This focused exhibition presents new findings on the Metropolitan Museum's Holy Family with the Young Saint John the Baptist, one of the Museum's greatest works of the Italian Renaissance. The Metropolitan's painting is shown alongside Charity (before 1530), a closely related panel on loan from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. The exhibition allows visitors to follow the artist's approach as he moved from drawings on paper to the preparatory underdrawings on the panels, and then to the final paintings, emphasizing the crucial role of drawings and cartoons in his workshop. The exhibition will complement Andrea del Sarto: The Renaissance Workshop in Action, a more extensive survey of the artist's work on view at The Frick Collection at the same time.
Andrea del Sarto (1486–1530) was one of the most influential artists active in Florence in the first decades of the sixteenth century. He painted the grand Holy Family with the Young Saint John the Baptist around 1528 for Giovanni Borgherini, who was prominent during the city's tumultuous, short-lived Republic, before the Medici family reestablished its rule. The imagery of Christ sharing the orb with his cousin Saint John the Baptist, Florence's patron saint, was symbolic for the Republican government. Recent technical examination and conservation of the painting have revealed the masterful underdrawing of the figures and the brilliant, sumptuous color that led Sarto to be known as "the painter without defects." The exhibition examines Sarto's decision to adapt this composition for the related panel Charity, which was likely meant as an important gift for Francis I, the French king.
"A fascinating gem of a show…"—New York Times