(b. 1494, Pontormo, d. 1557, Firenze)

Sacra Conversazione

Fresco, 223 x 196 cm
Santissima Annunziata, Florence

The fresco was originally painted on a wall of the church of San Ruffillo and transferred to the chapel of the painters at the Annunziata at the beginning of the 19th century.

Pontormo worked on models of Fra Bartolomeo and Andrea del Sarto, however, he departed decisively from these models and presented a personal reworking of the figurative material they contained by dissolving once and for all the harmonious union of forms arranged in a rationally defined and measurable space, a characteristic of the compositions of the two masters. Pontormo reduced the depth and width of space producing an effect of compression, the figures being arranged in contrasting poses (standing and kneeling, facing forwards and backwards), and characterized by a marked twisting of the bodies, especially in the Virgin and the Child.

The expressions are also anticlassical: the fixed gaze outside the painting of St Lucia, the sigh of ecstasy, almost a grimace, that emanates from the presumed figure of St Agnes and expresses all the intensity of an entirely exclusive experience, the petulant and contrary reaction of the Child at the approach of the aged St Zacharias, and lastly the unprecedentedly languid and passionate gaze that the archangel Michael directs toward the Virgin Mary.