The Virgin and Child with SS. Gregory, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, Julian, Dominic, and Francis, c. 1476-1477
Italian, 1420 - 1497
tempera on wood
152.5 x 157.5 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 6084)
The Sacra Conversazione, an assembly of the Virgin and Child with saints, was a popular theme in Renaissance painting. Here, saints Gregory, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, and Julian stand to each side of the enthroned Virgin, while Dominic and Francis kneel in front. Although these saints lived in different eras, they are united here in the presence of the Virgin and Child. Each saint is identified through his symbol – for example, a dove for Pope Gregory – and by text. The six saints were chosen by the Salviati family of Florence, which commissioned this altarpiece for a church in nearby Pisa for the use of their compatriots.
Marks and Labels
– paper label : “Wallraf-Richartz Museum Gemälde-Inventar Nr. 500”
– stamp: “500”
– in white chalk: “27921”(identified as the Munich Central Collecting Point inventory number)
c. 1476/1477 – c.1531–40
Compagnia dei Fiorentini, Pisa, Italy 
1866/05 – 1867/05/23
Johann Anton Ramboux (1790–1866), Cologne, Germany, purchased from an unknown source 
1867/05/23 – 1943
Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, purchased from Johann Anton Ramboux 
1943 – 1946/05/04
Galerie für Alte Kunst (Walter Bornheim, b. 1888), Munich, Germany, purchased from the Wallraf-Richartz Museum 
1946/05/04 – 1949/08/23
Munich Central Collecting Point of the U.S. Army's Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives section (MFA&A), Munich, Germany, recovered from Walter Bornheim 
1949/08/23 – 1952/10/15
Paul L. Drey, New York (b. 1885), awarded to him by the Wiedergutmachungsbehörde Oberbayern, Germany, in compensation for damages sustained during the Nazi regime 
National Gallery of Canada, purchased from L. Paul Drey 
The main source for this provenance is Diane Cole Ahl's catalogue raisonné, cat. no. 49 [“Benozzo Gozzoli: Tradition and Innovation in Renaissance Painting.” New Haven, London: Yale University Press, 1996]. Exceptions and other supporting documents are noted.
 As first stated by Gronau in 1909 [G. Gronau “Benozzo Gozzoli” in Thieme, Ulrich and Felix Becker.“Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart.“ Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 1907–50, vol. III, p. 347] the Ottawa altarpiece is most likely identical with the one described by Vasari in the chapel of the Compagnia dei Fiorentini in Pisa [Vasari, Giorgio. “Le Vite”, ed. Milanesi, Florence 1906, vol. III, p.652]. This view is supported by most scholars today. Kier and Zehnder suggest that the painting remained there until c. 1531–40 [Kier, Hiltrud and Frank Günter Zehnder. “Lust und Verlust: Corpus-Band zu Kölner Gemäldesammlungen 1800–1860. ” Cologne 1998, p. 598, cat. no. 457].
 The painting was purchased in May 1866 for 600 Taler by Johann Anton Ramboux, who served as keeper of the Cologne Municipal Museum. After Ramoux's death it was auctioned at Heberle-Lempertz in Cologne on May 23, 1867 [“Catalog der nachgelassenen Kunstsammlungen des Herrn Johann Anton Ramboux, Conservator des Städtischen Museums in Cöln,” lot no. 457].
 The altarpiece was purchased by the Wallraf-Richartz Museum at the 1867 sale with funds by Matthias Joseph De Noël and remained in the museum's possession until 1943. The work carries a label on the verso with the Wallraf-Richartz Museum inventory no. 500. See note .
In 1938, Cologne city officials offered the altarpiece to Swiss art dealer Theodor Fischer as payment for a Madonna and Child by Lucas Cranach, bought from Fischer. The city presented it as a gift to Reichmarschall Hermann Göring on the birth of his daughter. City officials allowed Fischer to pick a work of art from the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in exchange. The Benozzo Gozzoli altarpiece was suggested but the deal was not approved, since the Gozzoli was considered too important. Fischer finally received Van Gogh's Portrait of Armand Roulin from the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum in exchange [Boumberger, Thomas. “Raubkunst Kunstraub.” Zurich 1998, p. 52-53, Yeide, Nancy. “Beyond the Dreams of Avarice” p.240, cat.no. A65].
 Walter Bornheim took over the firm A.S. Drey, Munich, in 1936. In order to acquire a 12th-century statue of the Virgin and Child and a painting by Lancret from Bornheim, the Wallraf-Richartz Museum de-accessioned works of art from its collection. The museum gave 300 000 Reichsmark and sixteen pictures as payment, among them Benozzo Gozzoli's The Virgin and Child with Saints and the 15th century South German Dormition of the Virgin (NGC, no. 5768), which both are now in the possession of the NGC [Detailed Interrogation Report no. 11 of Walter Bornheim, conducted by Theodore Rousseau on September 15, 1945, p. 4, in: OSS Art Looting Investigation Unit Reports 1945–46, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., USA, 2001, Microfilm M1782]. Indirectly involved in this deal was Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, one of Bornheim's most important customers. Göring was given the right of first refusal to Bornheim's 12th century Madonna. As compensation for ceding this right he received four of the sixteen Wallraf-Richartz Museum paintings from Bornheim. Otto H. Förster, then General Director for Museum of the City of Cologne, states that he was opposed to this deal but forced into it by Cologne's National Socialist mayor Peter Winkelnkemper [Wallraf-Richartz Museum Archive, Akte Förster: Förster, Otto. “Der Ausbau der Gemäldegalerie des Wallraf-Richartz-Museums von 1935 bis 1944.“ Mehlem, July/August 1945 (unpublished), p.32]. In the fall of 1943 Hermann Göring offered Bennozzo Gozzoli's altar panel to the Louvre in exchange for the 11th-century Basle Antependium. The deal had been initially approved by French officials but the exchange rejected [Consolidated Interrogation Report No.2, The Göring Collection, p.141-143; in: OSS Art Looting Investigation Unit Reports 1945–46, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., USA, 2001, Microfilm M1782].
 After the war the painting was recovered from Bornheim by members of the U.S. Army and brought to the Munich Central Collecting Point. It remained there until August 23, 1949, when it was restituted to the heirs of A.S. Drey [Munich Central Collecting Point database, Mü-no.: 27921, http://www.dhm.de/datenbank/ccp/dhm_ccp.php?seite= , accessed on Oct.2, 2009; see also: court order, dated Aug. 4, 1949, Wiedergutmachungsbehörde I, Oberbayern, reference no. I a-937, Staatsarchiv Munich, NGC curatorial file].
 See note  and . In a letter to NGC Director H.O. McCurry dated June 1, 1953, Elisabeth Drey, New York, explains the circumstances of the restitution: “My former firm, A.S. Drey, Munich, tried for years to buy the Benozzo Gozzoli altar. [ ] the painting topped our list of purchase desiderata. And when in 1936 our business was forcibly and without compensation transferred to “other hands”, the new owners got hold also of our records, including this list of desiderata. The manager of the new firm was Walter Bornheim. [ ]After the German defeat the United States Occupation Army took the Benozzo Gozzoli in custody for us and through a court decree of August 4, 1949 by the Wiedergutmachungsbehörde, Oberbayern (Reference No. I-a 93), the Benozzo Gozzoli Altar was, in compensation of damages sustained, finally assigned as property to the former partners of A.S. Drey, Munich, represented by me as attorney.”
 Accession log [NGC curatorial file].