Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Painted in Lombardy, this altarpiece shows Christ handing the large, gleaming keys of the kingdom of heaven to Saint Peter. The saint rests one foot on what resembles a cornerstone, symbolizing his role as a founder of the Church — the “rock” upon which it was built. The image thus confirms that the authority of the Church was granted by Christ himself, a central tenet of the Counter-Reformation. On the right is Saint Paul, holding the sword with which he was martyred and a book representing his epistles.

The throne of the Virgin seems to be carved out of the living rock, from which sprout roots and foliage. The emphasis on nature reveals the continuing influence of Leonardo da Vinci on the Lombard school of painting, though the crisp delineation of forms is more linear and straightforward than the ambiguity and subtlety of the great master’s work.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Girolamo Figino, Italian (active c. 1540 - c. 1570)
Previously attributed to Master of the Solomon Altarpiece, Italian (active 1550 - 1575)
Previously attributed to Gaudenzio Ferrari, Italian (Valduggia, Italy 1480 - 1546 Milan, Italy)
The Virgin and Child with Saints Peter and Paul
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Madonna and Child with Saints Peter and Paul
Work Type
16th century
Italian, Lombard, Milanese
Persistent Link
Level 2, Room 2540, European Art, 13th–16th century, The Renaissance
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Physical Descriptions
Oil on panel
sight: 149 x 146.8 cm (58 11/16 x 57 13/16 in.)
framed: 185.4 x 182.9 x 10.5 cm (73 x 72 x 4 1/8 in.)
[Stirling sale, Sotheby's, London, July 3, 1963, lot 39 as by Gaudenzio Ferrari]. [Julius Weitzner, London], sold; to Arthur K. Solomon, gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1982.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Dr. Arthur K. Solomon in memory of Susan Pulitzer Freedberg
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Fogg Art Museum Acquisitions Report (Cambridge, MA, 1968), p. 123, repr. [as by Master XL]

Giovanni Romano, Gaudenzio Ferrari e la sua scuola: I cartoni cinquecenteschi dell'Accademia Albertina, exh. cat., Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti (Turin, 1982), p. 252

Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990)

Exhibition History

32Q: 2540 Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at