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Ambito veneto-emiliano

Once attributed to Raphael, this painting was most likely executed at the end of the 16th century by an unknown Italian artist influenced by the pictorial culture of Veneto and Emilia while also familiar with contemporary Flemish production. It depicts the Holy Family adored by two shepherds. The figures are immersed in a rugged landscape with ruins, with a high mountain relief dominating the background.

Object details

c. 1580
oil on panel
cm 28 x 21

Salvator Rosa, 33 x 175 x 7 cm


Rome, Borghese Collection, 1693 (Inv. 1693, room II, no. 80 (given as room II, no. 39 in  Della Pergola 1959; corrected in Della Pergola 1964)); Inventario Fidecommissario Borghese 1833, p. 35. Purchased by Italian state, 1902.

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1903-05 Luigi Bartolucci;
  • 1908 Luigi Bartolucci;
  • 1942 Carlo Matteucci;
  • 1995 Laboratorio Soprintendenza;
  • 1998-99 Carlo Festa.


This panel of unknown provenance was first documented as forming part of the Borghese Collection in 1693. In the view of Paola della Pergola (1964), it corresponds to the entry that reads a ‘small work of roughly a span with the Adoration of the Shepherds by Raphael of Urbino, no. 215, with a gilded frame’. The attribution to Raphael was dismissed by the compiler of the 1833 Inventario Fidecommissario, who listed it as by an ‘unknown artist’. It was likewise rejected by Adolfo Venturi (1893), who wrote of the ‘Venetian school’. On the occasion of the publication of the catalogue of paintings of the Galleria Borghese in 1959, Della Pergola described the work as an ‘imitation of a Flemish master’, executed in her opinion by an anonymous Italian of the mid-16th century who drew on the culture of northern European painting. Unfortunately, the poor conservational state of the work does not help us to identify the artist. At the same time, the landscape – which opens onto a vast valley dominated by a harsh mountain relief – suggests the hand of a painter active in Venice and Emilia around the early 1580s who was strongly influenced by Flemish production.

Antonio Iommelli

  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 465;
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 174; Cantalamessa 1912, n. 361;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, II, Roma 1959, p. 171, n. 250;
  • P. della Pergola, L’Inventario Borghese del 1693 (I), in “Arte Antica e Moderna”, XXVI, 1964, p. 229;
  • 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. 119.