Uccello in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, and the Philip Lehman collection, New York.
Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 172, lists it as by Domenico Veneziano.
Georg Pudelko. "Studien über Domenico Veneziano." Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 4 (1932–34), p. 176 n. 1, p. 199, attributes it to an artist between Domenico and Uccello whom he calls the Master of the Karlsruhe Adoration.
Matteo Marangoni. "Una predella di Paolo Uccello." Dedalo 12 (1932), p. 336, attributes it to either Domenico Veneziano or Paolo Uccello.
Lionello Venturi. Italian Paintings in America. Vol. 2, Fifteenth Century Renaissance. New York, 1933, unpaginated, pl. 195.
Richard Offner. "The Mostra del Tesoro di Firenze Sacra—II." Burlington Magazine 63 (October 1933), p. 178 n. 36, attributes it to the Master of the Castello Nativity.
Georg Pudelko. "The Early Works of Paolo Uccello." Art Bulletin 16 (1934), p. 259 n. 41.
Mario Salmi. Paolo Uccello, Andrea del Castagno, Domenico Veneziano. Rome, , pp. 22–23, 84, 100, 107, pl. XXIX [French ed., 1937, pp. 25, 91, 107, 113, pl. XXIX], attributes it to Uccello and dates it about 1440, observing that some elements suggest Domenico Veneziano.
Georg Pudelko. "Florentiner Porträts der Frührenaissance." Pantheon 15 (January–June 1935), p. 95.
Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 148.
Jean Lipman. "The Florentine Profile Portrait in the Quattrocento." Art Bulletin 18 (March 1936), pp. 72, 76, 79, 96, 98, 101, fig. 21, attributes the MMA, Gardner, and ex Lehman portraits to the Master of the Castello Nativity, and dates them 1450–75.
Jean Lipman. "Three Profile Portraits by the Master of the Castello Nativity." Art in America 24 (July 1936), pp. 113–26, fig. 5, dates it about 1465.
A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. under revision. New York, 1937, unpaginated, no. 6, ill., as by Domenico Veneziano.
Ruth Wedgwood Kennedy. Alesso Baldovinetti. New Haven, 1938, pp. 131, 223 n. 280, attributes it to the Master of the Castello Nativity.
Mario Salmi. "La Madonna 'Dantesca' del Museo di Livorno e il 'Maestro della Natività di Castello'." Liburni Civitas 11 (1938), pp. 38, 44 n.56, fig. 30, rejects the attribution to the Master of the Castello Nativity and ascribes it to Uccello.
W. R. Valentiner. "Andrea dell'Aquila in Urbino." Art Quarterly 1 (1938), pp. 283–288 n. 8, fig. 12, attributes it to the Master of the Castello Nativity, whom he tentatively identifies with Andrea dell'Aquila, and dates it about 1465; identifies the sitter as Elisabetta da Montefeltro based on a limestone bust of her in the Bodemuseum, Berlin.
[Edoardo] Arslan. "Review of Salmi 1938." Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 8 (1939), p. 313, judging from reproductions, accepts the attribution to Uccello and suggests a date after 1440.
Wilhelm Boeck. Paolo Uccello. Berlin, 1939, p. 121, lists it among paintings attributed to Uccello.
Ruth Wedgwood Kennedy. "Review of Salmi 1938." Art Bulletin 21 (September 1939), p. 298, finds it too "summary and casual in handling" to have come from the workshops of Uccello or Domenico Veneziano.
G[eorg]. Pudelko inAllgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 33, Leipzig, 1939, p. 525, lists it with questionable attributions to Uccello.
Werner Cohn-Goerke. "Review of Salmi 1938." Burlington Magazine 75 (November 1939), p. 216, doubts the attribution to Uccello.
Duveen Pictures in Public Collections of America. New York, 1941, unpaginated, no. 43, ill., attributes it to Domenico Veneziano and dates it about 1450.
Regina Shoolman and Charles E. Slatkin. The Enjoyment of Art in America. Philadelphia, 1942, p. 288, pl. 262, as probably by Domenico Veneziano.
A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. rev. ed. New York, 1943, unpaginated, no. 6, ill., as by Domenico Veneziano.
Mary Pittaluga. Paolo Uccello. Rome, 1946, p. 14, attributes it to Uccello and mistakenly illustrates the Gardner portrait in its place.
Millia Davenport. The Book of Costume. New York, 1948, vol. 1, pp. 251–52, no. 704, ill. (cropped).
John Pope-Hennessy. The Complete Work of Paolo Uccello. London, 1950, p. 150, fig. XII, rejects the attribution to Uccello, ascribing it to the Master of the Castello Nativity.
Edoardo Arslan. Letter. April 21, 1952, reaffirms his attribution [see Ref. 1939] to Uccello, dating it after 1440.
Enzo Carli. Tutta la pittura di Paolo Uccello. Milan, 1954, pp. 30–31, 55–56, pl. 23 [English ed., New York, 1963, pp. 27–28, 52, pl. 23], attributes it to Uccello, dating it soon after 1436.
Emma Micheletti inMostra di quattro maestri del primo rinascimento. Exh. cat., Palazzo Strozzi. Florence, 1954, pp. 47–48, no. 17, pl. XXIV, as Attributed to Paolo Uccello.
Stefano Bottari. Storia dell'arte italiana. Vol. 2, Il rinascimento (Parte I): l'arte del Quattrocento. Milan, 1956, p. 288, fig. 378, as by Uccello.
Enio Sindona. Paolo Uccello. Milan, 1957, pp. 40, 61, colorpl. 109, attributes it to Uccello and dates it in his late period.
Paolo d'Ancona. Paolo Uccello. Milan, 1959, p. 13, colorpl. XXXII, attributes it to Uccello; calls it Portrait of a Woman but mistakenly notes that it is said to depict Battista Sforza [see Refs. Fischel 1920 and Valentiner 1938].
Luciano Berti. "Una nuova Madonna e degli appunti su un grande maestro." Pantheon 19 (November–December 1961), p. 304, attributes it to Uccello.
Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Florentine School. London, 1963, vol. 1, p. 62.
Luigi Mallé. "Appunti albertiani in margine al 'Della pittura'." Arte lombarda 10 (1965), p. 215, attributes it to Uccello.
John Pope-Hennessy. The Portrait in the Renaissance. Princeton, 1966, pp. 40–41, 308–9 n. 62, tentatively attributes the MMA and Gardner portraits to the Master of the Castello Nativity, dating them to the third quarter of the fifteenth century and finding them too crude and conventional to have been painted from life.
John Pope-Hennessy. Paolo Uccello. 2nd ed. London, 1969, p. 151, fig. XII, attributes the MMA and Gardner portraits to the Florentine school, and the ex Lehman portrait to the Master of the Castello Nativity.
Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Florentine School. New York, 1971, pp. 114–16, ill., attribute it to the Master of the Castello Nativity, suggesting a date in the first half of the 1450s; note the influence of Domenico Veneziano and reject the identification of the sitter as Elisabetta da Montefeltro.
Lucia Tongiorgi Tomasi inL'opera completa di Paolo Uccello. Milan, 1971, pp. 98, 102 [see Ref. Borsi 1992].
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 126, 529, 608.
Philip Hendy. European and American Paintings in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Boston, 1974, p. 268, reaffirms his attribution [see Ref. 1931] of the MMA and Gardner portraits to Uccello.
Alessandro Parronchi. Paolo Uccello. Bologna, 1974, p. 51, fig. 17h, rejects the attribution to Uccello; suggests that it could have been part of a series of portraits of Federigo da Montelfeltro's eight daughters, probably executed about 1472.
Giuseppe De Logu and Guido Marinelli. Il ritratto nella pittura italiana. Vol. 1, Da Giotto a Raffaello. Bergamo, 1975, pp. 236–37, pl. 80, as by Uccello.
Denys Sutton. "Robert Langton Douglas, Part IV, XVIII: A Fresh Start." Apollo 110 (July 1979), p. 205, fig. 27, accepts the attribution to the Master of the Castello Nativity.
John Pope-Hennessy and Keith Christiansen. "Secular Painting in 15th-Century Tuscany: Birth Trays, Cassone Panels, and Portraits." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 38 (Summer 1980), pp. 59, 62, fig. 51 (color), attribute it to the Master of the Castello Nativity, dating it to the middle of the fifteenth century; compare it to the Gardner portrait and suggest that the two may have originally formed part a single series.
Hellmut Wohl. The Paintings of Domenico Veneziano, ca. 1410–1461: A Study in Florentine Art of the Early Renaissance. New York, 1980, pp. 24, 179, 184, 196, no. 60, pl. 218, calls it Florentine and dates it about 1460; suggests that the prototype of the MMA and Gardner portraits may have been a lost work by Domenico Veneziano in the Medici inventory of 1492.
Carlo Volpe et al. inEarly Italian Paintings and Works of Art 1300–1480 in Aid of the Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum. Exh. cat., Matthiesen Fine Art. London, [1983?], p. 57, under no. 37, supports the attribution to the Master of the Castello Nativity.
Stefano Borsi in Franco Borsi and Stefano Borsi. Paolo Uccello. Milan, 1992, p. 349, ill. [English ed., New York, 1994, pp. 352–53, ill.], doubts the connection to Uccello, grouping it with portraits showing the influence of Pollaiuolo that he believes were made in Urbino about 1470–75.
Chiara Lachi. Il Maestro della Natività di Castello. Florence, 1995, pp. 71–75, 119–20, no. 37, fig. 54, discusses it with the Gardner and ex-Lehman portraits, attributing all three to the Master of the Castello Nativity and dating them to the 1460s, with the ex-Lehman picture being the earliest and the MMA work coming slightly before the Gardner painting.
Michael Kimmelman. "At the Met and the Modern with Jacob Lawrence." New York Times (April 12, 1996), p. C4.
Michael Kimmelman. "An Invigorating Homecoming." New York Times (April 12, 1996), p. C4.
Michael Kimmelman. Portraits: Talking with Artists at the Met, the Modern, the Louvre and Elsewhere. New York, 1998, p. 209 [text similar to Kimmelman 1996].
Laurence B. Kanter. "The 'cose piccole' of Paolo Uccello." Apollo 152 (August 2000), pp. 17–20, fig. 16, attributes it to a follower of Filippo Lippi, possibly the Master of the Castello Nativity.
David Alan Brown inVirtue and Beauty: Leonardo's "Ginevra de' Benci" and Renaissance Portraits of Women. Ed. David Alan Brown. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 2001, pp. 112, 114 nn. 2–3, under no. 5, fig. 1.
Carl Brandon Strehlke. Italian Paintings 1250–1450 in the John G. Johnson Collection and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 2004, p. 382, fig. 74.2, dates it about 1450–55; relates it and the Gardner picture to a portrait by Scheggia in the John G. Johnson Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art, suggesting that all three depend from a lost work by Domenico Veneziano in the Medici inventory of 1492 [see Ref. Wohl 1980] or from a similar painting by the artist.
Alison Wright. The Pollaiuolo Brothers: The Arts of Florence and Rome. New Haven, 2005, p. 524, under no. 55.
Hugh Hudson. Paolo Uccello: Artist of the Florentine Renaissance Republic. Saarbrücken, Germany, 2008, pp. 328–29, no. 60, includes it with Rejected Attributions to Uccello, supporting the attribution to the Master of the Castello Nativity; dates it to about 1460s.
Jacqueline Marie Musacchio. Art, Marriage, & Family in the Florentine Renaissance Palace. New Haven, 2008, p. 161, fig. 161 (color detail).
This work is very closely related to a portrait attributed to Uccello in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston ("A Young Lady of Fashion", oil on wood, 44.1 x 31.8 cm, early 1460s).