Madonna with Child – Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte – Naples

The table repeats a recurring subject in Perugino’s production, replicated on several occasions, also with the help of his workshop, and it is generally considered a work of private devotion because of its small size; it is recorded in the deposits of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome in 1799, among the works of art seized by the French armies and repurchased by the delegate of the King of Naples, Domenico Venuti; it was mentioned in Naples only in 1902, when it is reviewed in the Inventory of the Galleria Francavilla.

In the ancient inventories, the work is assigned alternately to Vannucci or to the young Raphael, attribution hypothesized because of the large size of the Madonna depicted in the foreground; from the early decades of the nineteenth century, the table was definitively included in the corpus of the Master of Città della Pieve, who, however, probably also used the help of his workshop in the realization.

The composition features a graceful Virgin Mary, sitting on a rock, in the act of holding Baby Jesus playing with her fingers. In the background, immersed in an airy hilly landscape of Florentine influences, there is a group of bystanders: these are the Three Kings, identifiable thanks to the pyxes, one on the right and the other two on the left, accompanied by some characters dressed according to the taste of the time.

The work is preserved at the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte in Naples.
Perugino, Madonna with Child, 1496-1498, tempera on panel, 94 x 64 cm, Naples, Museum and Real Bosco di Capodimonte Image credit: Ministero della Cultura - Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte