Fontana + The GothicNew York
The Holy Family with the Infant Saint John the Baptist, c. 1510
LiteratureA. G. De Marchi, Da Bernardo Daddi a Giorgio Vasari, Florence, 1999, pp. 179-84.
Clothed in a red dress and a blue robe with a green lining, the Virgin is shown gently cradling the young Christ in her arms. He playfully tugs at her mantle, though His gaze is pensive. Saint Joseph, depicted as an elderly man with a beard and grey hair, guides the young John the Baptist, whose hands are clasped in prayer, so that he may look upon the Christ Child. The scene takes place in a placid landscape, with a church in the distance.
Previously attributed by Brianti to the late Renaissance Mannerist painter Giuliano Bugiardini (oral communication), this tondo is undoubtedly the work of a Florentine artist, from the first or second decade of the sixteenth century. According to Andrea De Marchi, it should be attributed to Raffaello Botticini, son of the more famous Francesco. The stylistic repertoire of the younger Botticini was chiefly based on the examples of Domenico Ghirlandaio and Fra Bartolomeo, and often paraphrases the latter’s style.
Raffaello Botticini’s activity, having previously been confused with that of other painters, has been substantially clarified in studies by Federico Zeri and later Everett Fahy (F. Zeri, “Raffaello Botticini,” Gazette des Beaux-Arts, s. 6, LXXII, 1968, pp. 159–70, reprinted in Giorno per Giorno nella Pittura. Scritti sull’arte del Cinquecento, Turin, 1994, pp. 13–17, and E. Fahy, Some Followers of Domenico Ghirlandaio, New York, 1976). The style of this tondo is mainly reminiscent of the manner of Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio, who, together with Domenico Ghirlandaio and Fra Bartolomeo, as mentioned above, was an important point of reference for Raffaello Botticini. Amongst the works by Ridolfo most closely comparable to the present in terms of composition and style are the Adoration of the Child with Saint Joseph and Angels (1500–24) in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in Berlin and the Holy Family (1515) in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.
Similarly solemn facial features also recur in the altarpiece with the Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints (1500–20) in the Chiesa dei Santi Martino e Giusto in Lucardo. Other affinities are to be found in the Lamentation (1508) in the Museo della Collegiata in Empoli, in which the faces and figures all recall the present work. Another corresponding image is the Nativity with Saints (1512) in the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, in which the Virgin and the Child echo those in this tondo. Such comparisons help to date the present work, and Andrea De Marchi places it around 1510.
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