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Overview

This work shows the Madonna and Child seated in a garden that represents Eden. The orange trees bloom with pure white flowers that symbolize Mary's virginity. An Annunciation scene appears in the raised and gilded foliate scrolls at the top of the painting.

Since antiquity, sleep was regarded as "the brother of death," and during the Renaissance, representations of the sleeping Christ Child were considered prefigurations of the death that he would suffer for mankind. In Cosmè Tura's painting, death is also foreshadowed by the stone sarcophagus on which Mary is seated.

Cosmè Tura is considered the first great painter in Renaissance Ferrara, a city in northern Italy. He spent most of his professional life in the service of the noble d'Este family, the dukes of Ferrara. Because Ferrara lacked strong artistic traditions, Cosmè was free to develop a very personal style. He may have been inspired by the works of Tuscan and Paduan artists, as well as by the Flemish, some of whose paintings figured in Ferrarese collections in the fifteenth century. In this early work, Cosmè showed an eccentric tendency to exaggerate human anatomy for expressive ends, as seen in the treatment of the Virgin's elongated hands. Purposeful distortions increase in his later works, which reverberate with spiritual and emotional fervor.

Provenance

Possibly (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London and New York).[1] Harold Irving Pratt [1877-1939] and Harriet Barnes Pratt [1879-1969], New York, by 1917 until at least 1939.[1] (Wildenstein & Co., Inc., New York); sold December 1943 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York;[2] gift 1952 to NGA.

[1] The provenance of the painting in the 1939 World's Fair catalogue begins with "Joseph Duveen, Millbank," although no other source lists Duveen. The second name in the 1939 provenance in "Francis Kleinberger." The picture first came to public attention when Pratt exhibited it in 1917 at Francis Kleinberger's in New York, but there is no convincing evidence that Pratt actually acquired the work from Kleinberger's.

Exhibition History

1917
Loan Exhibition of Italian Primitives, F. Kleinberger Galleries, New York, 1917, no. 78, repro.
1935
Italian Paintings of the Renaissance, The Century Association, New York, 1935, no. 16.
1939
An Exhibition of Italian Paintings and Drawings, Fogg Museum of Art, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1939, no. 40, as The Virgin and Child with The Annunciation.
1939
Masterpieces of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture from 1300-1800, New York World's Fair, 1939, no. 389.
1946
Recent Additions to the Kress Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1946, no. 827.
2000
The Gualenghi-d'Este Hours: Art and Devotion in Renaissance Ferrara, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2000, brochure, repro. of detail, and unnumbered catalogue, fig. 54.
2002
Cosmè Tura: Painting and Design in Renaissance Ferrara, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, 2002, no. 4, repro.
2007
Cosmè Tura e Francesco del Cossa. L'arte a Ferrara nell'età di Borso d'Este, Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara, 2007-2008, no. 55, repro.
2014
Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, 2014-2015.

Bibliography

1907
Gombosi, György. “Cosimo Tura.” In Ulrich Thieme and Felix Becker, eds. Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart. 37 vols. Leipzig, 1907-1950: 33(1939):482.
1925
Venturi, Adolfo. “Arte ferrarese del rinascimento.” L’Arte 29 (1925): 93-94, fig. 5.
1927
Venturi, Adolfo. Studi dal vero: Attraverso le racolte artistiche d’Europa. Milan, 1927: 156-158, fig. 93.
1931
Härtzsch, Otto. “Katalog der echten und falschlich zugeschriebenen Werke des Cosimo Tura.” Ph.D. diss., Hamburg University, 1931: 20-21.
1931
Venturi, Adolfo. North Italian Painting of the Quattrocento. Emilia. Florence and New York, 1931: 40, pl. 26.
1931
Venturi, Lionello. Pitture italiane in America. Milan, 1931: pl.260.
1932
Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932: 581.
1933
Venturi, Lionello. Italian Paintings in America. 3 vols. New York and Milan, 1933: 2:pl.344.
1934
Longhi, Roberto. Officina Ferrarese. Rome, 1934: 23-24, fig. 62.
1935
Frankfurter, Alfred M. “Italian Paintings in Loan Display at Century Club.” Art News 33, no. 23 (1935): 11.
1936
Berenson, Bernard. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936: 500.
1940
Härtzsch, Otto. “Cosimo Tura.” Pantheon 26 (1940): 161.
1941
Ortolani, Sergio. Cosmé Tura, Francesco del Cossa, Ercole de'Roberti. Milan, 1941: 20-25, 87, fig. 1.
1945
Paintings and Sculpture from the Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1945 (reprinted 1947, 1949): 72, repro.
1946
Frankfurter, Alfred M. Supplement to the Kress Collection in the National Gallery. New York, 1946: 34, color repro. frontispiece
1950
Nicolson, Benedict. The Painters of Ferrara. London, 1950: 18.
1951
Einstein, Lewis. Looking at Italian Pictures in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1951: 50 n. 1.
1952
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Great Paintings from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1952: 42, color repro.
1953
Neppi, Alberto. Cosmè Tura: saggio critico. Milan, 1953: 43-44, 135.
1957
Salmi, Mario. Cosmè Tura. Milan, 1957: 10-12, 24, 43, pl. 1.
1957
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Comparisons in Art: A Companion to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. London, 1957 (reprinted 1959): pl. 35.
1958
Ruhmer, Eberhard. Tura: Paintings and Drawings. London and New York, 1958: 27, 33-34, 173, figs. 32, 33.
1959
Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 122, repro.
1960
Gilbert, Creighton. "Cosimo di Domenico di Bonaventura." In Alberto Maria Ghisalberti, ed. Dizionario biografico degli italiani. 82+ vols. Rome, 1960+: 30(1984):29.
1961
Walker, John, Guy Emerson, and Charles Seymour. Art Treasures for America: An Anthology of Paintings & Sculpture in the Samuel H. Kress Collection. London, 1961: 48, colo repro. pl. 47.
1963
Bianconi, Pietro. Tutta la pittura di Cosmè Tura. Milan, 1963: 14, 36, pls. 1, 4.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 301, repro.
1964
Bonicatti, Maurizio. Aspetti dell'Umanesimo nella pittura veneta dal 1455 al 1515. Rome, 1964: 17, fig. 24.
1965
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 132.
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 1:60, color repro.
1966
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Italian Schools, XIII-XV Century. London, 1966: 81-82, fig. 225.
1968
Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Central Italian and North Italian Schools. 3 vols. London, 1968: 1:433.
1968
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 119, repro.
1969
Guidoni, Enrico, and Angela Marino. “Cosmus Pictor. Il Nuovo organo di Ferrara: Armonia, storia, e alchimia della creazione.” Storia dell’Arte 4 (1969): 410.
1972
Fredericksen, Burton B., and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, MA, 1972: 206, 646.
1974
Lipton, Deborah. "Francesco Squarcione." Ph.D. diss., New York University, Institute of Fine Arts, 1974: 216.
1974
Molajoli, Rosemarie. L'Opera completa di Cosmè Tura e i grandi pittori ferraresi del suo tempo: Francesco Cossa e Ercole de'Roberti. Milan, 1974: 84, fig. 2, pl. 2.
1975
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 352, repro.
1978
Boskovits, Miklós. “Ferrarese Painting around 1450: Some New Arguments.” The Burlington Magazine 120, no. 903 (June 1978): 377.
1978
Riccomini, Eugenio. Cosmè Tura. I Maestri del colore. New ed. Milan, 1978: 5, 7.
1979
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1979: 1:509-510; 2:pl. 356.
1981
Leighton, Patricia. “Leonardo’s Burlington House Cartoon.” Rutgers Art Review 2 (1981): 34, fig. 5.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 116, no. 97, color repro.
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 403, repro.
1992
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 18, repro.
1993
Dorigato, Attilia. Carpaccio, Bellini, Tura, Antonello e altri restauri quattrocenteschi della Pinacoteca del Museo Correr. Exh. cat. Museo Correr, Venice, 1993: 61.
1993
Gagliardi, Jacques. La conquête de la peinture: L’Europe des ateliers du XIIIe au XVe siècle. Paris, 1993: 486, fig. 587.
1996
Campbell, Stephen J. “Pictura and Scriptura: Cosmè Tura and Style as Courtly Performance.” Art History 19 (1996): 277-278, fig. 39.
1996
Steinberg, Leo. The Sexuality of Christ in the Renaissance and in Modern Oblivion. 2nd rev. and expanded ed. Chicago, 1996: 294.
1997
Barstow, Kurtis. "The Gualenghi-d'Este Hours": Art and Devotion in Renaissance Ferrara. Ph.D dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1997: viii, 22-23, 212 fig. I.9
1997
Campbell, Stephen J. Cosme Tura of Ferrara: Style, Politics and the Renaissance City, 1450-1495. New Haven, 1997: 16, 18, fig. 9.
1997
Conradi, Katja. Malerei am Hofe der Este: Cosmè Tura, Francesco del Cossa, Ercole de’ Roberti. Hidesheim, 1997: 33-34, fig. 9.
1998
Manca, Joseph. “Boiardo and the Visual Arts in Ferrara: Comparisons and Convergences.” In Charles Ross and JoAnn Cavallo, eds. Fortune and Romance: Boiardo in America. Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies. Tempe, AZ, 1998: 264-265, fig. 3.
1998
Visser Travagli, Anna Maria, and Giordana Mariani Canova with Federico Toniolo. La miniature a Ferrara dal tempo di Cosmè Tura all’eredità di Ercole de’ Roberti. Exh. cat. Palazzo Schifanoia, Ferrara, 1998: 24, 29, 170, repro.
1999
Molteni, Monica. Cosmè Tura. Milan, 1999: 19, 23, 93-94, 191, 217, 232, repro.
2000
Barstow, Kurt. The Gualenghi-d’Este Hours: Art and Devotion in Renaissance Ferrara. Getty Monograph Series. Los Angeles, 2000: 83-84, fig. 54.
2000
Manca, Joseph. Cosmè Tura: The Life and Art of a Painter in Estense Ferrara. Oxford, 2000: 23, 24, 61, 63, 84, 164-166, fig. 43, pl. XV.
2002
Campbell, Lorne. “Cosmè Tura and Netherlandish Art.” In Stephen J. Campbell et al. Cosmè Tura: Painting and Design in Renaissance Ferrara. Ed. Alan Chong. Exh. cat. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, 2002: 92.
2002
Dunkerton, Jill. “Cosmè Tura’s Painting Technique.” In Stephen J. Campbell et al. Cosmè Tura: Painting and Design in Renaissance Ferrara. Ed. Alan Chong. Exh. cat. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, 2002: 145.
2002
Syson, Luke. “Tura and the ‘Minor Arts’: The School of Ferrara.” In Stephen J. Campbell et al. Cosmè Tura: Painting and Design in Renaissance Ferrara. Ed. Alan Chong. Exh. cat. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, 2002: 39-40.
2002
Toffanello, Marcello. “Cosmè Tura: Drawings and its Pictorial Components.” In Stephen J. Campbell et al. Cosmè Tura: Painting and Design in Renaissance Ferrara. Ed. Alan Chong. Exh. cat. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, 2002: 154, 157.
2003
Boskovits, Miklós, and David Alan Brown, et al. Italian Paintings of the Fifteenth Century. The Systematic Catalogue of the National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., 2003: 656-660, color repro.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 26, no. 18, color repro.
2013
Acres, Alfred. Renaissance Invention and the Haunted Infancy. London and Turnhout, 2013: 105-106, fig. 73.

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