At first glance, the painting appears to be a crucifixion scene, but it’s not. Press the play button below to hear more as you take a closer look.
San Marco, Florence, until ca. 1582. Compagnia della Santa Croce, parish of San Michele Bisdomini, Florence, probably until ca. 1796–98. William Young Ottley (1771–1836), London, probably by 1798, and sold by his estate to; (1) Edward Solly (1776–1844), (2) London and Berlin (estate sale, London, Christie’s, 8 May 1847, lot 13, as Cosimo Rosselli, “formerly in the collection of the late Young Ottley, Esq.,” sold to);
[B. J. Smith]. (3) William Fuller Maitland (1813–1876), Stansted House, Essex, by 1854, by inheritance to his son; William Fuller-Maitland (1844–1932) Stansted House, Essex (sale, London, Christie’s, 10 May 1879, lot 106, as Cosimo Rosselli. (Sale, London, Christie’s, 14 July 1922, lot 69, to); Leopold Hirsch (1857–1932), London (estate sale, London, Christie’s, 11 May 1934, lot 132, to); [J. Howard, London, for]; Benjamin Seymour Guinness (1868–1947),(4) New York, Mignano, Italy, and Switzerland, by descent to his son; (5) Capt. Thomas Loel Evelyn Bulkeley Guinness (1906–1988), (6) London and Epalinges, Switzerland, sold in 1991 by his estate through; [Harrari and Johns, Ltd., London, sold 1991 to]; LACMA.
(1) Regarding the art historian, writer, collector, and dealer William Young Ottley, see Waagen 1838, pp. 121–26, Geer 1953, and Waterhouse 1962.
(2) Edward Solly was an English timber merchant living in Germany. In 1821 the Prussian State purchased three thousand paintings from his collection, which became the nucleus of what is now the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin. Solly made his fortune in timber but later, in London, was a dealer in paintings, saving, however, the best, including the Volto Santo for himself. For Solly, see Herrmann 1967–68.
(3) According to an annotated sale catalogue quoted by the Getty Provenance Index, Sales Catalogues Database. One catalogue notes "Smith of Bond St."
(4) Lieut. Benjamin Seymour Guinness RN was trained as a lawyer and made a fortune as director of the New York Trust Co., Lackawanna Steel Co., Kansas City Southern Railway, Seaboard Air Line, Duquesnie Light Co., and United Railroads of San Francisco. He was the younger brother of Arthur Guinness, the Guinness brewery’s founder.
(5) Guinness took the painting to his home in Mignano about 1936, when he married Marchesa Maria Nunziante di Mignano, the daughter of Mariano Nunziante, duke of Mignano. The altarpiece was stored in Leghorn during World War II and thus avoided destruction with the house in Mignano in 1943. About 1950, following Benjamin Guinness’s death in 1947, the painting was taken to a Guinness home in Switzerland, where it was kept in storage until it was discovered in 1991, following the death of Thomas Loel Evelyn Bulkeley Guinness and the assessment of his estate.
(6) Thomas L. E. B. Guiness, Benjamin’s son and heir from his first marriage (1902) to Bridget Williams Bulkeley, was a member of Parliament for Bath (1931–45), a businessman, and a philanthropist.
- Guggenheim, Barbara. Art World: the New Rules of the Game. Beverly Hills: Marmont Lane Books, 2016.
- Lehmbeck, Leah, editor. Gifts of European Art from The Ahmanson Foundation. Vol. 1, Italian Painting and Sculpture. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2019.
- Exhibition of Early Italian Art: From 1300 to 1550. London: The New Gallery, Regent Street, 1893.
- Migliore, Ferdinando Leopoldo del. Firenze città nobilissima. Firenze: Nella stamp. della Stella, 1684.
Caroselli, Susan L. Italian Panel Painting of the Early Renaissance. Los Angeles: Museum Associates, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1994.