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Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist and Saint George (c. 1513-15)
Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist and Saint George (c. 1513-15)
Public Domain
Cesare da Sesto
Artist Dates
Artist Nationality
Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist and Saint George
c. 1513-15
oil on panel, transferred to hardboard
254.6 x 205.7 cm (100-1/4 x 81 in)
K Number
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Accession Number


Commissioned c. 1515/1520 by the Church of San Domenico, Messina, Italy, until 1775; Sir John Francis Edward Acton [1736-1811], 6th Bart., Aldenham Hall, Shropshire; by inheritance to Sir Ferdinand Richard Edward Dalberg-Acton [1801-1837], 7th Bart., Aldenham Hall; by inheritance to John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, [1834-1902] 1st Baron Acton of Aldenham; (Acton sale, Christie's, London, 20 June 1896, no. 77 as Italian School); Johnson, probably buying for Sir Francis Cook [1817-1901], 1st Bart., Doughty House, Surrey; by inhertitance to Sir Frederick Lucas Cook [1844-1920], 2nd Bart.. Doughty House; by inheritance to Sir Herbert Frederick Cook [1868-1939], 3rd Bart., Doughty House; Sir Francis Ferdinand Maurice Cook, 4th bt. [1907-1978], Doughty House, and Cothay Manor, Somerset; sold 1948; [1] (Count Alessandro Contini Bonacossi) [1878-1955] Rome-Florence); sold to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation on 10 March 1949; gift to Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in 1961, no 61.44.15. [1] See concordance of Cook Collection Paintings, assembled on the occasion of the publication of Elon Danziger,"The Cook Collection, its founder and inheritors," Burlington Magazine CXLVI, no. 1216, July 2004, no. 108.

Catalogue Entry

Cesare da Sesto
Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist and Saint George

San Francisco, Calif., M. H. De Young Memorial Museum (61-44-15), since 1955.(1) Transferred from wood to pressed wood. 100 1/4 x 81 in. (254.7 x 205.8 cm.). Poor condition; abraded throughout; transferred and cleaned 1953-54. While the playful pose and expression of the Child may have been inspired by Leonardo, Raphael's Parnassus seems to have furnished the model for the Apollo in the bas relief below the Madonna; and the reliefs of the Judgment of Solomon, the St. Lucy (or Agatha ?), and the various arabesques may owe something to Raphael's stanze. Further, the St. George is sometimes thought to reflect an acquaintance with Giorgione's Castelfranco Madonna or with Sebastiano del Piombo's work in Rome.(2) Very likely the display of marble fragments, as well as the reliefs of Classical subjects on the base of the throne, are intended to pay homage to ancient Rome. K1625 was probably painted around 1515/20, certainly before 1521, the date on Giampietrino's altarpiece in the Duomo at Pavia, which is obviously influenced by K1625 throughout.(3) A number of drawings by Cesare da Sesto have been identified as studies for K1625.(4) In his three-quarter-length Madonna and Child with St. Catherine and St. Joseph in the Hermitage Gallery, Leningrad, the central group exactly duplicates that in K1625; but which of the two paintings is the earlier is a disputed question.(5) Provenance: San Domenico, Messina.(6) Sold after 1775 to the following.(7) Sir John Acton (1736-1811), Prime Min­ister of Naples under Ferdinand IV. Sir John Acton (probably son of the preceding) –exhibited: British Institution, 1849, no. 76, as Cesare da Sesto. Anonymous sale (Christie's, London, June 20, 1896, no. 77, as Italian School; bought by the following). Cook Collection, Richmond, Surrey (catalogue by T. Borenius, vol. I, 1913, no. 108, as Cesare da Sesto).(8) Contini Bonacossi, Florence. Kress acquisition, 1949.


(1) Catalogue by W. E. Suida, 1955, p. 56, as Cesare da Sesto. (2) See H. F. Cook, in Gazette des Beaux-Arts, vol. XXI, 1899, p. 26, and in Les Arts, no. 44, 1905, p. 8; Suida, Leonardo und sein Kreis, 1929, p. 221. (3) Giampietrino's altarpiece is reproduced by F. Malaguzzi Valeri, in Rassegna d'Arte, vol. VIII, 1905, p. 23. B. Berenson (North Italian Painters of the Renaissance, 1907, p. 195, and later editions) lists K1625 as late; R. Longhi (in ms. opinion) thinks it at least before 1521. (4) These drawings, in the J. Pierpont Morgan Collection, New York (reproduced in Two Lombard Sketch Books, 1910, edited by C. Fairfax Murray) are discussed by Suida, in the catalogue cited in note 1, above. (5) The Leningrad version is reproduced by Malaguzzi Valeri, p. 22 of op. cit. in note 3, above, where it is presumed to antedate K1625. This seems to be the order once accepted also by Suida (Leonardo und sein Kreis, 1929, p. 221), although later (loc. cit. in note 1, above) he reverses the order. (6) K1625 answers the description of the painting which P. Samperi (Messina illustrata, vol. I, 1742, p. 613) says was painted by Cesare da Sesto for San Domenico (citation taken from Suida, loco cit. in note 1, above, and Borenius' catalogue cited under Provenance, above). (7) See (according to Suida, loc. cit. in note 1, above, and Borenius' catalogue) Memorie de' pittori messinesi ... , 1821. (8) K1625 was not in the Lombard exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1898, as frequently stated, although it was mentioned in the exhibition catalogue.

Catalogue Volume

Italian Paintings XV – XVI Century