This vividly colored Holy Family is known in two other versions, both of which are inferior in quality to the present work (Christie’s, New York, 28 January 2009, lot 208; and Sotheby’s, London, 4 December 2008, lot 168). Linda Wolk-Simon, to whom we are grateful for her assistance in cataloguing this lot, has noted that the composition seems to have been inspired by a drawing by the Roman master Pietro Buonaccorsi, called Perino del Vaga (1501-1547), which is preserved in the Uffizi, Florence. The composition also draws parallels to other works by the artist, such as his ravishing Holy Family in Melbourne at the National Gallery of Victoria (inv. 1666-5), and, indeed, the versions sold at Christie’s and Sotheby’s were offered as “Circle of” and “Follower of” Perino del Vaga, respectively.
The present panel, whose fresh and confident handling indicates it was painted by a highly competent hand, includes several pentimenti that are visible both in infrared images and with the naked eye. This suggests that the artist was revising the design as he worked, and that the present Holy Family may in fact be the prototype for other versions of the composition. While it bears similarities to paintings by several of Perino’s followers who were working in Rome in the 1550s and 1560s -- such as Daniele da Volterra and Girolamo Siciolante da Sermoneta -- there is yet to be a consensus on the attribution for this accomplished and striking picture.