Small Madonnas and Holy Families
Raphael had even less time for the production of smaller, less important, compositions of the Madonna and Child and smaller Holy Families. As a result, it is in these pictures that one can first identify and best appreciate the individual contributions of Giulio Romano and Gianfrancesco Penni. In addition to producing work in Raphael’s name, such as the Small Holy Family and its cover which was painted for one of Raphael’s closest and most influential patrons, Cardinal Bibbiena, Raphael’s young assistants began to paint pictures which, while frequently based on or assembled from Raphaelesque motives, do not seem to have originated directly with the master but instead represent independent productions. These presage their work after the master’s unexpected death in 1520.
This section opens with Giulio’s independent work on this scale and within this category produced during Raphael’s life-time. It continues on the end and facing walls with Penni’s independent work both before and after Raphael’s death. It shows the individual characters and limitations of these young artists, and allows one to better appreciate their roles in the larger collaborative works in this exhibition.