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About This Artwork
The Nativity, 1500/05
Tempera on panel, transferred to canvas
26.2 x 46.3 cm; 10 5/16 x 18 1/4 in.
Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933.1025
Perugino’s serene and decorous art was widely influential in his native region of Umbria and beyond, most famously through his contact with the young Raphael. These four panels, together with another one depicting the Resurrection, now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, once constituted a predella—a series of small pictures, often with narrative content, forming the base of an altarpiece. In this case, the painting that was positioned above the predella as the focal point of the altarpiece is unidentified. The predella scenes depict moments when Christ’s special nature was revealed: his birth, his baptism by Saint John the Baptist in the river Jordan, his conversation with a woman of Samaria at the well of the patriarch Jacob, the Resurrection, and his appearance to Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection.
— Permanent collection label
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Alexander Barker, London, by 1852 to at least 1857 [lent to London 1852 and Manchester 1857]; sold by Barker to William Ward (d. 1885), first Earl of Dudley, London, by 1868 [lent by Dudley to Leeds 1868]; sold Christie’s, London, June 25, 1892 (nos. 76-77, 79-80. The Resurrection, no. 78, was sold separately and is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art), to Durand-Ruel, Paris and New York, acting on behalf of Martin A. Ryerson [according to letters from Durand-Ruel to Ryerson dated June 25 and 29, 1892 in the Art Institute archives]; sold by Durand-Ruel to Martin A. Ryerson (d. 1932), Chicago, 1893 [according to the bill of sale dated April 8, 1893 in the Art Institute archives]; intermittently on loan to the Art Institute from 1893; bequeathed to the Art Institute, 1933.