(b. 1480, Serina, d. 1528, Venezia)
Oil on panel, 64 x 90 cm
The Sacra conversazione (holy conversation) involving the Madonna and Christ Child with saints (in this case St John the Baptist and St Catherine) was a genre in which Palma Vecchio excelled. These works were painted for wealthy patrons and were intended for private devotion in a domestic environment. The figures are normally shown half-length, the Madonna and Child painted on the same scale as the figures venerating them, and they all appear to co-exist in the same picture space, without the hierarchy so typical of Renaissance triptychs and polyptychs.
Although Palma was a pioneer in the genre he often had recourse to Titian's works, as is the case here.