Jacopo di Cione

Triptych of the Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints

c. 1370-1380
Portable triptychs – three panels hinged together – were opened for personal prayer away from a church. The format guides the viewer by creating a hierarchy among the various holy subjects. Historic events in the life of the Virgin and Christ are placed on the wings. The Annunciation – the earliest subject – is appropriately at the top: the angel Gabriel gestures across space to the Virgin opposite him, while on the central panel, God blesses her. The Nativity and Crucifixion follow to the sides. These events are secondary to the central, timeless image: the Virgin and Child united together with saints from different periods and places. Perpetually together before Christ, the saints act as our intercessors to the divine.

Formerly on the verso:

– customs stamps from France (Paris-Est), Switzerland

– One undecipherable stamp, round

Prince and Princess Murat, possibly Gaétan-François-Lucien-Joachim, Comte Murat (b.1861) and Caroline-Pauline-Thérèse, Comtesse Murat (1870–1940), Paris, France [1]

– 1949/08/04
Galerie für Alte Kunst GmbH (Walter Bornheim, b.1888), Munich, Germany and Paul L. Drey (b.1885), New York, USA (owned jointly) [2]

1949/08/04 – 1963/05
Paul Drey Gallery, New York, USA, awarded by the Wiedergutmachungsbehörde Oberbayern, Germany, in compensation for damages sustained during the Nazi regime [3]

Private collection, Switzerland (?) [4]

– 1963/05
Paul Drey Gallery [Elizabeth Drey], New York, USA [5]

1963/05 –
National Gallery of Canada, purchased from Paul Drey Gallery [6]

[1] In the bill of sale to issued on May 20, 1963 to the National Gallery of Canada, the Paul Drey Gallery notes that the altarpiece was formerly owned by Prince and Princess Murat of Paris, and later belonged to a private collection in Switzerland [Accession record, NGC curatorial file].

[2] According to restitution documents in the Munich Staatsarchiv, Paul L. Drey and Walter Bornheim shared ownership to an “altar by Narod Cione”[sic] [court order, dated Aug. 4, 1949, Wiedergutmachungsbehörde I, Oberbayern, reference no. I a-937, Staatsarchiv München, NGC curatorial file]. In this document Bornheim's rights to the altarpiece, of which he owned half, were fully transferred to the Drey family as compensation for damages suffered during WW II. In 1935 the Munich art dealership A.S. Drey had been “aryanized”, taken over by Walter Bornheim and renamed “Galerie für Alte Kunst”. The Drey family immigrated to the USA, where the firm operated in New York. According to the restitution documents, the altarpiece was with the Paul Drey Gallery in New York by 1949.

[3] See note [2].

[4] See note [1].

[5] See note [6].

[6] The National Gallery of Canada purchased the altar from the Paul Drey Gallery in May 1963 [Accession records, NGC curatorial file].

Triptych of the Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints
c. 1370-1380
egg tempera and gold leaf on wood, likely poplar
triptych open: 76.5 x 69.2 cm; centre panel: 76.5 x 34.3 cm; side panels: 61.5 x 17.3 cm each
Credit line
Purchased 1963
Accession number