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Possibly by Girolamo Genga, A Jesse-Tree

Key facts
Full title A Jesse-Tree
Artist Possibly by Girolamo Genga
Artist dates 1476 - 1551
Date made about 1535
Medium and support Gum or egg white? on parchment or paper
Dimensions 22.2 × 14 cm
Acquisition credit Layard Bequest, 1916
Inventory number NG3119
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Jesse-Tree
Possibly by Girolamo Genga

In the Middle Ages, the Old Testament prophecy that the Messiah would spring from the family of Jesse, the father of David, was interpreted visually as a family tree. Here, Jesse lies at the base of the tree which grows from his loins. The ancestors of Christ are shown emerging from the branches of the tree, the uppermost of which is occupied by the Virgin and Christ Child.

This small picture is painted on parchment or paper, which was commonly used for manuscript illustration. It is painted in minute detail with tiny hatched brushstrokes, and most of the decoration is picked out in gold – techniques also typical of manuscript illustration.

The painting was once believed to be by the miniaturist Giulio Clovio, but there is no evidence to suggest this was the case. It is more likely to be a late work by the Urbino artist Girolamo Genga.

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