(b. ca. 1484, Brescia, d. ca. 1559, Brescia)
Oil on panel, 183 x 185 cm
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice
It is already clear in this, his first definitely dated work, that Girolamo Romanino, like Lotto and Savoldo, was reluctant to enter fully into the tradition of Venetian figurative art. The panel was painted for the Chapel of the Holy Passion in the old church of San Lorenzo in Brescia and in it we can see Romanino's predilection for Titian's sonorously rich colour transposed onto a plane of popular narrative strengthened by a romantic, imaginative pathos. Against the background of a landscape which itself seems constricted in its atmosphere of profound anguish, the figures of the foreground seem to float to the surface in sharply cadenced groupings painted in timbres of a blazing quality. The influence of Lombard style which can be noted in the roundish faces painted after the fashion of Bramante, are accompanied by the influence of Northern European painting which can be seen in the view of the town glimpsed through the steamy, stormy atmosphere, in the objective quality of the portrait of the man, in the expressionistic deformation of the little human figures moving around the crosses at Golgotha.
In this earliest attributable work by Romanino, the characteristic quality of the artist's style is already evident: an expressionistic realism which seems to offer an extremely personalized reflection of the political, social and religious crises that shook the Western world in the first half of the sixteenth century.