Stop 26. Virgin and Saints Adoring the Christ Child


Pietro Perugino (Italian, ca. 1450–1523)
Ca. 1500
Tempera on panel
34 1/2 x 28 3/8 inches (876 x 721 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1911


John Marciari, Charles W. Engelhard Curator of Drawings and Prints
Known for his graceful figures, Perugino was the leading painter from Umbria, a region in central Italy, during the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Using harmonious jewel-like tones, the artist depicted the Virgin flanked by St. John the Evangelist and an unidentified female saint, perhaps Mary Magdalene. The inscription on the frame, referring to the Christ Child, is from Psalm 45: Fairer in beauty are you than the children of men; grace is poured out upon thy lips; thus God has blessed you forever. The elegant figures and delicate landscape are hallmarks of Perugino’s graceful style, which had a lasting impact on his most famous pupil, Raphael.

When Morgan was furnishing his study he pursued Italian paintings in earnest, working with many art dealers. This panel was procured for Morgan in 1911 by the British agent and critic Robert Langton Douglas from the Sitwell family, whose members are noted for their eccentric collections, many of which were housed at Renishaw Hall in Derbyshire, England.