Madonna col Bambino e i Santi Caterina, Elisabetta e Giovanni Battista (1513)

Andrea del Sarto (1486-1530)

Madonna col Bambino e i Santi Caterina, Elisabetta e Giovanni Battista (The Virgin and Child with St Catherine, St Elizabeth and St John the Baptist)
Oil on canvas, 102 x 80 cm
Hermitage MuseumSaint Petersburg

This painting entered the Hermitage in 1814; it was previously in the collection of Joséphine de Beauharnais at the Château de Malmaison.

In the early 16th century Andrea del Sarto was amongst the leading artists of Florence and one of the most outstanding figures of the Italian High Renaissance. He left us frescoes, many altar compositions and portraits. This work is of the type known as a Sacra Conversazione (sacred conversation), in which the Virgin Mary was shown surrounded by saints. Del Sarto transformed the traditional composition into a lively and informal scene: Elizabeth and Mary are engaged in a conversation, while the young St Catherine listens attentively. The children – Christ and John the Baptist – mischievously seek to draw attention to themselves. In these different figures the artist reveals a fine sense of how people of varying ages behave, how their gestures and facial expressions differ from each other. Del Sarto was famous for his transparent sfumato (the transitions of colour or, especially, tone from light to dark by stages so gradual as to be imperceptible) – the heritage of Leonardo da Vinci. There is a notable likeness between Mary and Elizabeth, and it is possible that the model for both was the artist’s wife, Lucrezia del Fede. (SHM)


Andrea del Sarto (1486-1530)
Madonna col Bambino, sant’Elisabetta e il Battista
National GalleryLondon



See also:

Beauharnais, Joséphine de (1763-1814) | Château de Malmaison | Fede, Lucrezia del (c.1490-?)