NEROCCIO DE' LANDI
(b. 1445, Siena, d. 1500, Siena)
Madonna with Child, St Sebastian and St Catherine of Alexandria1490s
Tempera on wood, 73 x 50 cm
Christian Museum, Esztergom
Neroccio's style remains almost unchanged in his several compositions presenting the Madonna with Child and Saints. The drawing is always perceptibly subtle and light, the colours do not glow with varnish, but enchant with their unlacquered, milky opaque effect. This painter, stemming from a distinguished patrician family, seems to have wanted throughout his life to express the nobility of the human face and the elegance of gestures and attitudes in his paintings. He did not make use of many innovations of the first half of the 15th century, and in fact one has the impression as if Neroccio, forgetting about his direct artistic antecedents, had intended to reach back to traditions of the previous century. And yet in fact he knew and employed the devices of perspective and used light and shadow in the modelling of his figures, but he was less interested in these. Neroccio had no wish to deny the two-dimensional quality of the surface he painted, and the application of foreshortening and the adding of depth to his composition concerned him only as long and inasmuch as they contributed to the harmonious effect of the composition as a whole. In the light that brushed the faces and hands he did not look for a method to achieve plastic unity and compactness, but rather for a means to expose as much of the beauties of detail as possible and to make the pictorial surface as rich as possible.