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Copy after The Visitation (The meeting of Mary and Elizabeth), Mariotto Albertinelli in the Uffizi (Florence)

  • Object:

    Watercolour

  • Place of origin:

    Florence (Uffizi, copied)

  • Date:

    1869 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Albertinelli, Mariotto di Biagio di Bindo (artist)
    Mariannecci, Cesare (copyist)
    Arundel Society

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour, pen and gold, trace of pencil, on paper

  • Museum number:

    E.3-1995

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H, case PD, shelf 341

  • Public access description

    This watercolour is a copy made by Cesare Mariannecci (Rome 1819 – Florence 1894) after The Visitation by Mariotto Albertinelli (Florence 1474-1515). It was painted for the Arundel Society, founded in 1848 to promote knowledge of art through the publication of reproductions of works of art. The Arundel Society popularised Renaissance art, particularly that of the Italian Old Masters, echoing a growing interest for ‘primitives’ (art of Western Europ prior to the Renaissance) in the second half of the nineteenth century. This watercolour was published in 1875 (Museum No.27418).

    The painting is one of the most famous by Albertinelli. The artist was trained in Cosimo Rosselli (1439-1507) workshop and he became a pupil of Fra Bartolomeo (1472-1517). The painting was painted in 1503 as part of an altarpiece for S. Martino Church in Florence. Albertinelli produced very innovative panels like this however, in some cases, he used a late medieval style.

  • Physical description

    Arch-topped drawing of two female figures. On the left the figure of a woman, St Elizabeth, in a green and yellow robe, kisses on the cheek, the figure of a woman to the right, the Virgin Mary, dressed in blue and red. Behind them there is the decorated arch of a porch.

  • Marks and inscriptions

    Inscribed in black ink C. Mariannecci A. 1869 fece

  • Dimensions

    Height: 639 mm, Width: 403 mm, :

  • Object history note

    Transfered in 1995 from the National Gallery of London.
    Watercolour copy made for the Arundel Society and published as a chromolithograph (Museum No. 27418) in 1875 by Hangard-Mauge under the supervision of C. Schultz.

  • Historical context note

    Original work
    This watercolour is a copy after The Visitation by Mariotto Albertinelli (Florence 1474-1515), dated 1503. Albertinelli was trained in the Cosimo Rosselli workshop (1439-157) and worked in partnership with Fra Bartolomeo (1472-1517), undertaking important commissions for catholic clients. Originally, his style was closer to the Fra Bartolomeo’s technique but his later work is closer in manner to Perugino (1450-1523), who worked in the same circle of Albertinelli.

    The Visitation is Albertinelli’s best known and most well documented painting. It was the central panel of an altarpiece for the S. Martino Church, Florence. Together with he predella, the lower part of an altarpiece composed by small paintings which should complete the altarpiece, the painting is now in the Uffizi (Florence). Here, the austerity and darker contrast of Fra Bartolomeo, and the colourfulness of Perugino coexist. The Arundel Society commissioned the copy of this painting in reaction to the increasing interest in the mid-nineteenth century for ‘primitives’, to whom Albertinelli belongs.

    Arundel Society
    The Arundel Society was founded in 1848 to promote knowledge of the art through the publication of reproductions of works of art. The Society was named after Thomas Howard, 2nd Earl of Arundel (1585-1646), important aristocratic patron and collector of the early Stuart period. The Society was intended to reach the largest possible audience through these reproductions. Subjects were chosen because of their instructive meaning rather than their popularity. In addition to copies of famous paintings, the Society published an English translation of Giorgio Vasari’s (1511-1574) Lives of the most excellent painters, made in 1850 by Giovanni Aubrey Bezzi (1785-1789), one of the founding members of the Society.

    The Arundel Society popularised Renaissance art, particularly that of the Italian Old Masters, echoing a growing interest for ‘primitives’ (art of Western Europ prior to the Renaissance) in the second half of the nineteenth century. The founding members of the Arundel Society were all acknowledge experts on Italian art. For instance, Sir Charles Eastlake (1793–1865; painter and art administrator), whose house was the meeting point of the Society, was Director of the National Gallery in London from 1855 until 1865 and during his tenure, he began one of the finest collections of Italian art in Britain.

    Other preeminent members were John Ruskin (1819-1900, English writer, painter and collector), who supervised projects including the watercolours series of the Upper and Lower Church in Assisi, and Sir Austen H. Layard (1817-1894; English archaeologist, politician, diplomat, collector and writer). Layard lived and travelled in Italy for many years and his knowledge of the country’s art was extensive. It was thanks to Layard’s funding that the Society were able to publish copies of the watercolours made at their direction using chromolithography. Although photography was increasingly popular, as photographs could only be made in black and white, chromolithography was chosen as it was felt to be closer to the principals of the Arundel Society: they were coloured and had the aura of traditional prints. In this way, copies were more like the originals.

    The Society reached the height of its popularity in the 1860s. However, by the end of the century, it faced mounting criticism with regards to the accuracy of its watercolour copies. The Society ceased its activities in 1897. At this time the availability of second hand prints had increased and the Society found it difficult to find market for its chromolithographs. Moreover, photographic reproductions were becoming increasingly popular thanks to technical advances.The last display of the Arundel Society’s watercolours took place at the National Gallery and when the Society was dissolved, some watercolours were given to that Institution, while others were acquired by the then South Kensington Museum (now V&A). The outstanding watercolours were transferred from the National Gallery to the V&A in the 1990s.

    Copyist
    The copy of The Visitation was painted by Cesare Mariannecci (1819-1894), an artist trained in the Accademia di San Luca in Rome. He moved to Florence in 1859, where he was principally active. He was one of the most productive copyist engaged by the Arundel Society and worked for many years making more than 85 watercolours for the Society. His first copies were not very detailed and did not record deterioration and colours accurately from the originals. After many criticism from the influential magazine Athenaeum, in 1864 Mariannecci was instructed by the Arundel Society to reproduce the originals as faithfully as possible, avoiding his personal interpretation.

  • Descriptive line

    Watercolour, copy after The Visitation (The meeting of Mary and Elizabeth), Mariotto Albertinelli in the Uffizi (Florence), Cesare Mariannecci, Arundel Society watercolour, 1869

  • Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

    Tanya Ledger, A Study of the Arundel Society 1848-1897. Unpublished thesis submitted for degree of Doctor of Philosophy, University of Oxford, 1978, p.282
    Ludovico Borgo, The works of Mariotto Albertinelli, New York : Garland, 1976

  • Collection code

    Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection