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The Virgin and Child are centrally positioned in a pronounced horizontal arrangement. To their right are saints John the Baptist and Barbara, while on their left are the painting’s donor (identifiable because he has no halo) and St. Joseph. The figures are grouped tightly together and pressed against the foreground. This distinct composition was popularized by the early sixteenth-century Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini.

The influential Italian art historian Roberto Longhi attributed this work in 1927 to the early years of Ferrara’s court painter, Dosso Dossi. Recent research strongly suggests that the painting was made by Sebastiano Fillipi, an obscure artist who died young and is best known as the grandfather of Il Bastianino, another successful painter in Ferrara.

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