Artibus et Historiae no. 73 (XXXVII)

2016, ISSN 0391-9064

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JÓZEF GRABSKI - The Madonna della Rovere: Raphael in the Workshop of Pietro Perugino (pp. 91-123)

Having recently reappeared, the tondo representing the Madonna and Child with Two Adoring Angels provides us with new material for a reconsideration of the collaboration between artists in the workshop of Perugino. It also furnishes new data for a reassessment of the work of the young Raphael. The tondo’s noble provenance – it was part of the della Rovere family collection for over five hundred years – is an additional factor confirming the work’s importance. Already at first glance the painting can be associated with several works executed in the bottega of Pietro Vannucci, Perugino, at the turn of the Cinquecento, as well as works by the young Raphael.

An analysis of the della Rovere tondo in its historical and social context, its iconography, the Umbrian and Florentine pictorial tradition, as well as a study of its stylistic characteristics, suggests that this important work of art was executed in the studio of Pietro Perugino c. 1498–1502 by the young Raphael, with some participation by Perugino himself, especially in the figure of the Christ Child. The two angels on both sides of the Madonna seem to have been done in full by Raphael. The very Raphaelesque Mother lost a little in the quality once the glazes were gone, and the present state of conservation does not allow for a conclusion as to whether this figure was painted by Raphael himself or by another artist in the Perugino studio. The della Rovere tondo seems to be the result of collaboration between Perugino and the young Raphael, much like Leonardo da Vinci’s contribution to the Baptism of Christ by Andrea Verrocchio in the Uffizi. With time the pupils surpassed their masters.

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