Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple (?)

about 1467
Fra Carnevale (Bartolomeo di Giovanni Corradini) (Italian (Marchigian), active by 1445, died in 1484)


146.4 x 96.5 cm (57 5/8 x 38 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil and tempera on panel

On View

Museum Council Gallery (Gallery 254)





This work was part of an altarpiece painted for a church in Urbino, and the repainted area along the top reveals the shape of the original frame. The young Virgin is in the center foreground, dressed in blue. The exact subject matter of this panel remains in doubt, since the Virgin neither climbs the steps of the temple nor is welcomed by the high priest, features generally included in depictions of the Presentation. Fra Carnevale, a Dominican friar, was clearly inspired by ancient Roman architecture and sculpture as well as by the new science of linear perspective, which allowed an artist to create the illusion of deep space on a flat surface.


1467, Oratory of Santa Maria della Bella, Urbino (original commission); 1632, removed by Cardinal Antonio Barberini (b. 1607 - d. 1671), Rome [see note 1]; by descent to his nephew, Prince Maffeo Barberini (b. 1632 - d. 1685), Rome [see note 2]; until 1935, by descent within the Barberini family to Marchesa Eleanora Corsini Antinori (b. 1861 - d. 1947) and Baronessa Giuliana Corsini Ricasoli (b. 1859 - d. 1959), Florence [see note 3]. 1935, with Robert Frank Ltd., London; 1935, sold by Frank to M. Knoedler and Co., New York (stock no. A 1774); 1937, sold by Knoedler to the MFA for $85,000. (Accession Date: January 14, 1937)

[1] This painting, along with its companion panel showing the Birth of the Virgin (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), was taken by Cardinal Antonio Barberini, Papal Legate at Urbino from 1631 to 1633. On July 30, 1632 the archbishop of Urbino announced the shipment of the panels to the Cardinal, who paid to have them replaced with a painting of the Birth of the Virgin by Claudio Ridolfi. See "From Filippo Lippi to Piero della Francesca: Fra Carnevale and the Making of a Renaissance Master (exh. cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2004), p. 258, cat. no. 45, and pp. 306-307. The panels are recorded in the inventories of Antonio Barberini of 1644 (nos. 13, 14) and 1671 (nos. 405, 406); see Marilyn Aronberg Lavin, "Seventeenth-Century Barberini Documents and Inventories of Art" (New York, 1975), pp. 158, 312. [2] The paintings were included in the inventory of bequests of Cardinal Antonio in 1672 (nos. 336, 337) and in the inventory of Prince Maffeo, after 1672 (no. 161); Lavin (as above, n. 1), pp. 349, 369 [3] The daughters of Anna Barberini Colonna (b. 1840 - d. 1911) and Don Tommaso Corsini (b. 1835 - d. 1919).

Credit Line

Charles Potter Kling Fund