Giacomo de Castro. Inventory of Giovanni Francesco Salernitano, barone di Frosolone, 1648. November 16, 1648, no. 8 [Archivio di Stato di Napoli, Marco Antonio Lazzerani, scheda 268, prot. 7, ff. 15–48v; published in G. Labrot, "Italian Inventories, I, Collections of Paintings in Naples, 1600–1780," Munich, 1992, p. 80], as "La Madonna con diversi puttini di Monsù Possini D.40.0.0" [apparently our picture].
Luca Giordano. Van den Eynden Estate Inventory. 1688 [Archivio di Stato di Napoli, Notaio Gennaro Palomba, sec. XVII, scheda 648, prot. 42; published in Ref. Ruotolo 1982, pp. 27–39, see p. 31 for mention of the present work], lists "Un altro di palmi 2 e 3 in circa con cornice indorata una Madonna che siede sotto un albero, S. Giovanni e puttini che scherzano mano di Monsù Posino fatto con gusto. 500".
Helen Comstock. "The Connoisseur in America: Loan Exhibition of Old Masters." Connoisseur 109 (July 1942), p. 143, ill., as by Poussin, from about 1635; associates it with his painting of the same subject in the Reinhart collection, Wintherthur, and sees Titian's influence in the figures of the playing putti; notes that the picture comes from a remote private collection in Italy and has never been engraved or even recorded.
Anthony Blunt. "Poussin Studies VII: Poussins in Neapolitan and Sicilian Collections." Burlington Magazine 100 (March 1958), pp. 80–83, 86, ill., dates it about 1630; suggests incorrectly that the Heinemann picture may have been one described in several early guidebooks as in the collection of the ducs della Torre, Naples [the della Torre picture, however, has recently come to light, see Notes]; observes that an engraving after Fragonard of the della Torre picture appears in Saint Non's "Voyage Pittoresque," comments on differences between this composition and that of the Heinemann picture and suggests that Fragonard took liberties in reproducing it.
Anthony Blunt in Exposition Nicolas Poussin. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre. Paris, 1960, pp. 65–66, no. 27. ill., dates it about 1630–31, after the Holy Family formerly in the Thyssen collection at Schloss Rohoncz; reiterrates his hypothesis that this was the picture in the della Torre collection; remarks that a copy of our picture by an Italian hand [Museo di Capodimonte, Naples, no. 924; 77.5 x 63 cm] confirms the Neapolitan provenance.
Denis Mahon. "Poussin's Early Development: An Alternative Hypothesis." Burlington Magazine 102 (July 1960), p. 297, rejects Blunt's [Ref. 1960] dating of 1630–31 and includes it with a group of small pictures, painted during 1627 when Poussin veered towards a baroque point of view; considers its composition "rather breathlessly and charmingly incoherent, in the manner of the Louvre 'Triumph of Flora'" and finds similar passages in the handling of the two pictures.
Denis Mahon. "Poussiniana: Afterthoughts Arising from the Exhibition." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 60 (July–August 1962), p. 52, reiterrates its early dating to about 1627.
Anthony Blunt. The Paintings of Nicolas Poussin: A Critical Catalogue. [London], , p. 45, no. 63, ill., disagrees with Mahon's dating early in 1627 and places it near and probably before the Death of Germanicus [Institute of Arts, Minneapolis], which he places about 1631.
Doris Wild. "Charles Mellin ou Nicolas Poussin." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 68 (October 1966), pp. 202–3, ill., attributes it to Poussin's contemporary, Charles Mellin; notes that a copy of it, which came from a private collection in Naples, is in the Capodimonte.
Anthony Blunt. Nicolas Poussin [The A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts, National Gallery of Art, 1958]. New York, 1967, p. 73, pl. 21a, places it in a group of small paintings similar in style to and executed about the same time as Poussin's "Death of Germanicus," which he now dates 1627; notes that its hills and sky are based on Titian's "Bacchanal of the Andrians," its putti on his "Feast of Venus" (both paintings in the Prado, Madrid), while the white veil and blue cloak of the Virgin are painted in the manner invented by Titian and used by many Venetian painters in the early and mid-16th century.
Jacques Thuillier. L'opera completa di Poussin. Milan, 1974, pp. 91–92, 114–15, 127, nos. 57, B19a, ill., rejects Wild's [Ref. 1967] attribution to Mellin and dates it about 1629; considers Saint Non's engraving too different in composition to be based on this painting.
Renato Ruotolo. "Aspetti del collezionismo napoletano: il Cardinale Filomarino." Antologia di Belle Arti 1, no. 1 (March 1977), pp. 73–74, 77, rejects Blunt's identification of the Heinemann picture with the one in the Filomarino/duc della Torre collection, and doubts that Fragonard would have significantly altered the composition; mentions the faithful copy of the Heinemann picture by a 17th-century Neapolitan artist in the Museo di Capodimonte, and wonders if it was the painting, similar in dimensions, described in the 1688 Van den Ey[n]den inventory.
Doris Wild. Nicolas Poussin: Leben, Werk, Exkurse. Zürich, 1980, p. 211, no. M11, reiterates her attribution to Charles Mellin.
Renato Ruotolo. "Mercanti—collezionisti fiamminghi a Napoli: Gaspare Roomer e i Vandeneynden." Richerche sul '600 Napoletano (1982), pp. 14, 24 n. 51, p. 31, publishes Luca Giordano's 1688 inventory of pictures in the Van den Eynden estate [see Ref. Eynden 1688] and identifies a "Madonna con diversi puttini" by Poussin as the Heinemann picture; mentions copies in the Capodimonte and in the Museo Correale, Sorrento.
Christopher Wright. Poussin Paintings: A Catalogue Raisonné. New York, 1985, pp. 165–66, no. 59, ill., accept's Wild's [Ref. 1980] attribution of this painting to Charles Mellin, but remarks that its "composition is clearly by Poussin, even if the handling of the paint is not"; compares its style with Poussin's "Holy Family with St. John the Baptist" (Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe) and finds it very close on the whole to his "Inspiration of the Poet" (Niedersächsische Landesgalerie, Hanover).
Pierre Rosenberg and Barbara Brejon de Lavergnée. Panopticon italiano: un diario di viaggio ritrovato, 1759-1761. Rome, 1986, p. 342 (under no. 29), reject Blunt's hypothesis that Fragonard's drawing (Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena) was made after this picture.
Konrad Oberhuber. Poussin: The Early Years in Rome. Exh. cat., Kimbell Art Museum. New York, 1988, pp. 135–38, 140, 269, no. 36, ill. (color), calls Titian's Bacchanals the most important source for both its putti and landscape.
Alain Mérot. Nicolas Poussin. New York, 1990, pp. 176, 261, ill., notes it is usually dated about 1627, but elsewhere in the text dates it about 1629; places it in a group of early works, all of upright format and rather loose in structure.
Jacques Thuillier. Nicolas Poussin. Paris, 1994, pp. 250–51, 267, 277, no. 78, ill.
Sebastian Schütze. "Exemplum Romantitatis: Poussin e la pittura napoletana del Seicento." Poussin et Rome: Actes du colloque à l'Académie de France à Rome et à la Bibliotheca Hertziana, 16–18 novembre 1994. Paris, 1996, p. 183, agrees with Ruotolo [Ref. 1977] that the identification of this painting with the one in della Torre collection is no longer tenable.
Diane De Grazia. "Poussin's 'Holy Family on the Steps' in Context." Cleveland Studies in the History of Art 4 (1999), pp. 32–33, ill., discusses the iconographical significance of the scene, interpreting the children adoring Christ as the innocents martyred for his sake, while the Holy Family fled to Egypt; considers numerous details, such as the child swimming in the nearby lake, the crown of flowers on one of the children, to be symbolic references to their baptism and martyrdom, and sees the drapery casually strewn on the ground as a reference to Christ's Passion.
Loredana Lorizzo. "Cardinal Ascanio Filomarino's Purchases of Works of Art in Rome: Poussin, Caravaggio, Vuet and Valentin." Burlington Magazine 143 (July 2001), p. 408.
Stephen D. Borys. The Splendor of Ruins in French Landscape Painting, 1630–1800. Exh. cat., Allen Memorial Art Museum. Oberlin, Ohio, 2005, pp. 115–16, ill., places it in the early 1630s and compares the setting with that of La Hyre's 1648 painting of the subject (J. B. Speed Museum, Louisville, Kentucky).
Dominique Jacquot. "Charles Mellin: Nancy and Caen." Burlington Magazine 149 (October 2007), p. 726, correctly identifies R52 in Malgouyres's Mellin exh. cat. [Ref. 2007] with the present work.
Philippe Malgouyres. Charles Mellin: Un Lorrain entre Rome et Naples. Exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Caen. Paris, 2007, p. 285, no. R52, seems unaware of this picture's present location; rejects its earlier attribution to Mellin.
Aidan Weston-Lewis. "The Early Provenance of Ribera's 'Drunken Silenus'." Burlington Magazine 149 (November 2007), pp. 783–84, ill. (color), believes it passed, along with Ribera's "Drunken Silenus" (and through the agency of Giacomo di Castro), from the Salernitano collection [see Ref. 1648] on March 1, 1653, to Gaspar Roomer, who bequeathed them to Ferdinand van den Eynden (son of his former business partner) in 1674, as part of a group of 90 paintings; identifies the MMA painting as the Poussin "Madonna che siede sotto un albero . . ." listed in the Van den Eynden estate inventory [see Ref. 1688].
Renato Ruotolo in Artemisia Gentileschi: storia di una passione. Exh. cat., Palazzo Reale, Milan. Pero (Milan), 2011, pp. 121–23, 129 n. 16, fig. 1 (color) [English ed., "Artemisia Gentileschi: The Story of a Passion", pp. 122–23, 129 n. 16, fig. 1 (color)], is unconvinced by Weston-Lewis's [see Ref. 2007] proposed Salernitano/Roomer provenance.