Madonna and Child with St. Jerome

MAKER:
Artist

Garofalo ( Italian, 1481 - 1559 )

DATE:
About 1530
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General Description

This minute and exquisitely painted panel by Benvenuto Tisi, called Garofalo and known as one of the leading artists working in Ferrara in the first half of the 16th century, was likely intended for private devotion. Here, a stately Virgin and Child is joined by the rugged figure of Saint Jerome. The hermit saint is surrounded by his attributes: the lion that he tamed after removing a thorn from its paw, and a copy of the Bible, which Jerome translated into Latin. Although still a young child, Christ points at a passage in the text, possibly foreshadowing his Passion, an allusion reinforced by Jerome’s hand resting on a skull. The bold colours and Jerome’s contorted but elegant pose are hallmarks of Mannerism, while behind the figures, a carefully painted landscape with a church and a farmyard relates to the everyday life of the contemporary world.

Excerpt from

Julien Domercq, Label text (1939.2), 2020

Fun Facts

  • According to Giorgio Vasari, Garofalo was blind for several years before his death in 1559. Other research suggests that his vision had been impaired most of his life after losing sight in one eye as a young man.

  • Garofalo, also known as Benevenuto di Piero Tisi, signed his works with variations of his name including Benvegnu, Benvenuto, and Benvenutus. He also is known to have substituted a small twig with a carnation blossom as a monogram.

  • Seven of the leading experts in Renaissance art were consulted about the attribution of this work when it was added to the collection in 1939. Each was sent a black and white photograph of the painting and asked to provide their opinion as to its creator and date. The authenticity of Garofalo's Madonna and Child and St. Jerome was supported by Dr. Frederick Francis Mason Perkins, Prof. Roberto Longhi, Prof. Adolfo Venturi, Prof. William Suida, Prof. Giuseppe Fiocco, Dr. Raimond van Marle, and Bernard Berenson.

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