MORETTO da Brescia
(b. ca. 1498, Brescia, d. 1554, Brescia)

Holy Family

Oil on canvas
Accademia Carrara, Bergamo

Brescia, an ancient town at the southernmost edge of the foothills of the Alps, was once part of the Duchy of Milan but had been ruled by the more liberal Republic of Venice since 1426. It was occupied by the French in 1509, rebelled in 1512 and was retaken and sacked, returning to Venice only in 1516. Alessandro Bonvicino, called Moretto, a native of Brescia, must have lived through these bloody events. With Savoldo, Romanino and, for a time, his own pupil Moroni, Moretto was one of the leading painters of the town, known especially for his religious pictures. Executed for patrons mainly associated with the Catholic Reformation, they are notable for their clear and explicit doctrinal content and the hypnotic power of their realism, often expressed through everyday settings and low-life models as well as through the minute depiction of surface detail.