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Madonna and Child with the Young John the Baptist and Sts Joseph and Anthony of Padua

Follower of Tisi Benvenuto called Garofalo

(Garofalo or Ferrara 1476 - Ferrara 1559)

This painting seems to be listed in the inventory of 1693, but this cannot be confirmed. It appears to be a product of the artist’s school and its size suggests that it was commissioned for private use. The inclusion of St Anthony of Padua, which is unusual for a Holy Family with the young St John the Baptist, might indicate that the patron was especially devoted to him.

Object details

1540 circa
oil on panel
cm 50 x 30,5

Borghese collection, documented in the Inventario fidecommissario Borghese 1833, p. 21. Purchased by the Italian state, 1902.

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1903-1905, Luigi Bartolucci (pest control)
  • 2008, Paola Mastropasqua - Andrea Parri
  • 2019, Fabiola Jatta (painting and frame)
  • 2020, Measure3D di Danilo Salzano (laser scan 3D)
  • 2020, Erredicci (diagnostics)
  • 2020, IFAC-CNR (diagnostics)


The only certain inventory documentation of this small painting is in the Fidecommesso of 1833, in which it is described as a ‘Madonna and Child with other saints by Benvenuto Garofalo, 1 palmi and 7 oncie long, 2 palmi and 7 oncie wide, on wood, with a round arched top’.

The painting depicts the Virgin Mary nursing the Christ Child, who is no longer a newborn and sits on a cushion with gold tassels. To his left, the little John the Baptist is embraced by Mary as if to encourage him to draw near, perhaps curious about the nursing. He is watched from above by the elderly Joseph, who is sitting on a marble plinth. This same architectural element is mirrored on the other side of the composition, near St Anthony of Padua, who can be identified by the white lily and the book.

The figures are set in a woody landscape where we can glimpse a rustic house in the distance.

The work cannot be securely attributed to Garofalo, and scholars have always unanimously believed that it was painted by a follower.

Lara Scanu

  • E. Platner, Bes Chreibung der Stadt Rom, III.3. Das Marsfeld, die Tiberinsel, Trastevere und der Janiculus, III, Stuttgart 1842, p. 277
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 125
  • E. G. Gardner, The Painters of the School of Ferrara, London 1911, p. 174
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle gallerie italiane. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928 (ed. 1967), p. 343, n. 208
  • P. Della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Roma 1955, n. 62
  • P. Della Pergola, L’Inventario Borghese del 1693, «Arte Antica e Moderna», 26, 1964, p. 221
  • B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Central Italian and North Italian Schools, I, London 1968, p. 157
  • 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, p. 176, scheda 27