Enamel, rectangular, with canted corners, set within a filigree mount and rectangular stained wood frame, 8cm.
This exquisite miniature was part of an immense bequest from Elizabeth, Countess of Devonshire (1619-1689) to her only daughter Anne, Countess of Exeter (1649-1703).
Known as the 1690 Devonshire Schedule or Deed of Gift, it includes: ‘A picture of our Lady our Saviour and St. John the Inner fframe Gold the Outer fframe black Ebony by petito.
It seems that, at the time of the Schedule, the miniature was believed to be by Jean Petitot (1607-1691), the Swiss enamelist, then considered to be the finest exponent of the art; his long career spent almost entirely at the courts of England and France.
Known as the Elder, he trained his son, Jean Petitot the Younger (1653-1702), whose work became indistinguishable from that of his father.
Experts now attribute it more loosely to the Blois School. Blois was, for many years, one of the great centres for the art of enameling.
The original Madonna del Prato by Raphael (1483-1520), painted in 1506, is now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.