A period copy after the unfinished painting by Guercino, datable to 'circa' 1616, in the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation, Houston, Texas (inv. no. BF.1983.2).1 That painting would appear itself to be a second iteration of another unfinished version of the composition, in the Galleria Pallavicini, Rome (inv. no. 15), the autograph status of which has previously divided scholars, but which is attributed to the artist in full in the most recent 'catalogue raisonné' by Nicholas Turner.2 The Blaffer version (and the present copy) is painted from a closer perspective, the figures filling more of the picture frame, with the figure of the Christ Child more in proportion and the size of the Baptist's head reduced. Both original canvases provide an insight into Guercino's working methods, exploring early ideas on trial canvases, particularly in the first part of his career.
Two other painted copies are recorded: at Christ Church, Oxford and Hampton Court, and several drawn compositional studies exist, but no final realisation of the subject has so far come to light.
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