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Madonna and Child with a Little Bird

Tisi Benvenuto called Garofalo

(Garofalo or Ferrara 1476 - Ferrara 1559)

Manilli reported this painting in the collection in 1650, describing it as a work by Garofalo, an attribution questioned by later scholars. The features of the Virgin are rendered in an almost academic classicising style that derives from the development of Raphael’s example through the formal approach of Lorenzo Costa and Boccaccio Boccaccino, the latter’s workshop having been where Garofalo began his activity.


Object details

Inventory
210
Location
Date
c. 1517
Classification
Period
Medium
oil on panel
Dimensions
cm 34 x 28
Provenance

Borghese collection, documented in Manilli 1650, p. 68; Inv. 1693, room I, no. 35; Inventario fidecommissario Borghese 1833, p. 10. Purchased by the Italian state, 1902.

Exhibitions
  • 1954, Roma
  • 2008, Ferrara, Castello Estense
Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1903 Luigi Bartolucci 1921 Tito Venturini Papari 1937 Carlo Matteucci 1977 Gianluigi Colalucci 2011 Nicoletta Naldoni 2011 Emmebi (diagnostics) 2020 Measure3D di Danilo Salzano (laser scan 3D) 2020 Erredicci(diagnostics) 2020 ArsMensurae di Stefano Ridolfi (diagnostics) 2020 IFAC-CNR (diagnostics)

Commentary

This simple painting, which creates an intimate devotional connection through the device of looking directly at the viewer/faithful, has all the features of the prefiguration of the fate of Jesus as Salvator Mundi, showing the Christ Child playing with a cardinal, which is a symbol of the Passion.

The first mention of this painting in the Borghese collection was made by Jacopo Manilli (1650), who reports that it was in a space used for the cardinal’s private devotion. The next attestation is found in the inventory of 1693, in which it is described as a ‘Madonna and Child, holding a little bird in his hand, no. 367, on wood, gilt frame, by Garofalo’.

The authorship of the painting has always been agreed almost unanimously and the first date proposed for the work was 1517, on the basis of comparison with the altarpiece for the parish church of San Valentino in Castellarano, which was painted in that year (Venturi 1893; Longhi 1928; Della Pergola 1955). Considered by Berenson to have been painted in the artist’s youth (1907), it was subsequently likened to the style of Boccaccio Boccaccino and proposed to precede the Neptune and Minerva in the Gemäldegalerie, Dresden, which was painted in 1512 (Gardner 1911; inv. Gal.-Nr. 132). The ability to hold together the Giorgionesque palette, Raphaelesque anatomy and distant echoes of Boccaccino make this painting one of the most important stages in the transformation of Garofalo’s language, confirming the dating proposed by Venturi (Herrmann Fiore 2002).

Lara Scanu




Bibliography
  • I. Manilli, Villa Borghese fuori di Porta Pinciana, Roma 1650, p. 68
  • E. Platner, Bes Chreibung der Stadt Rom, III.3. Das Marsfeld, die Tiberinsel, Trastevere und der Janiculus, III, Stuttgart 1842, p. 284
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 124
  • G. Gruyer, L’art Ferrarais a l’époque des Princes d’Este, II, Parigi 1897, p. 324
  • B. Berenson, The North Italian Painters of the Renaissance, New York-London 1907, p. 227
  • E. G. Gardner, The Painters of the School of Ferrara, London 1911, pp. 174, 237
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle gallerie italiane. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 197
  • B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of Renaissance. A list of the Principal Artist and their Works with an Index of Places, Oxford 1932, p. 219
  • B. Berenson, Pitture italiane del Rinascimento: catalogo dei principali artisti e delle loro opere con un indice dei luoghi, Milano 1936, p. 188
  • P. Della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Roma 1955, n. 56
  • B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Central Italian and North Italian Schools, I, London 1968, p. 157
  • A. M. Fioravanti Baraldi, Il Garofalo. Benvenuto Tisi pittore (c. 1476-1559), Rimini 1993, p. 119, n. 45
  • A. Coliva, Galleria Borghese, Roma 1994, pp. 126-127
  • C. Stefani, in Galleria Borghese, a cura di P. Moreno e C. Stefani, Milano 2000, p. 255
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, in Il museo senza confini. Dipinti ferraresi del Rinascimento nelle raccolte romane, a cura di J. Bentini e S. Guarino, Milano 2002, pp. 156-157, scheda 16
  • K. Hermann Fiore, Roma scopre un tesoro. Dalla Pinacoteca ai depositi, un museo che non ha più segreti, Roma 2006, p. 210
  • M. Danieli, scheda n. 21, in Garofalo. Pittore della Ferrara Estense, catalogo della mostra (Ferrara, Castello Estense, 5 aprile - 6 luglio 2008), a cura di T. Kustodieva, M. Lucco, Milano 2008, p. 155