MILAN—The long-studied and much-admired paintings depicting “The Marriage of the Virgin” by Renaissance masters Perugino and Raphael can be seen side-by-side for the first time.
Brera Art Gallery director James Bradburne said March 14 that the works, depicting the marriage of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, have long appeared next to each other in art history books, but the real-life pairing opening at the Milan museum on March 17 is the realization of a long-nurtured art-world dream.
Raphael’s painting belongs to the Brera, which has borrowed Perugino’s from the Fine Arts Museum in Caen, France, where it wound up after being looted by Napoleon in 1797.
Pietro Perugino, a well-established master at the time, completed his painting for the Perugia cathedral in 1504 after four years of work, while Raphael, one of Perugino’s students, painted his in that same year to hang in a Tuscan church.
While Raphael took many cues from Perugino, putting the couple in the foreground with a bearded priest and a temple in the background, experts have said that the works illustrate the transition from the master’s more dry depiction to the student’s more modern, humanistic style.
The show, running through June 27, is part of Bradburne’s efforts to raise the museum’s profile since taking over as director last fall. It is the first in a series of special attractions planned to maintain public interest during renovations.