PENNI, Giovan Francesco
(b. ca. 1496, Firenze, d. ca. 1528, Napoli)

The Holy Family of the Book

Tempera grassa on panel, 35 x 24 cm
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

This painting was traditionally attributed to Raphael or his workshop. This was substituted at the turn of the nineteenth century by an attribution to Giulio Romano. Recently the attribution went to Giovan Francesco Penni working from a drawing by Raphael.

The balance and elegance permit the recognition of Raphael's hand in the invention of the work. At the same time, the pictorial solution - of very high quality, yet not enough to allow for full attribution to Raphael himself - shows that the composition sketched by the master during his Florentine phase must have been executed several years later in his workshop in Rome. Penni, who entered Raphael's workshop in Florence and followed him to Rome, assisting in the master's projects with a smooth and elegant hand, can be nominated as the most convincing candidate for the execution of this exceptional work, which inspired numerous copies in central Italy.