This work belongs to a series depicting Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Gregory, key figures of early Catholicism. Saint Ambrose (about AD 340-391), the bishop of Milan, resolved important theological conflicts within the Church and worked effectively with advocates of Roman paganism.
The low viewpoint and large scale suggest that this painting hung high on the wall of a religious institution, but its original location remains unknown. In the late 1700s, Spain expelled all the Jesuits and sparked a transformation of the Church. Many of these reformers turned back to early Church history for inspiration, and Saint Ambrose was probably commissioned by one of these new organizations.
Rome, Valle Guilia, Galeria Nazionale d'arte Modera, 1930: "gli Antichi Pittori Spagnoli della collezione Contini-Bonacossi," cat. # 28, pl. XIX.
CMA 1970: "Year in Review 1969," Bulletin LVII (January, 1970), cat. # 145, repr. pl. I (clr).
Madrid, Spain, Prado Museum, October 4-December 18, 1988: "Goya and the Spirit of Enlightenment," cat. # 22, pp. 50-55, repr. clr. p. 52, detail p. 53 (clr.) Boston, MA, Museum of Fine Arts, January 18-March 26, 1989, New York, NY, Metropolitan Museum of Art, May 9-July 16, 1989
Lille, France: Palais de Beaux-Arts de Lille 12/11/98 - 3/21/99; Philadelphia Museum of Art 4/11/99 - 7/11/99 "Goya, un regard libre (Goya, Another Look)"
Cleveland, Ohio: The Cleveland Museum of Art; February 20 - May 29, 2005. "Masterworks from The Phillips Collection". Not in exh. cat.
|Until 1928||Marques de la Cueva del Rey, sold to Galerie Heinemann1|
|1928-1930||(Galerie Heinemann, Munich, sold to Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi)2|
|1930-probably 1955||Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi [1878-1955], Florence, by descent to his heirs3|
|Probably 1955-late 1950s||Family of Contini-Bonacossi, probably consigned to Pinakos, Inc.4|
|Late 1950s-1969||(Pinakos, Inc./Rudolf J. Heinemann, New York, sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art)5|
|1969-||The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio|
1The title of the Marqueses de la Cueva del Rey was created by Carlos II of Spain in 1690, and so it is possible that the family were the original owners of the painting, and that it remained in their possession from its execution in the late 1790s until 1928.
2The painting’s Heinemann inventory number was 18609.
3Contini-Bonacossi began collecting and dealing works of art around 1918, after settling in Rome. While he acquired the Goya prior to the war, Contini-Bonacossi did engage in wartime art dealing with Hermann Göring. Contini-Bonacossi sold a large number of works to Göring through art dealer Andreas Hofer; the OSS Consolidated Interrogation Report No. 2 contains a list of 49 artworks purchased by Hofer on behalf of Göring from Contini-Bonacossi (Saint Ambrose was not among them). In 1927 Contini-Bonacossi met Samuel H. Kress in Rome and began to sell him works of art. He continued to do so during Kress's annual trips to Italy which lasted until 1941, when both Italy and the United States ceased to be neutral nations in the war. Contini-Bonacossi resumed his art business dealings with Kress in the late 1940s and 1950. He also sold hundreds of works to the Kress Foundation, most of which were later donated to the National Gallery of Art. Contini-Bonacossi promised to bequeath his entire collection to the Italian state, but ultimately, only 144 works were actually given to the Italian state; they are now part of the Uffizi collection. Saint Ambrose was among those works not bequeathed to Italy; the painting instead remained in his family at least until the late 1950s.
4Contini-Bonacossi’s heirs likely consigned the painting to Pinakos, Inc. after his death in 1955.
5In the 1940s and 1950s, Pinakos, Inc. was the firm name used by Rudolf Heinemann.
Accounts Payable Voucher, Pinakos, Inc., to the Cleveland Trust Company, Jan. 29, 1970.
Cleveland Museum of Art. European Paintings of the 16th, 17th, and 18th Centuries. Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art, 1982.
Fulvia Zaninelli, email to Victoria Sears Goldman, Jan. 22, 2014, in CMA curatorial file.
Fulvia Zaninelli, email to Victoria Sears Goldman, Jan. 22, 2014.
Fundación Goya en Aragón, accessed March 14, 2014. http://www.fundaciongoyaenaragon.es/goya/obra/catalogo/.
Galerie Heinemann Online, accessed March 16, 2014, http://heinemann.gnm.de/en/search.html.
Gassier, Pierre, Juliet Wilson Bareau, and François Lachenal. The Life and Complete Work of Francisco Goya; with a Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, Drawings and Engravings. New York: Reynal, in association with W. Morrow, 1971.
Gudiol, José. Goya, 1746-1828. New York: Tudor, 1971.
Morales y Marín, José Luis. Goya: A Catalogue of His Paintings. Saragossa: Real Academia de Nobles y Bellas Artes de San Luis, 1997.