An image of Madonna and Child with infant John the Baptist

Domenico Beccafumi

(Italy 1484 – January or 18 May 1551)

Madonna and Child with infant John the Baptist

Other titles:
The Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist
15th–19th c European art
Further information

Reversing the pose of Ferrucci's relief, this marvel of mannerist painting also shows the new directions of Italian art in the sixteenth century. With its mysterious luminosity and boldly defined figures, it suggests statuary viewed by candle-light. Beccafumi has paid homage to Michelangelo in the volumetric forms of the Madonna and her draperies and the 'contrapposto' of her pose. For the suppleness of flesh and softness of atmosphere, however, Beccafumi has turned to Leonardo's testing 'sfumato' technique. This imbues his altarpiece with a theatricality that is utterly in accord with the mannerist aesthetic in which Beccafumi was steeped throughout his long career. As a master trained in Siena, a city dedicated to the Virgin, Beccafumi produced innumerable versions of this subject. In this case, the result is a painting of exceptional poetic power.

AGNSW Handbook, 1999.

circa 1542
oil on panel
92.0 x 69.0 cm panel; 134.5 x 100.0 x 18.0 cm frame
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation Purchase 1992
Accession number
A.S. Drey, Munich/Germany, [dealer]
Private Collection, Monaco, Il dipinto, giunto prima del 1936 da Monaco a Londra, è attualmente nella Galleria Matthiesen. [the painting, which arrived in London from Monaco before 1936, is now in the Gallery Matthiesen.] see 'Beccafumi' by Piero Torriti, Electa 1998, pg. 187
Private Collection, London/England, Sold Sotheby's London, 7 December 1988, lot 83 for £297,000
The Matthiesen Gallery, London/England, Purchased by the AGNSW from Matthiesen Gallery 1992