UNKNOWN MASTER, Italian
(active 1490-1520 in Lombardy)
Virgin and Child Enthroned with the Doctors of the Church1494
Tempera on panel, 230 x 165 cm
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
This altarpiece represents the Virgin and Child with the Four Doctors of the Church and the family of Ludovico il Moro who commissioned the painting in 1494 for the church of Sant'Ambrogio ad Nemus in Milan. The kneeling donors are the Duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro, his wife Beatrice d'Este, and their children, Ercole Massimiliano and Francesco.
This is one of the most problematical works of the late fifteenth century in Lombardy. It shows a compromise attempt to include new ideas inspired by Leonardo da Vinci in a decorative composition that is still imbued with the late Gothic spirit. Of exceptional interest is the gallery of portraits of the donors. Outstanding among them is that of Beatrice d'Este, whose biographer described her as "beautiful and dark, and inventive in designing new clothes."
The unknown painter of the altarpiece is referred to as the Master of the Pala Sforzesca.