Provenance Research

Alonso Cano (1601-1667)
St. John the Baptist, ca. 1645-50
Oil on canvas
72 7/8 x 44 1/2 in. (185.1 x 113 cm)
Fanny Bryce Lehmer Endowment, 1964.69

Saint John is seated on a rock with a violet cloth draped across his lap; he holds a staff and banner reading "Ecce agnus dei." A lamb rests in the lower right corner. Dense foliage fills the space behind and to the right of Saint John. In the left background is a vast landscape.

Alternate Titles:
Johannes der Täufer
San Juan Bautista en el Desierto
St. John the Baptist in the Desert


    Baron Gaspard Gourgaud [1783-1852], France, presumably by descent to [1]
    Baron Napoleon Gourgaud [d. 1944], Paris [2]
By 1957-February 16, 1960:   (Julius Böhler, Munich, sold to [3])
February 16, 1960-June 1964:   (F. Kleinberger & Co., Inc., New York, sold to [4])
June 1964-present:   Cincinnati Art Museum [5]

[1]According to F. Kleinberger & Co., New York. See stockcard no. 1379, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and correspondence, November 29, 1962.

[2] Napoleon Gourgand was listed as a former owner by Julius Böhler in Meisterwerke Alter Kunst, Summer 1958, no. 39. Gourgaud's American wife, Eva Gephard Gourgaud, returned to the United States after her husband's death and hired a lawyer to handle her husband's estate. It is not known if the painting left Gourgaud's collection before his death in 1944 or if it was a part of his estate.

[3] In 1958, Harold Wethey published the painting as being in a private collection in Germany, and the painting's provenance has generally cited a private collection after Böhler. According to correspondence between Wethey and the CAM in 1979, Wethey first came into contact with the painting at Julius Böhler's gallery in Munich. This would have been between 1955, when the author published his first book on Cano (which did not include the painting), and 1958. Böhler included the painting in an exhibition in the summer of 1958. The painting was sold to F. Kleinberger & Co., Inc., New York, in February 1960. It is unknown if Böhler actually sold the painting to a private collector sometime during the years 1958 to 1960, who subsequently resold it to him. Kleinberger & Co., Inc. stock card no. 1379, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, does not record a German private collection on the painting's provenance. It seems likely that the private collection to which Wethey referred was actually Böhler; thus, the "private collection" has been eliminated from the present provenance. See: Julius Böhler, Meisterwerke Alter Kunst, Summer 1958, no. 39; Harold Wethey, Alonso Cano: painter, sculptor, architect, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1955; idem, Alonso Cano, Pintor, Madrid, 1958, plate 21 and p. 34; and correspondence, April 8, 1979 and January 22, 2002.

[4] The sale transaction between F. Kleinberger & Co., Inc. and Böhler, Munich, is documented on F. Kleinberger & Co. Inc. stock card no. 1379, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In previous recorded histories, H. Sperling has been listed separately from F. Kleinberger & Co. Inc.; however, Harry G. Sperling was the director of Kleinberger, and the stock card at the Metropolitan Museum of Art does not make any reference to Sperling owning the painting separately from the company. Also, Sperling signed some of the letters from F. Kleinberger & Co, Inc. to the CAM regarding the Cano.

[5] F. Kleinberger & Co., Inc. and Frederick Mont, a New York dealer, may have jointly sold the painting to the CAM. Millard Rogers, Spanish Paintings at the Cincinnati Art Museum, 1978, pp. 9-10.

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