Offered by Galerie Meier
Old master and modern paintings
Study for the Sarzana Altarpiece, formerly in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in Berlin
Oil on poplar panel: 107 x 83 cm
Our painting attributed to Andrea del Sarto is a study for an altarpiece which, according to Vasari, was commissioned from Andrea by Giuliano Scala (Florence 1480-1554), an influential figure in Florence, who was consul several times. This composition was intended to be "sent to Sarzana", more precisely to a chapel in the church of San Domenico in Sarzana.
However, recent research disputes the very existence of this church in Sarzana.
This altarpiece, which was destroyed along with other works in the fire at the Flakturm in Berlin in May 1945, represented the Virgin and Child surrounded by St. Benedict, St. Onuphro, St. Peter, St. Mark, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Catherine of Alexandria and in the foreground St. Julia and St. Celsus, as can be seen in the third photo.
Our study differs in many respects from the original. Its dimensions are proportionally larger than the altarpiece. The Virgin's face is longer and has a clearly visible ear. Her right hand is completely reconstructed, as is Jesus' right foot. The Child, whose body and limbs are longer, gives us a more playful expression. The shape of the draperies is also different, with the Virgin's pink tunic contrasting with her blue mantle.
The blue background, made up of rapidly brushed glazed touches, reveals the underlying white preparation. The presence of marks around the Virgin's face supports the notion of a preliminary study.
However, it is difficult to affirm that this composition was painted by the master, as the style and manner differ in many respects. The more elongated faces and bodies are very reminiscent of the Mannerist works of the renowned Florentine painter Pontormo, who joined Sarto's studio in 1511.