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Madonna and Child

Follower of Vannucci Pietro called Perugino

(Città della Pieve 1450 - Fontignano 1524)

This painting figures among the later acquisitions of the Borghese Collection. Originally attributed to Perugino, today critics agree that it was by one of his followers. Although it adopts motifs and formal strategies that were dear to the master, the anonymous artist does not in fact manage to infuse the composition with that sense of grace and harmony typical of Perugino’s oeuvre.

The panel depicts the Virgin Mary holding the little Jesus on her lap. The Child is portrayed nude with a red cruciform halo. A broad landscape with trees and architectural structures extends behind them, interrupted in the centre by a dark curtain that separates the two figures from the background.

Object details

Mid-16th century
oil on panel
cm 48 x 35

Salvator Rosa, 55.4 x 50.7 x 5 cm


Rome, Borghese Collection, 1833 (Inventario Fidecommissario Borghese 1833, p. 35; Della Pergola 1955). Purchased by Italian state, 1902.

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1907 Luigi Bartolucci (pest control)


The provenance of this painting is unknown. It was in fact only first mentioned in connection with the collection of the Casino of Porta Pinciana in 1833, when the Inventario Fidecommissario listed it as a panel by Perugino. Later critics, however, were not persuaded by this attribution, beginning with Giovanni Piancastelli (1891), who wrote of the ‘school of Perugino’, and Adolfo Venturi (1893) who deemed the composition one of those which derived from the master, executed on a number of occasions by Spagna and Eusebio da San Giorgio.

Building on a theory put forth by Cavalcaselle, Roberto Longhi (1928) proposed an attribution to Giovan Battista Bertucci of Faenza. This idea was, however, rejected by Paola della Pergola (1955), who maintained that the painter was a late follower of the school of Perugino, an opinion accepted by all later critics (Todini 1989; Herrmann Fiore 2006).

Antonio Iommelli

  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 288;
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 176;
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 213;
  • F. Canuti, Il Perugino, II, Siena 1931, p. 381;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Roma 1955, p. 91 n. 161;
  • F. Todini, La pittura umbra: dal Duecento al primo Cinquecento, II, Milano 1989, p. 279;
  • 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. 121.