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Claudia La Malfa


In his 1839 monograph on Raphael, Johann David Passavant included The Virgin and Child with Saints Jerome and Francis, now at the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin. Following this initial attribution, the picture was inserted in Raphael’s catalogue raisoneéand generally dated to around 1502 or 1503. Critical debate focused particularly on questions of how the picture related to Raphael’s early work, as well as the influence of Umbrian masters to whom his formative artistic production was indebted. This article argues, through an analysis of the compositional invention and the interpretation of the landscape painted in the background, that the picture can be pre-dated to 1501 and proposes that it could have been devised for Girolamo Vagnini, his cousin, who in that year assisted him in the delivery of his first documented work at Città di Castello, the Saint Nicholas of Tolentino altarpiece.Therefore, the small Gemäldegaleriepainting would be one of the first known works by Raphael.