Description This painting combines two of the most popular subjects in Italian Renaissance art: the “sacred conversation” (a group of holy figures are placed in a unified space) and the Nativity. The Virgin Mary, standing before deep green cloth of honor, and Saint Joseph (left) adore the newborn Christ, who in accordance with biblical tradition lies in a simple straw manger. Christ’s infant cousin John the Baptist joins in the adoration while one of Christ’s later followers, John the Evangelist, is absorbed in a book at the right. The man beneath Saint John—bust-length, in prayer, and in typical 16th-century dress—is the individual who commissioned the work. Renaissance art patrons often asked to be depicted in their religious commissions as an expression of their piety. This painting was likely intended as a private devotional object in the man’s home. Executed sometime in the 1510s, the painting is by Luca Antonio Buscatti (or Busati), a now little-known artist who was active in and around Venice and the Romagna (in northern Italy) in the first two decades of the 16th century. Formerly known as the “Master of the Incredulity of St. Thomas” after the subject of one of his most characteristic paintings (Treviso, San Niccolo), Buscatti was trained in the circle of the great Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini. Like much Venetian painting from the period, Buscatti’s works are characterized by their supple contours, soft brushwork, and serene sense of light—all of which can be seen in the Walters’ painting.
|12/31/1969||Examination||examined for condition|
|9/09/1938||Treatment||inpainted; other; x-ray|
Provenance Don Marcello Massarenti Collection, Rome [date and mode of acquisition unknown] [1881 catalogue: no. 72, as Vittore Carpaccio; 1897 catalogue: no. 382, as Giovanni Bellini]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1902, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters with the Massarenti Collection, 1902
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