Bronzino’s painting is a recent rediscovery, first fully published in 2016. Completed c.1540-45 by the Florentine Mannerist painter, it shows Mary and Jesus with St Elizabeth and John the Baptist. It resembles other scenes by the artist, who altered each slightly to reflect different times of day – another version is in London’s National Gallery.
It first appeared for sale in 1898 in Milan, resurfacing in London, 1964, and has now been privately purchased by the Getty for an undisclosed sum.
Timothy Potts, director of the Getty, called it “the single most important addition to our 16th century paintings collection in three decades”.
Davide Gasparotto, senior curator of paintings, added: “The painting represents Bronzino at the height of his powers…it is an opulent precious object, meant not only to elicit devotion but also admiration for its virtuso quality of execution.”
It was purchased privately for an undisclosed sum, as was The Annunciation, a pair of Gothic Italian sculptures showing the archangel Gabriel addressing Mary. The figures were once in a chapel in the papal fortress in Bologna.