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

The Virgin of Carmel

c. 1522
Oil on canvas, 271 x 298 cm
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

Moretto was a painter influenced by Lombard naturalism but he preferred the intimate, muted study of reality characteristic of Foppa, Borgognone and Savoldo to the exuberant realism of Romanino. Among the greatest works of his youth can certainly be placed the 'Virgin of Carmel' who is presented in the powerful and carefully gauged monumentally of a Madonna of Mercy with the figures of the Carmelites the Blessed Angelo and St. Simon Stock at her sides and a crowd of devotees below, probably members of the Brescian family the Ottoboni.

The conspicuously earthly nature of the figures imparts to the celestial apparition a feeling of everyday reality, rendered with ineffable naturalness by the quiet light which defines poses, gestures, spiritual feelings themselves with such plastic objectivity. This 'bourgeois' view of appearances marks the role of primary importance played by Moretto in Lombard realism which was to see Michelangelo Caravaggio as its greatest proponent around the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth.