Lubin Baugin was born at Pithiviers in the old French province of the Orléanais, son of a merchant and his wife. Nothing is known of his early training, but by 1629 he was in Paris where, on 23 May, he was made a member of the artists’ guild attached to the abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. He travelled in Italy during the second half of the 1630s studying the works of Raphael, Correggio, Parmigianino, Barocci and Guido Reni, finally settling in Rome, where he married the first of his three wives. By 1641 he had returned to Paris, where he and his family moved into a house on the Pont Nôtre-Dame. Baugin was inducted into the Académie de Saint-Luc in 1645 and the newly formed Académie Royale in 1651. By 1657, he was Painter in Ordinary to the young king, Louis XIV.
Although Baugin is the author of several remarkable still lifes (today in the Louvre), he was principally a painter of religious subjects, of which the stunning Dead Christ in Orléans is perhaps the most famous. Baugin developed a specialization in small-scale devotional images of the Holy Family or, as in the present work, the Virgin and Child. The earliest of these are particularly indebted to the example of Guido Reni, but later in his career -- and particularly by the 1650s, when the present work can be dated -- his sources of inspiration were wider. In terms of style and technique, the present painting finds its closest comparison to the Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rennes. Here, Baugin’s debt to Raphael is appreciable, and the painting’s color scheme as well as the tender rendering of the relationship of mother and child hark back to such masterpieces as Raphael’s Madonna of the Veil (c. 1510; Musée Condé, Chantilly), which Baugin would have seen in the Borghese collections in Rome. The sinuous arabesque of Baugin’s composition and the elegant elongation of the Virgin’s fingers reflect the influence of Parmigianino and the painters of the School of Fontainebleau. The painting’s fine state of preservation and the exquisite modeling of the flesh tones and drapery are due, in part, to the picture’s carefully prepared copper support.