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Mater Dolorosa / Christ Crowned with ThornsEnlarge image

Mater Dolorosa / Christ Crowned with Thorns, c. 1485-1495

Dieric Bouts, Workshop of
Flemish, 1420 - 1475
oil on oak
38.8 x 30.3 x 0.5 cm each (approx.)
Purchased 1992
National Gallery of Canada (no. 36824.1-2)

It was Dieric Bouts who introduced the convention of pairing the image of the weeping Virgin with that of Christ crowned with thorns. His sons and his workshop continued to make replicas for patrons who demanded exact copies. These images, with their realistic details - from the transparent tears to the gruesome depiction of the thorns piercing the forehead of Christ - helped in the private meditation on Christ's Passion and humanity.

Marks and Labels 

-on the verso of each panel two red wax seals: one showing the Borghese arms, the other cancelled

-the verso of the Mater Dolorossa, inscribed u.l. in paint (?) “I”

Provenance 

– before 1878
Don Pietro Statella, Prince of Cassaro (dies 1878), Palermo, Italy [1]

by 1968 –

by inheritance to Prince Steno Borghese (1911-1978), Nettuno, Italy, and thence by descent [2]

– 1992
Harari & Johns Ltd., London, UK acting as agents on behalf of an unidentified owner [3]

1992 –
NGC, purchased from Harari & Johns Ltd., London, UK [4]

Notes 

[1] & [2] First cited in Giovanni Caradente, Collections d'Italie. Pt. 1 “Sicile”. Les primitifs flamands series. (Bruxelles, 1968), pp. 4-5, “des répliques fidèles de deux tableaux de l'atelier de Bouts à la National Gallery de Londres (nos. 711 et 712), conservés aujord'hui dans la collection du prince Steno Borghese à Nettuno (Rome), proviennent aussi de Palerme où ils ont étés la propriété du prince du Cassaro.” “accurate copies of the two paintings by Bouts' studio in the National Gallery, London (nos. 711 & 712), now in the collection of prince Steno Borghese at Nettuno (Rome), also came from Palermo where they belonged to the prince of Cassaro.” (“Prince of Cassaro” was one of Pietro Statella's titles.) Pietro Statella dies September 25th, 1878. His only child (?) was Stefanina Statella (1861-1884) who marries Giuseppe Borghese (1859-1942); Steno Borghese (1911-1978) was their grandson [dates from a note in NGC curatorial files].

[3] Described as from a “Princely private collection” according to the undated description of the works by Harari & Johns Ltd. [NGC curatorial files]

[4] Invoice dated December 10, 1992. [NGC curatorial files] Legal date for acquisition December 11, 1992.


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