Lot 104
  • 104

Circle of Raphael, circa 1520

10,000 - 15,000 USD
12,500 USD
bidding is closed


  • Recto: Virgin and Child with St. Elizabeth and St. John the Baptist;
    Verso: A sketch for the same composition
  • Black chalk (recto and verso)
  • 176 by 225 mm; 7 by 8¾ in

Catalogue Note

A fascinating early drawing from the circle of Raphael, this subtle black chalk sheet represents the Madonna and Child, with St. Elizabeth and the young St. John.  The two children are placed near the front of the composition, the young Baptist with his hands joined in prayer, looking at the seated Christ Child.  St. Elizabeth kneels on the ground, supporting the young Baptist, while just behind is the Madonna, also seated, holding an open book with both hands.  On the verso, a very quickly drawn variation of the same composition shows St. John standing and engaging with the Christ Child, and omits St. Elizabeth.  The composition on the recto is closely reminiscent of Raphael’s Canigiani Holy Family (fig. 1), in Munich.1  The painting has been dated between 1506-1508, and is mentioned by Vasari as being in the house of the heirs of Domenico Canigiani, a cloth merchant; it may have been commissioned in connection with Canigiani's marriage, in 1507, to Lucrezia di Girolamo Frescobaldi, but could also have been executed earlier.2  The addition of the figures of St. Elizabeth and the young St. John to the classic representation of the Holy Family of earlier Tuscan tradition, seems to have been a novelty introduced by Raphael.

Although the figure of Joseph is not now visible in the drawing, he may originally have been present in the composition, in the now damaged upper left corner, as he appears there in an interesting early seventeenth-century copy, by the so-called ‘Calligraphic forger’, in the Victoria and Albert Museum.  This copy, which corresponds in every detail to the present sheet, was described by Peter Ward-Jackson as being after a lost drawing by Raphael, relating to the artist's Canigiani Holy Family.3

1. Munich, Alte Pinakothek, inv. no. 476

2. J. Meyer zur Capellen, Raphael, A critical Catalogue of His Paintings, vol. I, p. 228

3. P. Ward-Jackson, Victoria and Albert Museum catalogues. Italian Drawings, 14th-16th century, vol. I, London 1979, pp. 132-133, no. 265, reproduced fig. 265 (recto)