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Madonna and child with infant John the Baptist

circa 1542


Domenico Beccafumi


1484 - 1551


Reversing the pose of Ferrucci's relief, this marvel of mannerist painting also shows the new directions of Italian art in the sixteenth century. With its mysterious luminosity and boldly defined figures, it suggests statuary viewed by candle-light. Beccafumi has paid homage to Michelangelo in the volumetric forms of the Madonna and her draperies and the 'contrapposto' of her pose. For the suppleness of flesh and softness of atmosphere, however, Beccafumi has turned to Leonardo's testing 'sfumato' technique. This imbues his altarpiece with a theatricality that is utterly in accord with the mannerist aesthetic in which Beccafumi was steeped throughout his long career. As a master trained in Siena, a city dedicated to the Virgin, Beccafumi produced innumerable versions of this subject. In this case, the result is a painting of exceptional poetic power.

AGNSW Handbook, 1999.


Other Title

The Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist


circa 1542

Media category


Materials used

oil on panel


92.0 x 69.0 cm panel; 134.5 x 100.0 x 18.0 cm frame


Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation Purchase 1992

Accession number


Artist information

Domenico Beccafumi

Works in the collection


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history


A.S. Drey, Munich/Germany, [dealer]

Private Collection, Monaco, Il dipinto, giunto prima del 1936 da Monaco a Londra, è attualmente nella Galleria Matthiesen. [the painting, which arrived in London from Monaco before 1936, is now in the Gallery Matthiesen.] see 'Beccafumi' by Piero Torriti, Electa 1998, pg. 187

Private Collection, London/England, Sold Sotheby's London, 7 December 1988, lot 83 for £297,000

The Matthiesen Gallery, London/England, Purchased by the AGNSW from Matthiesen Gallery 1992

Referenced in 12 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Great gifts, great patrons: an exhibition celebrating private patronage of the Gallery, Sydney, 1994. no pagination or catalogue numbers

Edmund Capon, Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation Annual Report 1997, Sydney, 1997, 19 (colour illus.).

Renée Free, AGNSW Collections, 'The Western Heritage, Renaissance to Twentieth Century', pg. 108-172, Sydney, 1994, 111 (colour illus.).

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Paintings and Sculpture', pg. 17-77, Sydney, 1999, 21 (colour illus.).

Pinacoteca Nazionale di Siena, Domenico Beccafumi e il suo Tempo, Siena, 1990, 212, 213 (colour illus.). 37

Lynn Roberts and Paul Mitchell, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, two paintings from flora, 'Framing Arcimboldo', pg.26-37, Madrid, 2014, 28, 29 (colour illus.). fig.4

V.G. Sgarbi and A.Hawser, F.M.R. International, 'Sulphuric Mannerism', pg. 21-44, 1990, 21-44, 41 (illus.). 46

Sotheby's London (Editor), Sotheby's London: Old master paintings, London, 07 Dec 1988, 26, 27 (colour illus.). 83

Piero Torriti, Beccafumi, Milan, 1998, 187-188, 187 (colour illus.). P84

Michael Wardell, Look, 'Foundation building', pg.14-17, Sydney, Sep 2004, 15.

Editor Unknown (Editor), International Museums Diary, London, 1994, (illus.).

Unknown and Michael Brand, Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation: Celebrating 30 years of art acquisitions, Sydney, 2015, p 15, col illus p 15.