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Girolamo da Treviso, 'The Virgin and Child with Saints and Filippo Fasanini', about 1532-3

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child with Saints Joseph, Philip and James, and Filippo Fasanini at Prayer
Artist Girolamo da Treviso
Artist dates about 1497/8 - 1544
Date made about 1532-3
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 225.4 × 147.3 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1859
Inventory number NG623
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Virgin and Child with Saints and Filippo Fasanini
Girolamo da Treviso

Filippo Fasanini, who died in 1531, instructed the executors of his will to commission this altarpiece for his chapel dedicated to Saint Philip and Saint James in S. Domenico, Bologna. It is signed on the throne’s plinth: IERONIMVS. TREVISIVS. P.[INXIT] (‘Girolamo of Treviso painted this’).

Filippo Fasanini was a professor of rhetoric and poetry at the University of Bologna. His will stipulated that the altarpiece was to represent the Virgin Mary with the infant Christ, Saint Joseph, Saint Philip, Saint James and his own likeness taken from nature. Filippo is kneeling in his black academic gown at the bottom left. His sunken features suggest that his portrait was painted from a death mask – a plaster cast of the face of the corpse. The patron’s name saint, Philip, is probably the one presenting him to the Virgin and Christ.

The altarpiece was praised by Vasari in his 1550 edition of The Lives of the Artists as Girolamo’s best work.

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