CORTONA, Pietro da
(b. 1596, Cortona, d. 1669, Roma)

Madonna and Saints

Oil on canvas, 280 x 170 cm
Museo dell'Accademia Etrusca, Cortona

Pietro da Cortona's oeuvre contains splendid examples of rich altarpieces which are a triumph of his proud and exultant style. Some also provide memorable examples of Baroque taste. This painting was commissioned by the Passerini family for the church of S. Agostino in the painter's home town. In a civilized fashion, it trumpets the fact that some of the Passerini family were members of chivalrous orders. So we see the Knights of St Stephen (notice the cross on the cope of the pope, St Stephen), the Knights of Malta (represented by the figure of John the Baptist and the cloak in the centre) and the Order of Calatrava (St James the Great can be seen behind John the Baptist). Even in this quiet scene, there is an air of great energy and vigour, almost as if the saints were about to burst into song. The colours are also marvelously fresh and vivid.