(b. 1431, Isola di Carturo, d. 1506, Mantova)

Trivulzio Madonna

Tempera on canvas, 287 x 214 cm
Civico Museo d'Arte Antica, Castello Sforzesco, Milan

This large altarpiece was commissioned for the Olivetan monks of the monastery of Santa Maria Organo, in Verona. The Olivetan monks are a reformed order of white Benedictines, which is why the founder of the order, St Benedict, is shown on the right-hand of the painting. Standing next to him, St Jerome is holding a model of a church: the monks had ordered this painting for their newly renovated and extended church. To the left, Gregory the Great can be seen, and at his side stands John the Baptist, who is pointing to the centre of the painting, directing our gaze to the Madonna and Child. Holding the Christ Child on her lap, Mary is hovering in a mandorla of angels.

At the lower edge of the painting an angel is playing the organ, accompanied by two singing companions. The emblem of the church of Santa Maria Organo includes an image of an organ, since the monks assumed that the name of the church was derived from the musical instrument, though it was probably taken from the nearby Porta Organa.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 15 minutes):
George Frideric Handel: Concert for Organ in F major op. 4 No. 4