Virgin and Child with SS. Dominic and Barbara

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Francesco Francia
approximately 1450-1517
Bologna, Italy, 15th to 16th century
Oil on panel.
panel: 32 1/2 x 26 5/8 inches (815 x 675 mm); framed: 46 1/4 x 40 1/8 inches (1175 x 1020 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1907.

Although trained as a goldsmith, Francia primarily worked as a painter in and around his hometown of Bologna. Depictions of the Virgin and child with saints are predominant among his major surviving works. St. Barbara is shown with a martyr's palm and a model of the tower in which her pagan father imprisoned her, while St. Dominic, the founder of the Dominican order, wears his black and white habit and holds a lily and a book. When Francia painted the present panel, he was influenced by the luminous style of his contemporary Perugino, another artist represented in Morgan's study.

The wood label on bottom center of frame reads, "Francesco Raibolini, called Francia".
Padre Ferdinando Francesco Sampieri (d. 1787), Bologna; from whom inherited in 1787, Luigi Sampiere (1758-1797); from whom inherited, Francesco Sampieri; from whom purchased by Prince Eugène de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg, Munich; Leuchtenberg Gallery, St. Petersburg (according to Sulley invoice); Sulley & Co., London; from whom purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan, 15 March 1907.

The Virgin and Child with S. Dominic at her right and Saint Barbara at her left. St. Barbara is holding an arrow and a tower. S. Dominic holds a lily and a book. He wears the religious garb of the Domenican order.
The lily may signify St. Dominic's purity while the tower represents St. Barbara's martyrdom, her incarceration by her father.