UNKNOWN ICON PAINTER, Cretan
The Madonna della Salute12th century
Santa Maria della Salute, Venice
The centre of the high altar in the Santa Maria della Salute holds the icon of the Madonna of Health, installed here in November 1670. It came from Candia cathedral where it was known as the San Tito Madonna or Mesopanditissa (after the day on which it was celebrated, between Christmas and the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple). Doge Morosini brought it to Venice as a trophy after peace had been made with the Turks at the end of the Candia war. Tradition has it that the artist was St Luke the Evangelist and that it is consequently a miraculous sacred image, but it was actually the work of a 12th century Madonna painter. The shadowed face and penetrating eyes are particularly effective.