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Girolamo Romanino (Brescia 1484/7-1560)
Girolamo Romanino (Brescia 1484/7-1560)

The Madonna and Child

Details
Girolamo Romanino (Brescia 1484/7-1560)
The Madonna and Child
oil on canvas, unlined
26 x 26 in. (66 x 66 cm.)
Provenance
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 2 July 1986, lot 110 (£29,700).

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Freddie De Rougemont
Freddie De Rougemont

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Lot Essay

An idiosyncratic talent, little is known of Romanino’s early years, but he became an artist of significant stature in northern Italy during the High Renaissance. His oeuvre testifies to the twin influences of Lombardy and Venice, as he rose to become the leading painter in Brescia, alongside Alessandro Bonvicino, known as Moretto da Brescia, in the early 16th century, receiving key commissions in Cremona, Trent and Asola. Romanino distinguished himself from his contemporaries by his greater tendency towards naturalism, evident in the present work, which suggests he took an interest in artists from north of the Alps too.

Though a chronology of Romanino’s work has not been established with absolute certainty, this Madonna and Child would seem to date to the 1540s: the tonality is reminiscent of the Madonna and Child with Saint Paul in Brescia, Banca San Paolo, painted circa 1547-8, while the features of the Madonna can be instructively compared to the picture in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Siena, dating to circa 1539-40. The key compositional elements of the work – the inclined head of the Madonna seen in three-quarter view, the Child on her lap engaging the viewer, the curtain behind and the landscape beyond – also feature in the picture by Moretto in the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, which dates to the 1540s. These elements appear to draw on works by Titian, such as the Madonna and Child in the Accademia Carrara, Bergamo, circa 1507 and that in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, circa 1508, indicating his undoubted formative influence on Romanino. This present composition must have been well-known to Romanino’s followers: as much is clear by the copy that was exhibited during the XXII Mostra Mercato Antiquari Milanesi in November 1984.

We are grateful to Dr Marco Tanzi for confirming the attribution, on the basis of photographs.

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