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Unknown Mannerist painter, Madonna with Child and Saint Jerome
second half of the 16th century
Material and technique
oil on canvas
86 x 71 cm
Alessandro Zuccari
In this delicate painting the Virgin Mary turns towards St. Jerome while Baby Jesus briefly abandons the breast to bless the saint. The elderly Doctor of the Church, his arms crossed on his chest in sign of worship, is recognizable from the red Cardinal’s hat hanging from the branch of a tree. The lion appearing on the bottom right-hand side of the painting is also a frequent symbol of St. Jerome; according to legend, the saintly hermit removed a thorn from the lion’s paw and the animal remained faithful to him ever after. A dark curtain forms the backdrop to the Virgin Mary, while behind St. Jerome stretches a hilly landscape with a fortified village.
The painting was part of the Gualino Collection and has been attributed to a Spanish painter close to Luis de Morales. That the unknown artist, like his fellow countryman, was aware of the new developments in Italian Mannerism is evident from this Virgin Mary, modelled on the famous paintings of Parmigianino, and he successfully fused them with elements of Flemish art.  The colours in the painting, executed sometime around the middle of the sixteenth century, are rather faded, particularly the clothing, while the complexions and the glimpse of nature are suffused with a soft light.
Madonna with Child and Saint Jerome
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