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Francesco d’Ubertino Verdi, called ‘Il Bacchiacca’ (1494 -1557, Saint Catherine of Alexandria. Oil on panel, 86 x 56 cm

LONDON - Moretti Fine Art will be exhibiting at the first Frieze Masters, a new art fair taking place in Regent’s Park, London, from 11 to 14 October 2012. Moretti Fine Art, which has galleries in Florence, New York and London, will present a selection of Italian Old Master paintings with a particular emphasis on the Renaissance. Fabrizio Moretti, who is a member of the Selection Committee for Frieze Masters, said: “We are delighted to be taking part in this exciting new event which we hope will attract new clients for works of art of high quality which have stood the test of time”.

Frieze Masters, which will feature some ninety of the world’s leading galleries, aims to give a contemporary perspective on the relationship between old and new art, from ancient times to the 20th century, and is staged to coincide with Frieze Art Fair, which concentrates on contemporary art. The two fairs will make London in October the focus for the international art world and it is hoped that they will both benefit from a crossover between audiences for contemporary and older art. 

Amongst the fine paintings to be shown by Moretti will be Saint Catherine of Alexandria by Francesco d’Ubertino Verdi, called ‘Il Bacchiacca’ (1494-1557), a Florentine Mannerist artist who in 1540 became a painter at the court of Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici. The panel, which has escaped scholarly attention until now, is unpublished except for a colour reproduction in an advertisement in 1994 for a French auction house. The composition and execution are comparable to many of Bacchiacca’s known works including his Portrait of a Lute Player, now in the Kress Collection at the New Orleans Museum of Art, and his Magdalene in the Pitti Palace, and may have been executed around the same time in the early 1530s. 

Nativity by Liberale da Verona (1445-1526/29) was formerly part of the collection of Philipp von Stosch (1691-1757), a famous antiques dealer and Prussian patron who spent time in Florence and Rome and was friends with Cardinal Alessandro Albani. Liberale, one of the most inventive and interesting Veronese artists, probably learned the principles of drawing from the Olivetan monk Sebastiano da Rovigno who brought the young artist with him in 1466 when he was called to work as inlayer and miniaturist in the convent at Monteoliveto. In 1467 Liberale is recorded as having painted miniatures for the convent and then worked on precious choir books, now preserved in the Museo della Cattedrale at Chiusi and in the famous Libreria Piccolomini of the Duomo in Siena. This Nativity, painted after his return to Verona, may be compared to the Epiphany for the main altar of the Calcasoli chapel in the Cathedral of Verona which was finished in the late 1480s and was praised by Carlo del Bravo. Both works have the same inventive freshness that can be observed in the group of angelic spirits behind the figure of Mary and the rabbits in the foreground. 

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Liberale da Verona (1445-1526/29), Nativity. Oil on panel, 83.7 x 62 cm

Madonna and Child enthroned between Saints Lawrence and Anastasia by Giovanni di Marco, called ‘Giovanni dal Ponte’, comes from an English private collection. A remarkable gold-ground work, this altarpiece was made for private devotion even though it is of considerable size. It is an important addition to the oeuvre of dal Ponte, a fascinating and original artist who was a major protagonist on the Florentine artistic scene at the beginning of the 15th century. According to Christian tradition, the martyr Anastasia, who is linked to the concept of chastity, was burnt alive on 25 December 304 on the orders of the emperor Diocletian. Representations of Saint Anastasia are relatively rare so it is likely that this work was commissioned on the occasion of a marriage of two people with the saints’ names, Lawrence and Anastasia. 

Distinguished by the ample and flowing folds of the draperies, the almost sculptural character of the central group suggests that Giovanni dal Ponte was moving away from the late gothic towards the style of the more innovative artists of the day such as Francesco d’Antonio, Arcangelo di Cola and Masaccio. This work of high quality probably dates from the second half of the 1420s. 

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Giovanni di Marco, called ‘Giovanni dal Ponte’ (1385-1437), Madonna and Child enthroned between Saints Lawrence and Anastasia. Oil on panel, 90.5 x 51 cm