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Two Copies of Perugino’s 'Baptism of Christ'

Helen Howard and Scott Nethersole
Technical Bulletin Volume 31, 2010


Two copies of Perugino’s predella of the Baptism of Christ are now in English collections: one in the collection of the National Gallery (NG 1431), the other in the Canterbury City Museum. The former was bought for the Gallery in 1894 as an autograph work by Perugino himself; the latter hung for a while on Trafalgar Square in the 1880s.

It was thought to be a work by Timoteo Viti (1469–1523), until denounced as a forgery. A similar fate befell NG 1431, which was revealed to be a 19th-century fake within several years of its acquisition. Technical examination and analysis of both works has provided firm evidence indicating that, far from being 19th-century forgeries, both are copies after Perugino, probably dating to the 17th century.

Compelling art-historical evidence suggests Sassoferrato to be the author of the National Gallery version. In addition, copies of the 'Adoration of the Magi' and the 'Resurrection' – panels which flanked Perugino’s 'Baptism' – in the Benedictine Abbey of SS. Trinità at Cava, in southern Italy, have been found to correspond to the Canterbury panel in style and palette.


Perugino, Sassoferrato, Timoteo Viti, Seventeenth-century copies, painting techniques, lead-tin-antimony yellow, ultramarine blanching, verditer

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To cite this article we suggest using

Howard , H., Nethersole, S., 2010. 'Two Copies of Perugino’s "Baptism of Christ'''. National Gallery Technical Bulletin Vol 31, pp 78–98.


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