The Holy Family with the Infant Saint John the Baptist oil on panel 40 x 32.5cm (15 3/4 x 12 13/16in).
PROVENANCE: Spoervelt Collection (?) (according to an inscription on the reverse) With P. & D. Colnaghi and Co., London, 1952 A.E. Popham Esq. and thence by descent to the present owner
LITERATURE: F. Dallasta and C. Cecchinelli, Bartolomeo Schedoni: pittore emiliano (Modena 1578-Parma 1615) (Parma, 1999), p. 163, no. 5, ill. p. 355, fig. 62f E. Negro and N. Roio, Bartolomeo Schedoni 1578-1615 (Modena, 2000), p. 83
Several versions and copies testify to the enormous success of the present subject, known in two main compositional types, the significant difference being the position of Saint Joseph in relation to the main group. The present work belongs to the second of these types in which Saint Joseph has been moved from the foreground to the background. It is from this composition that Sisto Badalocchio took his engraving (see: Bartsch XVIII.357.25, reverse). Owing to the high level of draughtsmanship of the present painting Dr. Roio believes that it predates the engraving. The presence of a number of pentimenti, in the limbs of Christ and in the Madonna's hand, moreover, confirm that the painting is the prime version.
The present painting can be compared stylistically with other works which date to the first decade of the 17th century, such as the Charity (Museo di Capodimonte, Naples) and the Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist and Saint Francis of Assisi (Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan). The Caravaggesque use of light is coupled with a marked reference to Correggio in the facial types and postures of the figures. A clear religious message displayed through tender domestic scenes characterizes Schedoni's intimate devotional pictures for private clients, which he often produced during his second stay at the Court of Parma.
Bartolomeo Schedoni was born in Modena and moved to Parma early in his life, where he soon gained the patronage and sponsorship of Ranuccio I Farnese, Duke of Parma. After 1595, he is recorded in Rome as an apprentice to Federico Zuccari. He was back in Parma soon afterwards and the contemporary art historian, Count Carlo Cesare Malvasia, reported that the artist trained under Annibale Carracci in Bologna as well. Although this latter information has been recently disputed, Schedoni's oeuvre clearly shows a knowledge of late 16th century Emilian and Roman artistic developments; hence his interest and understanding of the Carraccesque Maniera Naturale. From the first decade of the Seicento, however, Schedoni updated Carracci's naturalistic reforms and the influence of Caravaggio becomes more apparent, especially in the use of light and the structure of his compositions.
We are grateful to Dr. Nicoletta Roio for confirming the attribution on the basis of a digital image. The painting will be published as autograph in the forthcoming publication on Caravaggio e i pittori caravaggeschi emiliani, by B. Roio and E. Negro (2013).