The Virgin and ChildEnlarge image

The Virgin and Child, c. 1485

Master of the Marble Madonnas
Italian ?
polychromed and gilt marble
89.5 x 57.5 x 15 cm
Purchased 1961
National Gallery of Canada (no. 9676)

Master of the Marble Madonnas is the name given to a late 15thcentury sculptor active in Tuscany and later Urbino. His busy workshop produced many such images of the Virgin and Child, which are characterized by the sensitive carving of the heads, drapery and decorative detail, introducing a liveliness and depth to the shallow relief. Many were partly painted and gilded to clarify the composition and to attract the eye. Although later altered, this example gives an excellent sense of the original effect. The coats-of-arms indicate that it was made for a client in Urbino.

Marks and Labels 

Coat of Arms (stemma) on the lower right: possibly Dominican convent

Coat of arms on the lower left: Montefeltro family, Urbino, Italy


Montefeltro family, Urbino, Italy (?) [1]

William Williams Hope (1802–1855), Hôtel de Monaco, Paris, France [2]

– 1855/08/22
Vinus Hodkinson Crosby, Liverpool, UK, by inheritance [3]

1855/08/22 – 1873
Baron Achille Seillière (d. 1873), Hôtel de Monaco, Paris, France, purchased from Hodkinson [4]

1873 – 1890/05/10
Baroness Camille-Zoe Seillière, his widow, (d. 1886) and their daughter Jeanne de Talleyrand-Périgord (1844–1916), Princesse de Sagan, Hôtel de Monaco (subsequently Hôtel de Sagan), Paris, and later Château de Mello, Oise, France, by inheritance [5]

– 1916 (?)

Henri Heugel (1844–1916), Paris, France [6]

– 1960/06/27
Brimo de Laroussilhe, Paris, France [7]

1960/06/27 – 1961/12/20
Jacques Seligmann & Co. (Germain Seligman, 1893–1978), Paris, France and New York, N.Y., United States [8]

1961/12/20 –
National Gallery of Canada, purchased from Germain Seligman [9]


[1] The coat of arms in the lower left corner of the bas-relief can be identified as that of the Montefeltro family of Urbino, Italy, who probably commissioned the work.

[2] Francoise Magny's publication about the history of the Palais Monaco in Paris mentions The Virgin and Child, then attributed to Donatello, being in the possession of Dutch-English banker William Williams Hope. Hope purchased the Palais Monaco in 1838. After his death in 1855, the Palais, along with Hope's extensive art collection, was inherited by his friend Vinus Hodkinson Crosby of Liverpool, who put the estate up for sale. The Virgin and Child was purchased along with the Palais Monaco by Baron Achille Seillière [Magny, Francoise. “Hotel de Monaco, puis de Sagan.” “Le Faubourg Saint-Germain: la Rue Saint-Dominique. Hôtels et amateurs.” Délégation à l'action artistique de la ville de Paris, Société d'histoire et d'archéologie du VIIe arrondissement, Paris: Musée Rodin 1984, p.139]

[3] See note [2].

[4] See note [2] and [5].

[5] By 1886, the year of Baronne de Seillière's death, the The Virgin and Child was displayed in the vestibule of the Palais Monaco [Magny, p.144, no. 222]. Later the piece was brought to the Seillière's country estate Château de Mello in the department Oise. The family sold the relief in 1890 through the Galerie Georges Petit [“Objets d'Art de haute curiosité et de riche ameublement provenant de l'importante collection de feu M. le Baron Achille Seillière au Château Mello." Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, May 5–10, 1890, lot 332, repr. as Donatello].

[6] On his invoice to the NGC, Seligman lists the Parisian music publisher and prolific art collector Henri Heugel as previous owner of the relief [invoice dated Jan. 19, 1962, Accession records, NGC curatorial file].

[7] See note [8].

[8] Art dealer Germain Seligman acquired the marble relief on June 27, 1960, from Parisian dealer Brimo de Laroussilhe [Invoice, Seligmann Archive, Archives of American Art, Washington D.C., Box 224, inv. no. 8603] and sold it to the NGC on December 20, 1961 [Accession log, NGC curatorial file]. Germain Seligman had galleries in Paris and New York. His father Jacques Seligmann (1858–1923) founded the family business in Paris in 1880, which was later based at the Hôtel de Sagan [the renamed Hôtel Monaco].

[9] See note [8].

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