(b. ca. 1515, Bassano, d. 1592, Bassano)
St Roche among the Plague Victims and the Madonna in Gloryc. 1575
Oil on canvas, 350 x 210 cm
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
The painting is signed in Latin at lower right: "IAC.s PO(N)TE/BASS.is/PINGEBAT." Formerly it was on the main altar of the church of S. Rocco in Venice.
This work shows an attempt to introduce a scene from life into an altarpiece, utilizing scenic devices derived from Mannerism but achieving very different results. There is an obvious kinship with Tintoretto, but Bassano has retained his own style in the impasto brushwork, the subtle taste for the picturesque and the peacefully slow movements. The novelty of this painting can be seen by comparing it with Titian's Pesaro Madonna. That work is composed similarly, on a diagonal in depth, and is also connected with a given social class, though a different one. In Titian's painting the scene is solemnly ceremonial and is laid at the door of a temple out of which the Virgin has just come. It is clear that the Venetian aristocrats and the Virgin all belong to the same exclusive elite. Here, however, the Virgin is relegated to a respectful distance, like a pendant image. The figures scattered about below, who are entirely absorbed by their own daily life and humble piety, do not notice her.