It goes without saying that in order to trace the provenance of a manuscript (whether it be a codex, leaf, or cutting) from an auction to its subsequent owners, you need to identify who bought it at the auction. First, you usually need to find an annotated copy of the catalogue; then you need to be able to read the name of the buyer. If you are lucky, it will be a well-known and very distictive name, such as the dealers Quaritch, Dobell, or Colnaghi; or a collector like Cockerell, Riches, or Korner, each of whom is fairly easy to pursue further. Sometimes the name is only semi-legible or it is very common (Smith, Jones, etc.). Sometimes it is legible and reasonably uncommon, but unfamiliar; in this post I'll consider one such example.
At the 1838 auction of the collection of W.Y. Ottley, lots 86 and 179 (and only these two lots) were bought by "Dawkins".
The first of these appears among a group of lots, many of which have the "B.F." initials of the so-called Master B.F.:
86 One—The Madonna, Child and St. Ann, with Landscape background, a most elegant composition, not unworthy of Leonardo da Vinci
The comparison of the composition with Leonardo suggests that it may look somewhat like his version of The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne, with the Virgin sitting on Anne's lap:
The second lot occurs among a group of four lots (lots 177-180) of which the three others are all from the Laudario of Sant'Agnese, which again gives us a good clue as to what it looks like:
179 The Ascension, richly gilt, in a border, supposed to be painted by Giotto
In fact, in 1937 de Ricci identified this as a Laudario leaf that was then in the Lehman Collection, and is now at the Getty Museum (of which a detail is shown at the top of this page):
|JPGM MS 80a [Source]|
Here the buyer appears to have been "Zink", such an unusual name that he ought to be very easy to identify, but so far I have failed, and I suspect that I am misreading the name. (Or was he perhaps an ancestor of Fritz Zink, author of Die Handzeichnungen bis zur Mitte des 16. Jahrhunderts?)“Our Saviour in a pandora [recte madorla] of glory, adorned by Angels in the clouds; beneath, the Virgin and Saints kneeling. A leaf from a choir-book. Florentine, in the manner of the second half of the 15th Century. From the Ottley Collection”
“336 J. Clovio–A capital letter O, from a missal, with the Virgin and Child seated in the lap of St. Anne, in brilliant colours, on gold ground, on vellum, in gilt frame”
|Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, Marley Cutting Z.3 [Source]|