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Holy Family with The Infant Saint John the Baptist

Attributed to Cerrini Gian Domenico

(Perugia 1609 - Rome 1681)

The canvas, of unknown origin, was mentioned for the first time in the Borghese collection from 1833. Critics attribute it to Gian Domenico Cerrini, an artist from Perugia who closely followed the styles and forms of Cristoforo Roncalli, Guido Reni and Giovanni Lanfranco.

The work depicts the Virgin portrayed frontally with little Jesus in her arms. He, in turn, is looking at the child John the Baptist, depicted in profile from behind. Appearing on the right, in an unimportant position for the layout of the scene, is old Joseph whose face, gently caught by the light, shows the signs of aging.

Object details

seconda metà del XVII secolo
oil on canvas
cm 114 x 88

Nineteenth-century frame decorated with palmettes, 138 x 111 x 11 cm


Rome, Borghese Collection, 1833 (Inventario Fidecommissario 1833, p. 21); purchased by the Italian State, 1902

  • 2005-2006 Perugia, Palazzo Baldeschi al Corso.
Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1996-1997 Carlo Ceccotti (restauro della cornice);
  • 2005 Paola Mastropasqua (pulitura, verniciatura, stuccature e reintegrazioni).


This painting is documented for the first time in the Borghese Collection in 1833, when it was described in the fideicommissary lists as by Scipione Pulzone, a name rejected soon after by Adolfo Venturi (1893), who instead proposed Pietro Dandini. In 1924, Hermann Voss, attributed the work to Gian Domenico Cerrini, a proposal rejected by Roberto Longhi (1928), who cautiously attributed this Holy Family to a painter from the ‘Roman-Bolognese School in about 1630’, a theory accepted by Paola della Pergola (1959). Reattributed by Evelina Borea (1978) to Cerrini’s circle, Francesco Federico Mancini (2015) tentatively dated it to that painter’s early period, publishing the work in the artist’s catalogue with a question mark. As correctly observed by Mancini, the painting reveals familiarity with the work of Cristoforo Roncalli, called Pomarancio, updated in the Bolognese style, especially the Holy Family with St Anne and the Infant St John the Baptist in the church of San Carlo al Corso, Rome and a painting of the same subject in a private collection in Piacenza. Longhi, rejecting Voss’s attribution to Gian Domenico, proposed a master from the Roman-Bolognese school, a background that fits with that of Cerrini. 

Antonio Iommelli

  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 355; 
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 158; 
  • H. Voss, Die Malerei des Barock in Rom, Berlin 1924, pp. 280, 558; 
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma, p. 207; 
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, II, Roma 1959, p. 105, n. 152; 
  • E. Borea, Giovanni Domenico Cerrini: opere e documenti, in “Prospettiva”, XII, 1978, p. 24; 
  • F.F. Mancini, scheda in Gian Domenico Cerrini il Cavalier Perugino tra classicismo e barocco, catalogo della mostra (Perugia, Palazzo Baldeschi al Corso, 2005-2006), a cura di F.F. Mancini, Milano 2005, pp. 25, 122 n. 7;  
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, Galleria Borghese Roma scopre un tesoro. Dalla pinacoteca ai depositi un museo che non ha più segreti, San Giuliano Milanese 2006, p. 104.