UNKNOWN MASTER, Italian
(active in Lombardy, 1370s)
Detached fresco, 378 x 277 cm
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
The two frescoes (Crucifixion and The Virgin and Donor) from the oratory of Mocchirolo constitute one of the most interesting and complete examples of the spreading influence of Tuscan art in northern Italy during the late fourteenth century. Count Porro, who commissioned the decoration of the oratory, is shown kneeling before the Madonna in The Virgin and Donor. Controlled and contained in feeling, the dramatic aspects of the tragedy of the Crucifixion are expressed in the noble pathos of the swooning Madonna. To maintain the equilibrium of the composition, the outward movement of her body is countered by the angels in flight and the columnar figure of St John.
The modeling of the figures, achieved through gradations of intense colour, complements the measured narrative rhythm. In the portraits of the donors (members of the Porro family) on the walls, and in the figure of St Catherine, the drawing is light and precise. In both paintings the roseate colour is laid on in thin, transparent brushstrokes, and the tenuous compositional connections have an elegant subtlety.