This hitherto unpublished picture is exceptionally well preserved and an important addition to the oeuvre of Bacchiacca. The picture is close in style and character to Bacchiacca's picture of the same subject in Dresden which dates from the late 1540s. Both pictures show the profound influence of the artist's Florentine Mannerist contemporaries, in particular Bronzino and Andrea del Sarto - indeed, as Vasari noted, the latter assisted Bacchiacca in matters of art. Although this picture's monumental figures and bright colouring are indeed inspired by Bronzino's work, they are also reminiscent of the styles of Salviati and Vasari. The eccentricity of the artist, often pointed out in relation to his small panels, is apparent in the Netherlandish landscape in the background. For these he looked at prints by Dürer and Lucas van Leyden, references to whose figures and compositions are made in several of Bacchiacca's works. For example the building in the left background in the Dresden picture derives from Dürer's engraving of The Madonna with a Pear. Also the group of shepherds, which occurs in both pictures, shows the artist's familiarity with Northern prints.
The picture was probably painted for the Florentine banker and collector Pierfrancesco Borgherini. His father had already commissioned Bacchiacca to decorate Pierfrancesco's bedroom with paintings on the occasion of the latter's wedding to Margherita Acciaiuoli in 1515. These panels, made for Borgherini's Palazzo (now the Palazzo Rosselli del Turco), are today in the Galleria Borghese, Rome, and the National Gallery, London. Other panels for the same room were painted by Bacchiacca's friend, Andrea del Sarto (Palazzo Pitti, Florence), Pontormo (National Gallery, London), and Francesco Granacci (Uffizi, Florence). One of the foremost patrons in sixteenth-century Florence, Pierfrancesco Borgherini formed a vast collection of important pictures by Florentine painters. He befriended Michelangelo, who was also a client at the family bank's branch in Rome from 1515, and from whom Borgherini commissioned a painting, which remained unexecuted. On Michelangelo's advice, Borgherini commissioned Sebastiano del Piombo to execute the frescoes (1516-1524) in his family chapel at San Pietro in Montorio, Rome. The Borgherini family employed Andrea del Sarto on several occasions: Pierfrancesco Borgherini commissioned a Virgin and Child (Palazzo Pitti, Florence) and his brother Giovanni the Holy Family with Saint John the Baptist (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) on the occasion of his marriage to Selvaggia Capponi in 1526. It is likely that he also employed Bacchiacca on more than one occasion, and that he commissioned the present picture for his Palazzo. This was bought, including its entire contents, by the Rosselli Del Turco family in the early eighteenth century. An inventory made after the death of Giovanni Rosselli Del Turco (8 September 1754) records the present picture as in the Palazzo (see above and N. Pons, 'La camera Borgherini e l'arredo del palazzo Rosselli Del Turco', in G. Trotta, ed., Gli antichi chiassi tra Ponte Vecchio e Santa Trinitgi, Florence, 1992, pp. 179-100).
We are grateful to Florian Härb for confirming the attribution upon inspection of the picture, and to Everett Fahy and Philippe Costamagna for confirming the attribution on the basis of a transparency. Independently they date the picture to between 1540 and 1550. We are grateful to Dr. Pierluigi Carofano for his assistance in cataloguing this picture.