(b. ca. 1499, Roma, d. 1546, Mantova)

Madonna and Child

Oil on panel, 37 x 30,5 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

This little painting, designed to be used in private devotion, shows a foreshortening of the interior similar to that employed in Giulio's Madonna of the Cat (Naples, Museo Nazionale), a work that is directly connected to the composition of the Madonna of the Pearl (Museo del Prado). Though Vasari gave the latter picture to the hand of Raphael, it was instead probably carried out after the master's death by his pupil Giulio Romano. In both the Madonna of the Cat and in this small panel, the artist decided to set the scene with a domestic background instead of the more usual open landscape. This lends a tender family atmosphere that enhances the already intimate scale of this painting.

The idealized female figure, comparable to similar figures in numerous other works of Giulio Romano, is related to the ideal model of Raphael. Her specific features have been identified as those of Raphael's own lover, known to us from his paintings of the veiled Lady (Galleria Palatina, Palazzo Pitti, Florence) and the Fornarina (Palazzo Barberini).

This painting, which clearly belongs to Giulio Romano's Roman period, has been dated to 1522-23. A copy exists in the Brera Gallery in Milan.