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 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] (Herbert P. Weissburger, Madrid), in 1912; (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);[2] sold 26 November 1915 to (F. Kleinberger & Co., New York).[3] Otto Kahn [1867-1934], New York, by 1917;[4] by inheritance to his widow, Addie Wolff Kahn [d. 1949], New York;[5] gift 1949 to NGA.

[1] Osvald Sirén (Giotto and some of his followers, 2 vols., Cambridge and London, 1917) first gives this provenance, and it is repeated in the subsequent literature. The same provenance is also claimed for the so-called Mellon Madonna, NGA 1937.1.1, ever since its first appearance. Hans Belting (“The ‘Byzantine’ Madonnas: New Facts about their Italian Origin and Some Observations on Duccio,” Studies in the History of Art 12 (1982): 7-22), on the basis of information derived, he claims, from some “notes of E.B. Garrison,” states that the Spanish provenance of the two paintings is fictitious; he considered it to be the dealer Weissburger’s invention. NGA systematic catalogue author Miklòs Boskovits does not see any firm basis for such an allegation. He asks 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. 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), are, 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.

[2] 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 3), so perhaps Arnold was buying for Pares, and the painting was actually bought in.

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

[4] Kahn owned the painting by the time of an exhibition at Kleinberger Galleries that was on view in November 1917.

[5] 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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