Once listed in the historical inventories as a work by Perugino, the panel has since been attributed to Jacopo de’ Boateri, one of the many followers of the Bolognese artist Francesco Francia active in the first half of the 16th century. Depicting the Madonna between Saints Anthony the Great and Catherine of Alexandria, the painting seems to take up several of Francia’s motifs, as seen in both the schematic symmetries and the harmonious shapes of the figures, who are immersed in a typical Emilian landscape
19th-century frame decorated with four corner palmettes, 85 x 73 x 7.5 cm
Rome, Borghese Collection, 1790 (Inv. 1790, room I, no. 20; Della Pergola 1955); Inventario Fidecommissario Borghese 1833, p. 8. Purchased by Italian state, 1902.
The provenance of this painting is still unknown. It was first mentioned in connection with the Borghese Collection in 1790, when the inventory of that year attributed it to Pietro Perugino.
By contrast, 1833 Inventario Fidecommissario ascribed the work to Francesco Raibolini, better known as Francesco Francia. The panel undoubtedly reflects certain features of the Bolognese master, attesting to the esteem with which his oeuvre was greeted; indeed his students and numerous followers imitated his works on a number of occasions. As Corrado Ricci proposed – in an oral conversation reported in Giovanni Piancastelli’s notes (1891) – the work was most likely executed by Jacopo de’ Boateri, an Italian painter active in Bologna around the 1540s. Although little is still known about this artist’s career, Ricci’s idea was accepted by subsequent critics (A. Venturi 1893; Longhi 1928; De Rinaldis 1939). It was further confirmed by Paola della Pergola (1955), who in the first catalogue of the paintings of Galleria Borghese pointed to technical and stylistic similarities between the work in question and another composition signed by the artist, namely the Madonna and Child with Saint Joseph, held at Palazzo Pitti in Florence (see Supino 1930). Indeed, the summary execution of the panel, together with the lack of originality of the composition, is characteristic of Boateri’s work, a fact which has led critics to consider him a mere imitator of Francia (Supino 1930).