National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Enthroned Madonna and Child Byzantine 13th Century (possibly from Constantinople)
Byzantine 13th Century (painter)
Enthroned Madonna and Child, c. 1250/1275
tempera on poplar panel
painted surface: 124.8 x 70.8 cm (49 1/8 x 27 7/8 in.) overall: 130.7 x 77.1 cm (51 7/16 x 30 3/8 in.) framed: 130.5 x 77 x 6 cm (51 3/8 x 30 5/16 x 2 3/8 in.)
Gift of Mrs. Otto H. Kahn
On View
From the Tour: Byzantine Art and Painting in Italy during the 1200s and 1300s
Object 1 of 8


Said to have come from a church, or convent, in Calahorra (province of La Rioja, Spain);[1] (art market, Madrid), in 1912. (Herbert P. Weissberger, Madrid).[2] (Emile Pares, Madrid, Paris, and New York); (his sale, Anderson Galleries, New York, 18-19 February 1915, 2nd day, no. 306, as by Giovanni Cimabue); (Emile Pares, Madrid, Paris, and New York);[3] sold 26 November 1915 to (F. Kleinberger & Co., New York).[4] Otto Kahn [1867-1934], New York, by 1917;[5] by inheritance to his widow, Addie Wolff Kahn [d. 1949], New York;[6] gift 1949 to NGA.

[1] The provenance was first published as “from the Cathedral of Calahara, Spain” in the 1915 sale catalog of the Emile Pares collection, and it is repeated with various modifications in the subsequent literature. Although the Spanish provenance has sometimes been doubted, NGA Systematic Catalogue author, the late Miklòs Boskovits, did not see any firm basis for such an allegation. He asked why should such an apparently unlikely provenance be fabricated for a painting considered to be, as was the Kahn Madonna, the work of an Italian artist, Cimabue or Cavallini. Boskovits considered speculations like those put forward by August Mayer (“Correspondence,” Art in America 12 [1924]: 234-235) and James Stubblebine (“Two Byzantine Madonnas form Calahorra Spain,” The Art Bulletin 48 [1966]: 379-381), linking the arrival of NGA 1949.7.1 and its companion-piece (NGA 1937.1.1) to Spain with the story of Anna Constance, widow of the emperor John III Ducas Vatatzes (who lived in Valencia since 1269 and died there in 1313), to be, for the time being, idle. There could be various other ways to explain the presence of the two paintings at Calahorra (see Otto Demus, “Zwei Konstantinopler Marienikonen des 13. Jahrhunderts,” Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinischen Gesellschaft 7 [1958]: 93-94); the provenance should, according to Boskovits, be considered valid until demonstrated otherwise. As Rolf Bagemihl wrote to David Alan Brown (letter of July 1992, in NGA curatorial files): “There has been a confusion and deprecation of the Calahorra provenance, but Parès[sic] was a serious collector and it might be profitable to have some research done on his collection, and right in Calahorra.”

[2] In 1949 Edward B. Garrison (Italian Romanesque Panel Painting, Florence, 1949: 44, no. 23) included Madrid and Weissberger (Garrison spelled the name Weissburger) in his provenance of the painting, without including any dates. In 1982 Hans Belting (“The ‘Byzantine’ Madonnas: New Facts about their Italian Origins and Some Observations on Duccio,” Studies in the History of Art 12 (1982): 7, 21 n. 2) wrote that the painting had come on the art market in Madrid in 1912, and that it was Weissberger who claimed the painting had come from Calahorra. However, according to Belting, Robin Cormack found in Edward B. Garrison’s papers (at the Courtauld Institute, London) the information that Weissberger had fabricated the Calahorra provenance, information that Cormack referred to in a lecture given at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington in 1979.

[3] The purchaser at the Pares sale is recorded as G.W. Arnold in an annotated copy of the sale catalogue in the NGA Library, as well as in a report on the sale in American Art News (27 February 1915): 7. Arnold is also given as the purchaser of other lots. However, there is a Pares invoice for the sale of the painting to Kleinberger later in the year (see note 4), so perhaps Arnold was buying for Pares, and the painting was actually bought in. Indeed, Osvald Sirén writes about the sale: “Somehow none of the New York collectors or dealers at that time seems to have grasped the artistic and historical importance of the work; the bidding was very slow, and the original purchaser retained his treasure. When I came to New York about a year later [early 1916] the picture was in the hands of a well known dealer…” (“A Picture by Pietro Cavallini,” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 32, no. 179 [February 1918]: 45).

[4] The Pares invoice for the sale to Kleinberger describes the painting as "Vierge[sic] sur pauneau garanté du 13th siecle. provenant de la Cathèdrale de Calahorra" (Kleinberger files in the Duveen Brothers Records, accession number 960015, Research Library, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles: reel 251, box 396, folder 5; copy in NGA curatorial files).

[5] Kahn owned the painting by the time he lent it to an exhibition at Kleinberger Galleries that was on view in November 1917. It has not yet been determined when and from whom Kahn purchased the painting, although it was possibly from Kleinberger.

[6] Although Duveen Brothers asked at least in 1941 what price Mrs. Kahn would accept for the painting, she specifically told them it was not for sale and that it was not to be shown to anyone (the dealer was storing the painting for her); Duveen Brothers Records, accession number 960015, Research Library, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles: reel 328, box 473, folder 2; copies in NGA curatorial files.

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