Friday, 22 February 2013

Verrocchio’s Early Style and an Obscure Panel in the Courtauld.

Att. to Andrea del Verrocchio, Madonna and Child, Courtauld Institute of Art, London, possibly 1460s (Shearman).

Rogier van der Weyden, Madonna, Virgin and Child, c. 1433, Oil on panel, 14 x 10 cm, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid.
Though Verrocchio is first and foremost a Florentine painter, and clearly an example of that school’s art, there are indications that he absorbed influences from outside the city. John Shearman has argued that some of Verrocchio’s Madonnas, and those that have been attributed to him, betray stylistic influences from Northern Europe. An intriguing Madonna in the Courtauld Institute prompted an article from Shearman where he said that details such as the painting, physical characteristics- low, drooping eyelids- long rippling hair-, landscape view through an aperture suggested the influence of Rogier van der Weyden.[1] Previous attributions to Northern Italian painters like Foppa can be safely ruled out, but it is significant that painters in the vicinity of Verrocchio’s studio have been connected with this neglected panel. Shearman particularly focuses on Bernard Berenson’s attribution of this panel to a “Florentine unknown…between Pollaiuolo and Leonardo.” Despite the unspecific of this attribution, Shearman argues that it makes perfect sense since its style encompasses both Verrocchio’s style and that of his famous pupils like Lorenzo di Credi, Ghirlandaio, and of course Leonardo da Vinci. Altarpieces like the Madonna and Saints (Pistoia) show touches of Verrocchio, although there is also a strong possibility that the master was helped by pupils such as Lorenzo di Credi and Ghirlandaio.  

Att to Verrocchio, but probably done with the assistance of Lorenzo di Credi, Madonna with Sts John the Baptist and Donatus, 1475-83, Wood, 189 x 191 cm, Duomo, Pistoia.

[1] John Shearman, “ A Suggestion for the Early Style of Verrocchio” Burlington Magazine, Vol. 109, No. 768, The Gambier-Parry Bequest to The University of London (Mar., 1967), pp. 110-127.

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