In the 1970’s the well respected Michelangelo scholar Professor Michael Hirst of the Courtauld Institute of Art London University, saw four lunettes in fresco for sale in a Roman dealer’s shop. Professor Hirst recognised their quality and noted they were possibly by Salviati. Some time later he reported this sighting to Dottoressa Maria Fossi-Todorow, a fellow art historian who also happens to be related to the previous owner of the lunettes. Dott.ssa Fossi-Todorow still lives in the Florentine palazzo where the lunettes decorated the loggia surrounding the ground floor courtyard. The frescoes, painted c.1560? by Francesco de' Rossi (called Salviati) were detached and sold by her grandfather Federgio Fossi earlier this century.  Senor Fossi was so distressed at losing the Salviati lunettes that he painted careful reproductions of them over photographs on glass plates to keep as a “ricordo”.  It is these reproductions that are published here  with kind permission from Dott.ssa Fossi-Todorow.
The Palazzo Mellini-Fossi is situated in via dei Benci next to the famous Piazza Santa Croce and has recently undergone an extensive restoration that revealed marvellous polychromic frescoes painted on the facade after designs by Salviati circa 1575.
It is therefore of great interest to the restoration project and to Dott.ssa Fossi-Todorow if the lunettes could be traced. 

CONTACT : Any information about the whereabouts of the lunettes can be directed to Raichel Le Goff of Trinity College, Oxford who is conducting research on the Palazzo. 
All information will be treated with the utmost confidentiality. You can write  or you can write to her at:

May 2004 update :

It is my strong suggestion that the present owner or representative of the auction house be contacted through Raichel Le Goff prior any move to sell the paintings through an  auction house anywhere in Europe or elsewhere.. 

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Palazzo Mellini-Fossi, Florence

NB: Please bear in mind that the frescoes could have been transferred to canvas and the lunette shape may also have been altered - so any knowledge of large paintings with matching iconography would still be welcome. The exact dimensions of the lunettes are  not known. They would have been at least one metre in length.

 Click on the links below to see the reproductions of the four lunettes and to read more about them

1. Le pieridi trasformate in cornacchie "The Pierids transformed into Crows"

2. Aracne sfida Minerva "Minerva Challenged by Arachne"

3. Atteone trasformato in cervo "Actaeon transformed into a Stag"

4. Come Mida ebbe le orecchie d'asino "Midas with the ears of an Ass"

About the artist : Born in Florence Francesco de'Rossi in 1510, he took the name Salviati from an early patron of that name. He worked in Rome and Florence, with visits to Venice (1539-41) and France (1554-5). Salviati died in Florence 1563.

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The Art of the Steal: Inside the Sotheby'S-Christie's Auction House Scandal
Written by Christopher Mason
Published by Putnam Pub Group (May 2004)
ISBN 0399150935

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