Tommaso di Credi - The Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist - image-1

Lot 2003A Dα

Tommaso di Credi - The Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist

Auction 1197 - overview Cologne
21.05.2022, 11:00 - Old Masters
Estimate: 70.000 € - 80.000 €
Result: 93.750 € (incl. premium)

Tommaso di Credi

The Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist

Oil on panel. Diameter 86 cm..

This tondo depicts the Virgin seated on the ground, holding the Child in Her lap as He turns towards the infant John the Baptist. The scene is set in a loggia with a view of a city similar to Florence in the background. In the mid-ground of the work we see an allegorical depiction symbolising the transition from the Old Testmaent era into the beginning of the New Testament age. In an allusion to the sermon of John the Baptist in the gospels (Matt. 7:19) a tree is to be felled if it bears no fruit, in this case the first tree in the row has been cut down. Inferred motifs such as this are characteristic of paintings intended for private devotion in the home.

The present image is a typical example of the works of the Florentine Renaissance, especially of those artists trained in Verocchio's workshop. These included Lorenzo di Credi, whose style bears similarities to that used in the present image. The central group of figures is a variation on a motif found in a tondo attributed to “Tommaso” (Tommaso di Credi) in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The as yet not biographically documented artist with the notname “Tommaso” was a Florentine painter from the studio of Lorenzo di Credi. Owing to this connection, he is sometimes also referred to as “Tommaso di Credi”, and occasionally known as the “Master of the Sacra Conversazione of Santo Spirito”. This artist is known to have been a pupil and workshop partner of Lorenzo di Credi (1459-1537) and was active throughout the entire late 15th century and into the initial decades of the 16th century.

“Tommaso” was active in Florence and specialised in the production of tondi and other works for private devotion. Depictions of the Virgin and Child with Saint John in a landscape appear frequently within his œuvre, and the present work is a very fine example of this motif. In the second decade of the 16th century, Lorenzo di Credi increasingly began delegating the work in his studio to his pupils and partners, with “Tommaso” specialising in the creation of small-format works for private patrons.

The motifs used in these works were primarily based on compositions by Leonardo da Vinci, and the present work is no exception. The way in which the Christ Child turns towards John the Baptist in blessing is clearly inspired by the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci and may even be based directly on his study for the Anna Selbdritt group in the National Gallery in London or, with regards to the Child, on his “Madonna of the Yarnwinder”. This group of the Virgin and Child together with John the Baptist can also be found in works by Lorenzo di Credi, such as his tondo in the Galleria Borghese in Rome, which his workshop partner “Tommaso” later painted several variations of. Especially notable are two tondi that were recently rediscovered on the art market. The present work was painted in around 1500 to 1510.

We would like to thank Professor Dr Gaudenz Freuler for confirming the authenticity of this work upon examination of high-resolution photographs and for his kind support in cataloguing this piece.


In a South German private collection since the 19th century.


On permanent loan to the Diözesanmuseum Hofburg in Brixen from October 2013 to November 2019.