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The Holy Family with St. John the Baptist and St. Mary Magdalen
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The Holy Family with St. John the Baptist and St. Mary Magdalen


Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Inscription Credit
Description In this intimate holy gathering, the Madonna supports the Christ Child's little foot and meets our gaze with a melancholic expression, as if aware that her son will one day sacrifice himself for humankind. The Christ Child fixatedly looks into the viewer's space with his right hand raised in a gesture of blessing. He is adored by his young cousin, John the Baptist, from the lower left. Also at the left is the Madonna's husband and Christ's earthly father, Saint Joseph. To the right is one of Christ's later followers, Saint Mary Magdalen, holding a gold and silver vessel containing the ointment she is said to have used to anoint Christ’s body after the Crucifixion. The figures are set against a green curtain which functions as a cloth of honor—denoting Christ and Mary's roles as King and Queen of Heaven—as well as a barrier between the figures and the distant landscape. The parapet in the foreground acts as an additional barrier between the viewer and the holy figures. A “cartellino” (small piece of paper) is illusionistically painted on the parapet and bears the signature of Marco Palmezzano, the leading painter in the north Italian region of Emilia-Romagna during the late 1400s and early 1500s. The Walters’ panel is a typical work of Palmezzano’s, with its rigidly posed figures bathed in a strong light that provides a heightened sense of three-dimensionality. For a painting at the Walters’ by one of Palmezzano’s assistants, see 37.505.
Conservation
Date Description Narrative
9/09/1938Treatmentinpainted; loss compensation; surface cleaned
11/24/1976Treatmentinfrared spectroscopy; stabilized; x-ray
4/30/1990Examinationexamined for loan
9/01/1991Treatmentcoated; filled; inpainted; loss compensation; surface cleaned; varnish removed or reduced
3/21/2005Examinationexamined for loan
Exhibitions
  • To Arrest the Ravages of Time: Caring for Art at the Walters. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1996.
  • Marco Palmezzano: Il Rinascimento nelle Romagne. Complesso di San Giacomo Apostolo, Forli. 2005-2006.
Provenance Marquess Filippo Marignoli, Rome and Spoleto, until 1898 [mode of acquisition unknown]; Marquess Francesco Marignoli, 1898 [mode of acquisition unknown]; Don Marcello Massarenti Collection, Rome, 1899 [mode of acquisition unknown] [1900 catalogue supplement: no. 5]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1902, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Signature] On the cartellino in the foreground: .MARCHVS.PALMIZA. | .FOROLIVIENSIS.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters with the Massarenti Collection, 1902

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Period
1494-1495 (Renaissance)
Medium
oil on wood panel
(Painting & Drawing)
Accession Number
37.437
Measurements
Painted surface H: 36 x W: 28 7/16 x D excluding cradle: 3/8 in. (91.5 x 72.3 x 1 cm)
Geographies
Location Within Museum
Not On View

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