Madonna and Child with Saints Jerome and Bernard
Tempera and gilding on panel
This breathtaking 15th-century Italian Renaissance painting honoring the Madonna and Christ Child with Saints Jerome and Bernard is attributed to the preeminent Sienese artist Benvenuto di Giovanni (di Meo del Guasta). Known for his large-scale commissions and frescoes, it is his body of Madonna and Child paintings that sheds light upon the artist’s mastery of composition, color and detail.
Particular to Giovanni’s work was the balance between the naturalism of his figures and the splendor of their religious settings, lavishing his Classical forms with incredible details in regards to the color palette and beautiful costumes as displayed in the present work.
Furthering the attribution to Giovanni is the execution of the figures, not only in the positioning but also in gentle engagement between the Madonna and Child at the heart of the composition. These traits are apparent in works held by Harvard Art Museums and the Metropolitan Museum of Art entitled The Virgin and Child with Angels (1475) and Madonna and Child (1470), respectively. While these elements might be seen as commonalities across many such devotional images of the period, a closer look to the figures themselves further strengthens these connections to di Giovanni’s hand. The facial features of the two saintly figures parallel those depicted in other di Giovanni works, including the Triptych with Madonna and Saints (1475) from the Church of San Fortunato in Montepertuso.
The artist was born to a bricklayer in Siena and appears to have remained there his entire life. First documented in 1451 working as an assistant to the Sienese painter Lorenzo di Pietro, better known as Il Vecchietta (1410-1480) in a collaboration at the Siena Baptistery. However, Giovanni soon achieved acclaim of his own and created several notable commissions during his career, particularly in the Siena Cathedral and occasional projects in nearby cities. Today, his works hold places of prominence in the collections of the National Gallery and The Wallace Collection in London, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., Harvard University Art Museums in Massachusetts, and the Detroit Institute of Arts in Michigan.
Panel: 26 1/2″ high x 17 3/4″ wide
Frame: 37 3/8″ high x 27 3/4″ wide