Two Perino del Vaga works for the Metropolitan Museum

1. Perino del Vaga (1501-1547)
The Holy Family with the Infant Saint John
the Baptist

Oil on wood - 87 x 64,8 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Sotheby’s

10/3/11 – Acquisitions – New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art – In just two days, the 26 and 27 January 2011, the Metropolitan Museum acquired a drawing by Perino del Vaga, one of Raphael’s most important pupils, at Sotheby’s auction in New York, then also a painting by the same artist.

The Louvre was hoping to purchase the second one, a The Holy Family with the Infant Saint John the Baptist (ill. 1), as Vincent Pomarède explains in an interview published in the latest issue of L’Estampille –L’Objet d’Art. Unfortunately, the bidding exceeded the amount planned by the French museum and the Met finally won out at $2.098.500 (including charges). The New York establishment, just like the Louvre, did not yet own a painting by this artist since they appear very rarely on the market [1].
First trained by Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio, Perino del Vaga joined Raphael’s workshop in 1516 and helped him in his work for the Vatican Stanzas. After leaving Rome in 1528 and spending about ten years in Genoa where he decorated notably the Palazzo Doria, he returned permanently to the Eternal City. It is difficult to put an exact date on the panel acquired by the Metropolitan Museum. According to the entry in the Sotheby’s catalogue, however, it would seem that based on the still rather classical style, strongly influenced by Raphael, it might have been produced at the end of his first Roman period or early on during his stay in Genoa, that is, around 1527-1530. We would like to point out that the Musée Condé in Chantilly owns a later Virgin with Child by Perino del Vaga (about 1535-1540), in a more Mannerist vein.

2. Perino del Vaga (1501-1547)
Jupiter and Juno
Pen and dark brown ink with brown and
gray wash, heightened with white - 43.5 x 40.4 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Sotheby’s

Although easel works by the artist are particularly rare, the same is not true of his drawings. This one (ill. 2), with a prestigious provenance (Thomas Lawrence, Samuel Woodburn, John Barnard…) was purchased for $782.500 (including charges) at Sotheby’s [2]. Jupiter and Juno was presented in 2002 in the exhibition Tapissery in the Renaissance : Art and Magnificence, organized by Thomas P. Campbell before he was appointed director of the Metropolitan Museum.
A large and very well finished drawing, this is in fact a modello – the only documented one – for a panel of the tapestry series Jupiter’s Loves woven for Andrea Doria and which disappeared in the late 17th century. It thus provides an aspect of these tapestries of which only three drawings remain, including one representing Jupiter Appearing before Semele, already belonging to the Metropolitan Museum.

Didier Rykner, jeudi 10 mars 2011


[1] In the entry, Sotheyby’s points out that the last important one to appear on the market was sold by Hazlitt to the National Gallery of Australia in 1965.

[2] We learned of this purchase in an article by Paul Jeromack highlighting these two acquisitions on the Artnet website.

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