(b. ca. 1487, Ferrara, d. after 1524, Ferrara)

Nativity with Saints

Panel (arched), 279,5 x 156,1 cm
Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome

The saints represented on the scene are Sts Francis, Mary Magdalene, and the young John the Baptist.

The painting was originally in the church of Santa Maria dei Servi in Ferrara, where it was later replaced by a copy, which the local guide of 1770 records as being located in the sacristy. The picture was transferred from Ferrara to Rome in 1527. During the restoration of the altarpiece in 1948, the date MDXXVII was discovered on the lower edge under the frame. This may refer to the time when the painting was moved rather than to the year of its execution.

The work is from the mature period of the artist, who was taught by Lorenzo Costa but came under the influence of both the Venetian style of the Bellini and the classicism of Raphael. The brush-work is similar to that of the Deposition in the Galleria di Capodimonte in Naples, dating from 1521, and the St Margaret in Copenhagen, painted in 1524. In both these works we find the same sharp and limpid treatment of volumes, as well as the pure and simple forms of the monumental figures in the foreground, together with a delicate colouring that tends toward transparent shades of blue, green, and yellow in the backgrounds.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 2 minutes):
Michael Praetorius: Motet