Madonna and Child
Henry Doetsch, London; his sale, Christie's, London, 22-25 June 1895, lot 251, as "Luis De Morales, (called El Divino): Virgin and Child, Panel-6 �...� in. by 5 ¼ in. / Painted under the influence of Correggio and Parmeggiano / From the Collection of Earl Cowley / The Companion to No. 250 [Luis de Morales: Salvator Mundi]; sold for £10-10 to F. Murray [Fairfax Murray?];
Charles Butler of Warren Wood Hatfield; his sale, Christie's, London, 25-26 May 1911, lot 166, as "Luis de Morales / The Madonna and Child / Small half-length figure of the Madonna, in red and blue dress, holding the Infant Saviour, who places His arms round her neck / On panel, 6 ½ in. by 5 ¼ in. / From the Collection of Earl Cowley / From the Collection of Henry Doetsch, Esq., 1895 / Exhibited at the Exhibition of Spanish Art, New Gallery, 1895-6.";
Charles Brummer, Paris;
Bruno Meissner, Zurich;
Private Collection, South Germany
“Exhibition of Spanish Art,” New Gallery, London, 1895-1896, no. 132, as Luis de Morales. “Small half-length figure of the Virgin holding the Infant Christ in her arms; He places His arms around her neck. Copper [sic] 6 ½ x 5 ½ in. / Lent by Charles Butler, Esq.”
This precious panel painting is a newly identified work by Alonso Sánchez Coello, best known for his role as court portrait painter to Philip II but distinguished as well through his relatively rare religious paintings. In those works his indebtedness to Italian masters, such as Parmigianino, Correggio, and Luca Cambiaso, is evident, and it is not surprising that the present work had passed until relatively recently under the name of the mannerist painter Lelio Orsi. It had, however, been recognized as being Spanish in the nineteenth century, when it was attributed to Luis de Morales, confirmed by its oak support-either truffle oak (quercus robur) or cork oak (quercus suber), both of which are found in Spain.
The attribution to Sánchez Coello was first proposed by Dr. Susana Fernández de Miguel, noting the close similarity in style, physiognomy, and composition with the artist's Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine in the Prado (Fig. 1), which is painted on cork oak. Particularly striking are analogies in the crisp folds of drapery, unusual fiery haloes, and robust musculature of the Christ child.