The Ansidei Madonna

This altarpiece shows the Virgin on a high throne, with Saint John the Baptist on the left, and Saint Nicholas of Bari to the right. It is dated 1505 on the basis of the inscription on the Virgin's mantle.

It is known as 'The Ansidei Madonna' because it was commissioned by Niccolò Ansidei for his family chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas in the church of San Fiorenzo, Perugia. Part of the predella, the lower section of the altarpiece, showing 'Saint John the Baptist preaching' is also in the Collection. The internal architecture is not in fact entirely logical. The throne has no arms, and the steps are too steep to be practicable. They do, however, beautifully reflect the arches above and give the sense of a humble approach to the throne.

The Perugian patron probably wanted something in the tradition of the city's famous artist Perugino. On employing Raphael, influenced by Perugino, he got this and more. Raphael visited Florence in 1504. The influence of Donatello's sculpture is visible in the figure of Saint Nicholas. He would also have studied the sculptural approach of painters like Masaccio.

Key facts

Artist dates
1483 - 1520
Full title
The Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist and Saint Nicholas of Bari ('The Ansidei Madonna')
Date made
Medium and support
Oil on poplar
216.8 x 147.6 cm
Inscription summary
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1885
Inventory number
Location in Gallery

Other paintings in the group: The Ansidei Altarpiece, San Fiorenzo, Perugia