This previously unpublished painting by Puligo is the best and most elaborate of four autograph variants of the composition. The painting sold in these rooms, 22 April 1953, lot 67, would appear to be the earliest of these versions, placing the Madonna and Child in a plain landscape, with visible pentimenti
in the Madonna's left foot and certain deficiencies in drawing (the Child's right hand has only three fingers, for example);1
and the work in the Palazzo Borghese, Rome, of slightly larger dimensions, includes a similar, though not so developed or populated landscape – Saint John the Baptist alone approaches from the right-hand side.2
There is also a variant in the Musée Fabre, Montpellier, in which the Madonna's pose is repeated, though her breast is not exposed, and the positioning of the Child has changed – He turns in towards His mother, rather than out to face the viewer.3
The figure of the Baptist in this last painting reappears in the present work, though on the left-hand side, while on the right a rather dream-like landscape includes the depiction of 'Noli me tangere', with Mary Magdalene appealing to Christ, who holds the attribute of a gardener, with Saint Apollonia behind, and monks apparently in the background.
1. 59 x 43 cm.; see G.A. Gardner, The paintings of Domenico Puligo, doctoral diss., Ohio State University 1986, pp. 159–60, cat. no. 8, reproduced p. 456, fig. 13.
2. 86 x 64 cm.; inv. no. 338; see P. della Pergola, Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, Rome 1959, vol. II, p. 48, cat. no. 67, reproduced fig. 67.
3. 54 x 42 cm.; inv. no. 123; see Gardner 1986, pp. 163–64, cat. no. 10, reproduced p. 458, fig. 15.