It's no great secret that the Madonna and the Christ child feature heavily in Renaissance Italian painting. On Curarium alone, out of Berenson's 16,000 photos, a quick search of the term "Madonna" returns 3147 records (see figure 0), or almost close to a fifth of the collection. I was very interested in the series of Madonnas after having followed the story of Madonna and Child with the Infant St. John and the stigmatization of St. Francis (see figure 1) as several renditions of it were since reproduced using modern art technology, including removing the circle lens and extending (or restoring) its edges. I was curious to see the differences in all of the Madonnas in the collection but decided it would be much more interesting to focus on all paintings that featured the Madonna with the Christ child, and a third figure. After having browsed through 700 pictures or so in the (see figure 0) visualization, I quickly realized it would be too much to go through all of them and decided to use a sample size of 75 or so pictures (http://imgur.com/a/U3a9z) from the 700 I'd looked that contained exactly three pictures in the image. There did not seem to be a way to filter through the (see figure 0) visualization to reach my hand selected images, and so laid them all out and began to formulate an image map. My knack for image memorization doesn't happen to be as good as Berenson's was, but as I started laying them out, the faces and poses seemed to come up again and again. They could be easily categorized by how the three central figures were arranged. X, Madonna, Christ child; Madonna, Christ child, X; Christ child, X, Madonna, and so on and so forth in all the different combinations. It soon became clear to me that simply figuring out who the third icon was would be boring. It was oftentimes St. Jerome, if it were an old man, St. Anne if it were a woman, and St. John as an infant. The latter of the three was the common, in various interesting poses, displaying a wide range of relationships between himself and the Christ child. Thus, it would not have been that interesting to see what the differences were, and so I decided to explore the similarities. Resorting to a very primitive method of printing out the images as icons and physically moving them around, I was able to create a map (http://goo.gl/ez4UMr links to the map, which correspond to this map key: http://goo.gl/Q6X90O) for myself that allowed me to easily look at the similarities between each object. http://imgur.com/dfkjJRX The columns ended up focusing on how the three figures were positioned. There was one evidently different vertical orientation, (see figure 2) that is fittingly different as is meant to be on a panel, indicated by (see figure 3), but the more traditional objects seemed to follow a prompt. The order of the Madonna, the Christ child, and an older third person included the objects (see figure 4)(see figure 5)(see figure 6)(see figure 7)(see figure 8)(see figure 9), with St. Jerome featuring heavily. The order of the third person, the Christ child, and the Madonna included (see figure 10) (see figure 11) (see figure 12) (see figure 13) (see figure 14). Obviously something about the trio arrangement was magical and evoked a sense of balance, but as I kept arranging the icons around, something peculiar piqued my interest. Putting aside the hilarity derived from examining the expressions and actions between the infant Christ child and the infant St. John, several of the pictures were shockingly and strangely similar. It was not the strange details in the picture that were similar, such as in (see figure 15) and (see figure 16) that caught my eye, but rather in 4 particular pairs of images that were nearly identical. Something about them was always significantly changed, be it the landscape in the back, the headdress, the cropping, the framing, or another noticeable detail. However, the majority of it, including the expressions on the central figures faces were so identical there had to be a reason behind it. It was here that I decided I was most interested in finding out more about these objects, where they originated, why they were so similar, and where they ended up. Comparison 1: http://i.imgur.com/GDwVkRe.jpg Comparison 2: http://i.imgur.com/hlCio1g.jpg Comparison 3: http://i.imgur.com/G2h6LhE.jpg Comparison 4: http://i.imgur.com/Y2TDAJA.jpg One of Comparison 1's images was easy to find. The painting on the left was reverse image searched on Google, and identified to be at the Piazzo Bianco by a tourism blog, which was confirmed by a visit to the museum archives. It was a purchase from Linguardo Fiammetta in 1968 and is a vividly colored oil on canvas http://www.museidigenova.it/zoom/scuolaraffaellesca.jpg entitled The Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist, attributed to School of Raphael. Berenson had indicated that it was created in 1501, and written a note on the back saying "copy after Raphael's "Madonna" at Princeton". It is curious whether or not the object on the right in Comparison 1 is the mentioned copy. It too was created in 1501,
presumably in Raphael's school as indicated in the annotation on the back, but a curious inscription on the back reads "see pamphlet by Sapori and Dondelet". Perhaps this references Sapori, in Rome. Most likely, many copies of this scene were made, and produced into various different forms.
The other objects were all unsuccessful simple searches, but as they were such typical images of the time, I started browsing through vast collections of Madonna and company portraits and looking to annotations to give me a clue.
Comparison 4 had remarkably exciting potential, as the image on the left had a street address, "4 East 43 N.Y.". Inputting this into a map, I had only expected to find a random building, but instead, an abandoned Italianesque building stands there. http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2763/4321703254_4b7816f1be.jpg Unfortunately, it was never an art museum, but rather a department store, and then a piano shop. It may have been under the possession of Mr. Mucoti at one point in time, but this cannot be confirmed, as there are no records of him living there. It is attributed to Francesco Brini, and was at one point under the possession of Theodor Zickendraht, who lived at Charlottestr 27 in Berlin. This brings us to the second of the paintings, which at one point in time was in Wein, Austria. This, like the other painting, was painted in 1541, but is not attributed to Brini, but rather Tosini. (see figure 17) The two artists formed in the Florentine school, where these objects seemed to have originated, and at some point in time moved to Germany, and the last known place of the left one is New York. Comparison 2 is slightly more well documented, with provenances from various auctions. The last reported sightings are in Florence and Naples, respectively, and are both sourced from the Andrea del Sarto school, presumably as a copy work. I was most curious to find out more about Comparison 3, because the one of the right was made in 1508 near Sabatini Andrea, with the Milanese School, and the one on the left was painted in 1541 with Tosini.