Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Nativity

Bernardino Fungai (Italian, Sienese, 1460–1516 or later)
probably after 1500
Oil and gold on wood
Overall 55 3/8 x 40 1/2 in. (140.7 x 102.9 cm); painted surface 54 7/8 x 39 3/4 in. (139.4 x 101 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1926
Accession Number:
Not on view
Fungai's mature style reflects his awareness of the work of Umbrian artists active in Siena in the last decade of the fifteenth century. The present picture seems to date after 1500 and repeats features of an altarpeice in the cathedral at Chiusi. The landscape, however, is more elaborate. A good deal of Fungai's work depends for its effect on his skillful handling of gilt ornament and delicately rendered details. In the present picture these passages have been sadly compromised by abrasion and over-cleaning.
[art dealer, Bassano, until 1923; sold to Sullivan]; James Amory Sullivan, Asolo, Italy, and Boston (1923–26; sold to MMA)
Bryson Burroughs. "The Madonna of Siena." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 21 (August 1926), pp. 192–93, ill. on cover, as by Fungai.

Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 211.

Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 182.

Raimond van Marle. The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. Vol. 16, The Hague, 1937, p. 472, fig. 275, dates it between 1485 and 1500, and notes the influence of Pinturicchio.

F. Mason Perkins. Letter. March 24, 1938, writes that he first ascribed the picture to Fungai when it was in the Sullivan collection at Asolo [see Ex collections], and that it had until then been considered a North Italian work.

Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, pp. 98–99, ill., calls it "representative of the spacious later style of Fungai".

Pèleo Bacci. Bernardino Fungai, pittore senese (1460–1516). Siena, 1947, p. 6.

Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Central Italian and North Italian Schools. London, 1968, vol. 1, p. 151.

Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 76, 269, 606.

Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sienese and Central Italian Schools. New York, 1980, pp. 14–15, pl. 78, call it typical of Fungai's mature style; discuss related works by Fungai and sources for the composition in earlier Sienese prototypes.

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