Madonna col Bambino, San Giuseppe e San Giovanni Battista (early 1520s)

Pontormo (1494-1557)

Madonna col Bambino, San Giuseppe e San Giovanni Battista (Madonna and Child with St Joseph and St John the Baptist)
Early 1520s
Oil on canvas transferred from panel, 120 x 98.5 cm
Hermitage MuseumSaint Petersburg

Among the celebrated Florentine mannerists, there was one who drew repeatedly upon Raphael’s legacy, interpreting it in his own way. We can assume that Jacopo Portormo had seen the Madonna del Granduca (now in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence) that Raphael created in the city on the Arno around the year 1506. The paintings in Florence and Saint Petersburg display a similar placement of the figures and of the arms of Mary and the Christ-Child. In the Hermitage work, Santi’s classical clarity is translated into the language of Mannerism – heightened emotion, eccentricity and a distinctive colour scheme. Raphael’s flowing contours have given way in Pontormo’s work to nervous, fanciful lines, something especially evident in the outlines of the Christ-Child’s body, curved like a letter S, and the shape of His Mother’s headdress. Pontormo exchanges the traditional blue of Mary’s cloak for a contrasting green. His painting is undated, but was most probably made in the early 1520s, based on its stylistic similarity to the murals he created then at the Medici Villa in Poggio a Caiano. (SHM)