Fra Carnevale (Bartolomeo di Giovanni Corradini) (Italian, Marchigian, active by 1445, died 1484)
Tempera and oil on wood; 57 x 37 7/8 in. (144.8 x 96.2 cm)
Rogers and Gwynne Andrews Funds, 1935 (35.121)
This picture is apparently a lateral panel from a highly original altarpiece commissioned in 1467 for the Church of Santa Maria della Bella at Urbino. A companion panel, The Presentation of the Virgin, is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The infant Virgin being bathed by midwives has the character of a genre scene and is embroidered with engaging details from everyday life. The imposing building, decorated with reliefs derived from Roman sculpture, reflects the architecture of the celebrated ducal palace at Urbino. After his training in Florence under Filippo Lippi, Fra Carnevale returned to his native Urbino, where he would have seen works by Piero della Francesca and may have known the great architect-theorist Leon Battista Alberti. The picture originally had an elaborate frame with a series of arches along the top; the present frame is seventeenth-century Bolognese.