National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Saint Helena Cima da Conegliano (artist)
Venetian, c. 1459 - 1517 or 1518
Saint Helena, c. 1495
oil on panel
overall: 40.2 x 32.2 cm (15 13/16 x 12 11/16 in.) framed: 61 x 53.3 x 6.4 cm (24 x 21 x 2 1/2 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
1961.9.12
On View
From the Tour: Venetian Painting in the Early Renaissance
Object 7 of 7

Provenance

Casa Boschi, Bologna, from at least 1777 until 1858, when sold with the entire Boschi collection.[1] Vincenzo Valentini or Gioacchino Valentini, Rome, in 1860.[2] George John Browne, 3rd marquess of Sligo [1820-1896], Westport House, Co. Mayo, Ireland;[3] by inheritance to his daughter (by his third wife), Lady Isabel Mary Peyronnet Browne [1881-1947], Mount Browne, Guildford, Surrey; (sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 12 March 1948, no. 81); Dr. James Hasson, London;[4] (Thos. Agnew & Sons, Ltd., London); sold 1953 to (M. Knoedler & Co., New York and London) and (Pinakos, Inc. [Rudolf Heinemann], New York);[5] (M. Knoedler & Co., New York and London); sold January 1954 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York;[6] gift 1961 to NGA.

[1] This provenance has been revised since the 2003 publication of the Gallery's systematic catalogue of its 15th century Italian paintings. The painting is recorded in a 1777 inventory of the Boschi collection as "S. Elena, bellissima, ben conservata e cosa rara, di Leonardo da Vinci, L. 2500" (see Giuseppe Campori, Raccolta di cataloghi ed inventarii inediti..., Modena, 1870: 634), and Otto Mündler saw the painting in August 1856 when the owner of the collection was the Marchese Valerio Boschi (d. 1857), and again in March 1858 when the collection was for sale (see The Travel Diaries of Otto Mündler 1855-1858, ed. Carol Togneri Dowd, in Walpole Society 51 [1985]: 116 [fol. 48, August 1856], 218 [fol. 61, March 1858], 261, 270). According to documents in the Boschi family archive, the man who paid the money for the collection was Vito Enei; see Edith E. Coulson James, "A Portrait from the Boschi Collection, Bologna," The Burlington Magazine 30, no. 167 (February 1917): 74.

[2] Andrea Ugolini (e-mail of 24 February 2009, in NGA curatorial files) kindly brought to the Gallery's attention the publication of Charles Lock Eastlake's notes on a visit to the Conegliano Domo in 1860 in which he writes "on the left of the spectator the female St [Catherine] is the same as the little St Elena once in the Boschi collection Bologna (now belonging to Valentini Rome & which is inscribed Bellini)"; see Alessandro Frangi, Miriam Leonardi, and Valentina Urizzi, "Altri contributi sui taccuini di Sir Charles Lock Eastlake (1852-1864). Treviso, Castelfranco, Conegliano e Venezia," Solchi: rivista d'arte 9, nos. 1-3 (2005?): 128-129. Vincenzo Valentini was the Prussian consul in Rome; Gioacchino Valentini was his heir, either his son or nephew.

[3] The 1948 sale catalogue states that the painting was "presented to the Third Marquess of Sligo by his first wife," but this must be in error, as was pointed out to the Gallery by Andrea Ugolini (e-mail of 20 February 2009, in NGA curatorial files). The 3rd Marquess' first wife was Ellen Sydney Smythe, daughter of the 6th viscount Strangford. They married in 1847, and she died in 1852, making it impossible for her to have presented the NGA painting to her husband since the painting appears to have still been in Italy in 1860. Further research must be done to determine when and from whom the 3rd Marquess acquired the painting.

[4] Hasson's name is recorded in Art Prices Current 1947-1949 26 (1951): A52, no. 2133.

[5] Stockbook no. J1027, Thomas Agnew & Sons, London; information also from records of M. Knoedler and Co., provided by the Getty Provenance Index.

[6] The bill of sale for this, and several other paintings, is dated 28 January 1954, and annotated paid on 4 February (copy in NGA curatorial files).

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