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Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist

copy after Andrea d'Agnolo called Andrea del Sarto

(Florence 1486 - 1531)

Once believed to have been part of the estate of Olimpia Aldobrandini, this painting is one of many derivations of the central panel of the Sarzana altarpiece by Andrea del Sarto, which was destroyed by fire in the wake of the bombing of the city of Berlin in 1945. Dating to the same period as the original, this replica was executed by an artist of the master’s circle. It depicts the Virgin holding the small Jesus in the company of John the Baptist.

Object details

First half of 16th century
oil on panel
cm 85 x 68

Salvator Rosa, 105 x 90 cm


Rome, Borghese Collection, 1833 (Inventario Fidecommissario Borghese 1833, p. 8); purchased by Italian state, 1902.

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1906 Luigi Bartolucci (pest control)
  • 1941 Carlo Matteucci
  • 1964 Alvaro Esposti


The provenance of this painting is still unknown. According to Paola della Pergola (1959), it may correspond to one of the ‘Madonnas’ listed under the name of Andrea del Sarto in the inventories of the Aldobrandini family. While this theory is certainly plausible, the lack of more precise descriptions in the inventory entries does not allow us to uphold it with certainty.

Both the Inventario Fidecommissario (1833) and Giovanni Piancastelli (1891) listed the panel as a ‘Holy Family, Florentine school’. Adolfo Venturi (1891) proposed a more specific attribution to the Florentine painter Giuliano Bugiardini, but his idea was rejected first by Roberto Longhi (1928) and then definitively by Della Pergola, who in 1959 published the work as a ‘copy after Andrea del Sarto’ by an assistant to the Florentine master (see also Shearman 1965). In Della Pergola’s view, the work is contemporary with the original, namely the lost Sarzana altarpiece, which was destroyed in a fire during the bombing of the city of Berlin in 1945. In the opinion of Sidney J. Freedberg (1963), the anonymous painter copied and simultaneously adapted Andrea del Sarto’s Madonna and Child and the Infant Saint John in the Kress Collection (inv. 449, 1081), which in turn derives from the Berlin painting.

Antonio Iommelli

  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 282;
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 164;
  • L. Cust, La collection de M. R. H. Benson, in "Les Arts", I, XX, 1907, p. 28;
  • M. Carmichael, T. Borenius, Catalogue of Italian pictures at 16, South Street, Park Lane, London and Buckhurst in Sussex collected by Robert and Evelyn Benson, London 1914, p. 73;
  • J. A. Crowe, G.B. Cavalcaselle, A History of Painting in Italy, a cura di B. Borenius, London 1914, p. 191;
  • A. Venturi, Storia dell’Arte Italiana, vol. IX-l, 1925, p. 426;
  • F. Knapp, Andrea del Sarto, Leipzig 1928, p. 114;
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 208;
  • B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the The Renaissance, Oxford 1932, p. 19;
  • J. Fraenckel, Andrea del Sarto, Gemälde und Zeichnnungen, Strassburg 1935, p. 229;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, II, Roma 1959, pp. 13-14, n. 7;
  • S. J. Freedberg, Andrea del Sarto, II, Cambridge 1963, p. 174;
  • P. della Pergola, L’Inventario Borghese del 1693 (II), in “Arte Antica e Moderna”, XXVIII, 1964, p. 467;
  • J. Shearman, Andrea del Sarto, II, Oxford 1965, p. 292;
  • 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. 110.