This preparatory study is the definitive model for the altar painting which Gandolfi made in 1789 for the Cathedral of Foligno, but which was badly damaged during a bombing raid in 1944. The study has thus become the most precious indication of the quality of the final painting. The Cathedral of Foligno, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1703, was rebuilt in the second half of the 18th century and decorated by Francesco Mancini. Gandolfi was chosen by Filippo Trenta, Bishop of Foligno and the patron for the altar painting for the Cathedral. Trenta stated that the study was “more beautiful than the painting” and payed the artist 50 scudi for it.
There is another study (antiques market, formerly in the Montanari collection) with two versions on the same canvas. The second is similar to the Galleria Nazionale study, but more cursory in its style. There are also references to an oil on canvas study for a male figure in the composition (Bianchi 1936, p. 82).
Lorenza Mochi Onori