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For the provenance of a ‘Christ Blessing’ by Giovanni Bellini from the Augustinian Complex at Santo Stefano in Venice

L’articolo, di cui si pubblica la traduzione inglese curata da Caroline Lehmann e Stephen Corsham, è uscito nell’ultimo volume di Arte Veneta (LXIX, 2012 [2014], pp. 11-15) con il titolo “Per la provenienza di un ‘Cristo benedicente’ di Giovanni Bellini dal complesso agostiniano di Santo Stefano a Venezia”.*

1. Giovanni Bellini, Christ Blessing, formerly Venice, Church of Santo Stefano (Federico Zeri Photo Library, Bologna)

1. Giovanni Bellini, Christ Blessing, formerly Venice, Church of Santo Stefano (Federico Zeri Photo Library, Bologna)

THE MOTIF OF “Christ Blessing” or a representation of the “Head of Christ” is especially prevalent in and around Venice, as some variations on this theme can be found here depending on the presence of the globe or the difference in the 'blessing' gesture.1

Antonello’s “Salvator Mundi“ of 1475, in the National Gallery in London (NG 673), was already of fundamental significance for Venetian painters with respect to the propagation of the theme, which had already spread surprisingly far even in the sixteenth century.2

Giovanni Bellini undoubtedly played an important role in the development of this iconographic typology in the Venetian region,3 and many works in private collections have been attributed to him.

“A painting of the face of Christ in half-profile, in a gilded frame”, is mentioned in the inventory of the Este family’s collection in 14934 , and another appears in the will of Elena Trevisan (1522).5

In 1528, Michiel sees a “head of Christ in majesty painted in the finest and most complete manner imaginable” in Zuanantonio Venier’s collection, adding: “It was by the hand of Giovanni Bellini”.6

In 16277 , a third painting on this theme by the master is in the possession of the Vendramin family, while a “painting of Our Saviour, who appears in a circle of four saints depicted as half-figures, executed with care and devotion” – also by Giovanni Bellini – is recorded by Carlo Ridolfi as having been in the house of Bernardo Giunti.8

Marco Boschini9  notes a “Head of Our Saviour” by Giovanni Bellini in the “Scuola della Carità” in 1674 – a painting which Joseph Archer Crowe and Giovan Battista Cavalcaselle have attempted to identify as the picture from the “Accademia di San Fernando” in Madrid (Inv. No. 450).10

The inventory of Giovanni Donato Correggio’s collection, written between 1646 and 1674, reveals a “Head of Christ” that had cost 50 ducats and was attributed to “Zambelin or Rocco Marconi”.11

The will of Pietro Foscarini, written on 29th April 1745 includes a “half-figure picture of Christ on wood by Zambellini”.12

Once again, it is Carlo Ridolfi who provides us with an important piece of information, claiming that Giovanni Bellini “bestowed a gift on the Church Fathers of Santo Stefano, a picture of the Redeemer in the act of blessing, an image of great rarity by virtue of its devotion and the care taken in its execution, allowing one to feel every detail of the skin and see every individual emotion reflected in the face”.13

In the absence of any mention of this work in the church by Venetian historians, Detlev von Hadeln suggests that the painting must have been in the adjacent monastery.

In his opinion Ridolfi, who was deeply attached to the Augustinian Church Fathers of Santo Stefano and wanted to be buried in the monastery, could therefore really have seen it in the refectory or in one of the “side chapels”.14

A hypothesis of great interest in this respect was recently advanced by Antonio Mazzotta15 – following up an item of information from Jennifer Fletcher  – suggesting that the picture mentioned by Ridolfi could be the same as the work that turns up in Giovanni Zancaruol’s  will.16

Zancaruol wanted to be buried in Santo Stefano in Venice and directed: “to make a sarcophagus with a marble lid which may cost 100 ducats or more to ensure that it be fair and splendid, as I have never desired to spare any expense, and I wish for it to be made by my friend, Master Tulio Lombardo, or by his brother Master Antonio, as they are both my dear friends and brothers”.17 He continues: “so shall the works of art and furniture from my house near Rialto also be given to the commissars18 for sale by auction. Likewise, may the figure of Christ painted by Master Zambellino, which cost 50 ducats,19 also be hung up in the church where my body will lie. This shall be to to preserve my memory, and if any money be made, it shall be used to pay whomsoever must be paid.”20

In any case, a compromise dated 31st January 1554 states that “ … the picture shows Jesus Christ, Our Lord”, a picture that had not yet been ceded to the Church of Santo Stefano by the heirs of Morosini, who had been commanded by the judges to hand over the picture as directed in Zancaruol’s will.21

Mazzotta’s reasoning concludes with the assumption that “if the work really passed into the possession of Santo Stefano from 1554 onwards, or a little later, it is at least possible that the dynamics of the endowment were kept alive in the brothers’ conception for something less than a century, up until Ridolfi’s time; but not the identity of the donor.”22

Critics have often discussed the possibility of trying to find traces of the painting in Santo Stefano cited by Ridolfi among the other works also in existence, for example the attempt at identification with “Christ Blessing” from the Musée du Louvre (Inv. R.F. 2039).23

By contrast, in 1958 Antonio Morassi suggested it could be recognized in the work that is now in Fort Worth (Kimbell Art Museum, Inv. AP 1967.07).24

Both in the event of historical substantiation by Ridolfi of Giovanni Bellini’s gift and in the event of the hypothesis that this matter corresponded with the testimony of the will left by Giovanni Zancaruol, it must be remarked that – on the evidence of an image preserved in the Zeri photographic library in Bologna – a Christ Blessing was already in the possession of Santo Stefano in Venice that was in all probability related to these historical circumstances (Fig.1).25

There is a remark dated 13th December 1911 on the back of this photo, signed by Giulio Cantalamessa, who remembers seeing the picture for the first time in 1900 in the Nardi collection in Mira.

The owner informed Cantalamessa that his family had purchased it from Don Luigi Piccini, the  then priest at Santo Stefano in Venice, some time around 1850.26

In 1900, convinced that this really was the “Christ Blessing” of which Ridolfi had spoken, Cantalamessa offered the picture for sale to the Italian state; although the offer was not taken up, the outstanding quality of the work was confirmed. The scholar did not dispute the fact “that there were some visible indications of restoration on the left cheek, forehead and neck.” Since the Italian ministry had declined the offer to buy the painting, the owner immediately found a French buyer and the picture left Italy.

The purchase from Piccini of the “Christ Blessing” in the 19th century appears to us to be a significant fact for a possible identification with one of the two paintings from Santo Stefano mentioned above; however, a certain degree of uncertainty remains in view of the events that had a negative impact on Santo Stefano church and monastery during the nineteenth century.27

It is against this background that the “Christ Blessing” in the Galerie Hans in Hamburg is now introduced (Fig. 3),28 a work that experts have known about for a considerable time, although the first publication on it was by Anchise Tempestini in 2000.

According to the scholar, the painting was said to have been attributed to Giovanni Bellini by Rodolfo Pallucchini – there is a photograph of it in his archive (Fig. 2)29 – on the basis of an expertise which I have not yet been able to trace.30

The collection history of the Christ Blessing in the Galerie Hans has been known since 1959 when it was in the possession of H. F. Frankhauser, followed by a spell in a Swiss private collection until 1999, when it became part of the collection where it has remained until now;31 we also know that the work was shown at a sale exhibition at the Galerie Charpentier in Paris between December 1952 and March 1953.32

My research enabled me to trace the progress of the painting back to 1898, when it was apparently sold at the Cenolini exhibition in Milan on 14th April.33

A photograph (Fig. 4) by Bernard Berenson, dated March 1953 – I am indebted to  Mattia Vinco for drawing attention my attention to it – also permits the inference that Wildenstein was interested in the painting, as witnessed by Berenson in a manuscript remark, which includes the citation: “With Giov. Bellini, Marconi??”34

The similarity between this photograph and the one known to Pallucchini (Fig. 2) permits the conclusion that it is the painting at the Galerie Hans. In fact, the state of preservation is very similar on both photographs (Fig. 2, 4), even if, on comparison with Berenson’s photo (Fig. 4), Pallucchini’s (Fig.2) displays a number of blanks around the passementerie border.

The latest information is based on two other pieces of photographic evidence from the Christ Blessing in the National Gallery in Washington: both belong to the fund of George M. Richter (1875-1942), donated to the National Gallery archives by Solomon R. Guggenheim in 1943.35

The first36 (Fig. 5) has an anonymous remark on the back that mentions “bonne plaque”, which may refer to how faithful a reproduction of the original the photograph is.

A stamp on the other photograph37 (Fig. 6) indicates that it was once in the possession of Ehrich Galleries in New York, a fact that can be added to a single chronological point of reference that must have occurred before 1943, the year in which the collection of photos reached the National Gallery.

The state of preservation displayed by the two photos (Fig. 5, 6) clearly shows that this was the Hans painting.  The photo featuring the reference to the Ehrich Galleries, in particular (Fig.6), which was probably developed using radially polarized light, shows various raised blemishes in the paint, in the same places where the "Christ Blessing" in Hamburg is damaged, then retouched with watercolours.

In terms of the portrayal of the figures, the painting familiar to Cantalmessa (Fig.1) and the work from the Hans collection (Fig. 3) display very close similarities – although some questions of form are still evident and they are only partially explained by the different chronology in which the photographs were taken.

An analysis of the passementerie, in particular, reveals that the interplay of decorative elements containing plants is not entirely congruous, especially on the right-hand side.

The passementerie, decorated with alternate whorls, circles and strawberries (Fig.1), is not encountered in identical form in the Hamburg picture, where the plant decorations take a different form.

The two photographs from Richter’s fund (Fig. 5, 6) nevertheless reveal that the passementerie was, on dates prior to 1943, still very similar in comparison with the picture appraised by Cantalmessa (Fig. 1).

We consider this element important inasmuch as it gives us fair grounds for asserting that it is the same work in both cases, even though certain incidences of restoration,38 whose date of execution cannot be precisely stated, have partially altered its appearance.

I am indebted to Mattia Vinco for drawing my attention to the photograph (Fig. 7) which once belonged to Gustav Ludwig (1854-1905),39 and confirms the idea put forward in the previous lines. It provides the ideal means of completing the cycle that began with Cantalmessa’s photo (Fig. 1) from which this research started.

The document in question quite obviously dates from before 1905 i.e. the year of the German scholar’s death, that is in the same years as the oldest photograph (Fig. 1), when Ludwig conducted extensive research in the Venetian archives in collaboration with Pompeo Molmenti: the representation of the long curly hair is the same on the left-hand side of the picture and in correspondence with Christ’s forehead; the passementerie also appears to be identical.

Scrutiny of the photographic evidence pertaining to the “Christ Blessing” formerly in Santo Stefano reveals the numerous and complex attempts at conservation to which the picture was subjected, leaving it in the highly deplorable condition it is currently in.

However, the loss of colour does not detract from our appreciation of the light-and-dark softness of the face and Christ’s ecstatic expression as he turns his head to the right – slightly varying the typology of the “Christ Blessing” in Ottawa, (National Gallery, Canada, n. 4421) (Fig. 8)40 perhaps by only a few years.

8. Giovanni Bellini, Christ Blessing, Ottawa, National Gallery, Canada

8. Giovanni Bellini, Christ Blessing, Ottawa, National Gallery, Canada

*Translation: Caroline Lehmann, Stephen Corsham, Berlin.
I would not have been able to write these pages without the generous advice and encouragement of Alessandro Ballarin, Antonio Mazzotta, Alessandra Pattanaro, Debra Pincus, Andrea Tomezzoli and Mattia Vinco, to all of whom I am deeply grateful. My sincere thanks also go to Anne Auber, Monica Cavicchi, Laura Gaetani, Simone Guerriero, Matthias F. Hans, Missy Lemke, Giovanni Pagliarulo and Eliot Rowlands for having facilitated my research. ↩

  1. There is extensive literature on this subject: for the iconographic aspects of Venetian pictures portraying Christ, see: F. Saracino, Cristo a Venezia. Pittura e Cristologia nel Rinascimento, Genoa-Milan 2007. 
  2. With regard to the date of the work, see also G. Previtali, “Da Antonello da Messina a Jacopo di Antonello. 1. La data del “Cristo benedicente” della National Gallery di Londra”, in “Prospettiva”, 20, 1980, pp. 27-43. 
  3. Fritz Heinemann thinks the origin of the Venetian "Salvator Mundi" to be a prototype by Bellini that has now been lost; in iconographic terms this prototype is derived from "Supper at Emmaus", also by Bellini, a painting that was once in the Cornaro collection but was destroyed by fire, and is only known because of a 1760 engraving by Pietro Monaco, in which Christ is shown making the same blessing gesture as the iconography of the Salvator Mundi. F. Heinemann, Giovanni Bellini e i belliniani, Venice 1962, I, p. 58.  Further engravings can be found in Pietro Monaco, Raccolta di cento dodici stampe di pitture della storia sacra, Venice,1763. See also L. Finocchi Ghersi, Artisti e committenti a San Salvador, in “Arte Veneta” II, 1997, 51, pp. 21-39, in particular pp. 32, 38 Note 45, Fig. 21. 
  4. G. Campori, Raccolta di cataloghi ed inventarii inediti di quadri, statue, disegni, bronzi, dorerie, smalti, medaglie, avorii, ecc., dal secolo XV al secolo XVX, Modena 1870, p. 2.  In the same inventory there appears “a wooden picture with the image of Christ by the hand of Bellino” that Keith Christiansen has attempted to identify as “ L’imago pietatis” from the Museo Poldi Pezzoli (Inv. 1587) (K. Christiansen, in “Le Muse e il Principe”, exhibition catalogue (Milan, Museum Poldi Pezzoli, 20. September – 1. December 1991) edited by A. Di Lorenzo, A. Mottola Molfino, M. Natale, A. Zanni, I, Modena 1991), Cat. No. 78, p. 309.
    The assumption that the commission for the Milan picture was given to Giovanni Bellini by Borso Este is accepted by Andrea Di Lorenzo, who also suggests its identification with “the payment” by the ducal treasury of the Este dated 4th July 1457 to a certain «Maistro Zohane da Venetia depintore» for «chomprà choluri et altre robe»”. A. Di Lorenzo, Alcune ipotesi sulle vicende collezionistiche dell’«Imago Pietatis» di Giovanni Bellini del Museo Poldi Pezzoli, in Giovanni Bellini dall’icona alla storia, exhibition catalogue (Milan, Museo Poldi Pezzoli, 9 November 2012 - 25 February 2012), edited by A. De Marchi, A. Di Lorenzo, L. Galli, Turin 2012, pp. 32-33. 
  5. G. Gronau, Giovanni Bellini. Des Meisters Gemälde, Stuttgart 1930, p. 208. 
  6. M.A. Michiel, Notizia d’opere del disegno, with an introduction by C. De Benedictis, Florence 2000, p. 55 (complete reprint of the 3rd edition supervised by T. Frimmel, Vienna 1986). 
  7. Tancred Borenius, The Picture Gallery of Andrea Vendramin, London 1923, Fig. 1, p. 22. 
  8. D. von Hadeln in the critical edition of Ridolfi, Le Maraviglie…, cit., Part 1, p. 71. The case of the picture from the Giunti collection is interesting in terms of an iconographic reference, apparently to its originating from Bellini, for the ‘Salvator mundi e quattro Santi’ by Carpaccio, now in the Sorlini collection; in this work, Christ in the act of blessing is surrounded by the heads of men whose identity critics have been unable to establish, and about which Giorgio Fossaluzza has recently made a statement in favour of a portrayal of the Evangelists. G. Fossaluzza, Una Imago Pietatis di Vittore Carpaccio agli esordi, in ‘Verona Illustrata’, xxv, 2012, p. 26. 
  9. M. Boschini, Le miniere della pittura. Compendiosa informazione di Marco Boschini non solo delle pitture pubbliche di Venezia: ma dell’isole ancora circonvicine. Seconda impressione con nove aggiunte, Venice 1674, p. 36.
    It appears significant that Boschini speaks of a “mobile little picture” displayed in the lodgings.  The small format of paintings of this type is an element that points to their use for private devotion. We can thank Sixten Ringbom for coining the fitting phrase “dramatic close-up”, in which great expressive power derives from the fact that the observer stands at a short distance from these devotional pictures portraying half-figures. (S. Ringbom, Icon to narrative. The rise of the dramatic close-up in fifteenth-century devotional painting, Abo 1965). He refers to a new picture genre, “pictures which create a modern form of the icon that is not of its time, not the historic denial of the pure Theophany, but represents an exemplary extrapolation for meditation, for silent prayer or for an intellectual approach”. (A. De Marchi, La pala d’altare: dal polittico alla pala quadra, as part of a lecture in a course held in 2011/2012, with the collaboration of M. Mazzalupi, Florence 2012, p. 187). 
  10. J.A. Crowe, G.B. Cavalcaselle, A History of Painting in North Italy: Venice, Padua, Vicenza, Verona, Ferrara, Milan, Friuli, Brescia from the Fourteenth to the Sixteenth Century, edited bit. Borenius, London 1912, I, p. 159, note 1. 
  11. The remark is dated 1646. The inventory was compiled by the collector himself and transcribed by L. Borean, La quadreria di Agostino e Giovan Donato Correggio nel collezionismo veneziano del Seicento, Udine 2000, p. 171. 
  12. The information is taken from the website ‘Getty Provenance Index Database’, number I-4102 (Foscarini) and is also recalled by A. Mazzotta in Gabriele Veneto e un ritratto dimenticato di Giovanni Bellini, in ‘Prospettiva’, cxxxiv-cxxxv, 2009, April-July, p. 23, remark 44.
    There are recurring 19th century references to “Saviours Blessing” attributed to Bellini in the history of Venetian collections: two were in Valentino Benfatto’s collection, while there was a “Saviour on wood of the school of Giovanni Bellini” in Cristoforo Orsetti’s. See also the website ‘Getty Provenance Index Database’ number I-4709 (Benfatto), I-4771 (Benfatto) e I-3554 (Orsetti). 
  13. C. Ridolfi, Le Maraviglie dell’arte, overo le Vite de gl’illustri pittori veneti e dello Stato. Ove sono raccolte le Opere Insigni, i costumi & i ritratti loro, Con la narratione delle Historie, delle Favole e delle Moralità da quelli dipinte, descritte dal Cavalier Carlo Ridolfi. Con tre Tavole copiose de’ Nomi de’ Pittori antichi, e moderni, e delle cose Notabili. Parte Prima [...]. Parte Seconda [...], Venice 1648; … and edited by D. von Hadeln, 2 volumes, Berlin 1914-1924, Part One, p. 71. 
  14. D. von Hadeln in the critical edition of Ridolfi, Le Maraviglie…, cit., Part One, p. 71, note 5. 
  15. A. Mazzotta, Gabriele Veneto…, cit., p. 8. 
  16. The document was published by Pietro Paoletti with the date 16. February 1515, even if it is not possible to definitively confirm whether the date is more veneto o more Imperii (P. Paoletti, L’Architettura e la Scultura del Rinascimento in Venezia. II. Il Rinascimento, Venice 1893, p. 112), and quoted by Jennifer Fletcher (J. Fletcher, Bellini’s Social World, in P. Humfrey [edited by], The Cambridge companion to Giovanni Bellini, Cambridge 2004, p. 27). This was publicised in the context of a study on archive documentation in relation to Tullio Lombardo (A. Pizzati, M. Ceriana [under the direction of], Tullio Lombardo. Documenti e testimonianze, Venice, 2008, pp. 78-83) and in the catalogue of the monographic Rome exhibition devoted to Giovanni Bellini (M. Barausse, in Giovanni Bellini, exhibition catalogue edited by M. Lucco, Rome, Scuderie del Quirinale, 30 September 2008 – 11 January 2009, Milan, 2008, pp. 357-357, No. 122). Zancaruol was married to Maria Morosini, daughter of Giusto and sister of Alvise. A. Pizzati, M. Ceriana [Eds.], Tullio Lombardo…, cit., p. 79, note 37. 
  17. A. Pizzati, M. Ceriana [under the direction of], Tullio Lombardo…, cit., p. 79. 
  18. His wife Maria Morosini and nephew Alvise Morosini also appear among the various commissars of Giovanni Zancaruol, son of Pietro. 
  19. For the reading of the number 50 as it appears in the authentic copy, instead of the 30 given in notary Marsilio’s copy, see also A. Pizzati, M. Ceriana [edited by], Tullio Lombardo…, cit., p. 81, note 42. 
  20. A. Pizzati, M. Ceriana [edited by], Tullio Lombardo…, cit., p. 81. 
  21. A. Pizzati, M. Ceriana [edited by], Tullio Lombardo…, cit., p. 81, note 42. 
  22. The scholar does not fail to emphasise that the picture is no longer mentioned by the historical accounts following Ridolfi’s. A. Mazzotta, Gabriele Veneto…, cit., p. 8. 
  23. The first was T. Borenius, The Provenance of Bellini’s “Christ” in the Louvre, in ‘The Burlington Magazine’, xxvii, 1915, p. 205. 
  24. A. Morassi, Scoperta d’un Cristo benedicente di Giambellino, in ‘Arte Veneta’, 1958, xii, pp. 45-52. 
  25. Bologna, photo archive Federico Zeri, “Giovanni Bellini, Soggetti Sacri vari. 2”, index card 24780, Inv. 63512. The photographer is the Venetian Tomaso Filippi (1852-1948). 
  26. Monsignor Luigi Piccini – priest at Santo Stefano from 1846 to 1874 – is the initiator of the restoration of the church that took place in the years 1847-1852, funded by Maria Loredana von Gattenburg Morosini, and in the course of which much was removed, an operation carried out and deplored by Scipione Fapanni: “He removed the balustrade of the chancel, which was made of fair marble, and sold it, replaced it with a wretched wooden railing […]. He altered or moved other holy monuments and pictures with the intention of doing good”.  The quote from Fapanni’s manuscript, preserved in the Marciana Library, is dealt with in Apollonio Ferdinando’s book on the church and monastery of Santo Stefano, in which he adds, always with reference to the restoration: "Piccini took other measures: he replaced the statues of the saints on the altars, changed the furniture and added lamps in the antique style. Considering the means he had at his disposal at the time, he could certainly have done it better." A. Ferdinando, La chiesa e il convento di S. Stefano in Venezia, Venice 1911, pp. 52-53. 
  27. The fact that the monastery was occupied by French troops from 1806 onwards should not be underestimated, and neither should the fact that the church became a parish church on 24th October 1810, following the dissolution of the Augustinian order. “In the course of the 19th century, works arrived from the destroyed church of Sant’Angelo, amongst others, as a result of alterations and defacement of existing artefacts and the consequent loss of several paintings and statues”. M.A. Chiari Moretto Wiel, La chiesa di Santo Stefano. Il patrimonio artistico, in Gli agostiniani a Venezia e la chiesa di S. Stefano, atti della giornata di studio nel V centenario della dedicazione della chiesa di Santo Stefano (Venice, 10. November 1995), Venice 1997, pp. 284-285. 
  28. Cm 48.5 x 36.5. An analysis of the painting, removed from its frame, revealed that it had originally been painted on wood, then mounted on canvas and subsequently immediately remounted on parqueted wood.
    There is an interesting example of vertical splitting of the wood on the left-hand side of the picture, beginning at the bottom, and corresponding with the transition between the Christ’s dark blue coat and his red cloak. 
  29. The photograph from Pallucchini’s photo archive (Fig. 2), from the Fondazione Giorgio Cini di Venezia, Istituto di Storia dell’Arte, ID index card 289778, has the following dimensions: 48.5 x 36.5 cm. An identical photo – with the same dimensions – is preserved in the photo archive of the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, “Giovanni Bellini”, ND 614, 461. This came from the effects of Giannino Marchig (1897-1983) and a remark on the back in pencil identifies the picture as a “copy after Giovanni Bellini”.  I was unable to ascertain who wrote this remark, which nevertheless does not appear to be of recent date.  The existence of this photograph does not imply that it portrays painting restored by Marchig, even if this possibility cannot be ruled out. It was not possible to find other traces of the painting in the documentation of Marcher’s restoration work, although my researches were somewhat hampered by problems with the preservation of certain photographic materials.  For a short overview, see: J. Marchig, Giannino Marchig restauratore. Comunione con l’arte, in Un artista triestino a Firenze. Giannino Marchig, exhibition catalogue (Trieste, Museo Civico Revolterra, 21.  March-21 May 2000), edited by. Masau Dan, S. Gregorat, Cisinello Balsamo 2000, pp. 106-111. 
  30. Tempestini attributes the Christ Blessing to the early years of the 16th century (A.Tempestini, Giovanni Bellini, Milan 2000, pp. 171, 182, No. 104). The attribution was confirmed by Carolyn C. Wilson, who states a convincing case for the years 1505-1510. The scholar mentions an expertise by Giuseppe Fiocco, but without giving any more precise details. (C.C. Wilson, in Gemälde und Skulpturen, Hamburg 2008, pp. 32-37, Cat. No. 9). Referring to the painting from the Galerie Hans, Francesco Saracino claims that in the Gemäldegalerie Berlin “a drier replica has been preserved, as a counterpart, yet with the difficulty of attributing it to Vincenzo Catena” (F. Saracino, Cristo a Venezia…, cit., p. 128, note 16); see also Gemäldegalerie Berlin: Gesamtverzeichnis, edited by. Bock, R. Grosshans, Berlin 1996, Cat.No.1184. 
  31. C.C. Wilson, in Gemälde…, cit., p. 32. 
  32. L’Art Sacré. “Le jugement dernier”, polyptique des Hospiece de Beaune, introduction by M.R. Duchet, preface by S. Fumet, “Art et Style, 26”, sales catalogue of the Galerie Charpentier, December 1952-March 1953, Paris 1953, cover photo, p. 6 (not numbered). 
  33. London, Witt Library, “Italian School”, 3, 216. On this occasion the painting was sold with its frame, which was deemed to be the original. Dating yet to be confirmed, as I was unable to locate the picture in any catalogue of the Cenolini sales exhibition of this year. 
  34. Villa I Tatti, photo library B. Berenson, Inv. 108551. 
  35. For the photo library of the National Gallery: Guide to the National Gallery of Art. Photo Archives, Washington, 2002, pp. 3-4. 
  36. Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art, Photo Library: “ITA P Giovanni Bellini, No. 44201495”. 
  37. Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art, Photo Library: “ITA P Giovanni Bellini, No. 44225748”. The photo also gives the dimensions of the picture, evidently in inches: 20 x 15½. 
  38. The painting must have been subjected to more than one restoration here, not only in view of the two transferrals (see also note 28) and the variations to which the various photos bear witness, but also on the evidence revealed by Wood’s lamp, showing that small areas of the varnish have been painted over on the left-hand side of the red cloak. 
  39. Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, “Giovanni Bellini, 5950”. The connection between this photograph and the picture from Hamburg was made by means of a remark written on the passepartout. 
  40.   Credit is due to Georg Gronau for the assignment of the painting from Ottawa (oil on canvas, 51.9 x 40.6 cm) to Bellini (Giovanni Bellini. Des Meisters Gemälde, Stuttgart, 1930) and on the whole it can safely be dated to the first five years of the 16th century in view of its proximity to the Baptism of Christ by Santa Corona in  Vicenza. 
Cite this article as: Sara Menato, For the provenance of a ‘Christ Blessing’ by Giovanni Bellini from the Augustinian Complex at Santo Stefano in Venice, in "", 1 novembre 2014; accessed 25 luglio 2017.


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