Ambrogio da Fossano called Bergognone - inv. 4063
The work is in excellent condition, thanks also to the thick preparatory layer spread on both sides of the panel.
The Virgin and Child was a common subject in the fifteenth century as it was much requested for private devotion. The combination of the two figures and the small landscape views in the background is typical of Bergognone's style. The idea was in fact conceived by Giovanni Bellini, but Bergognone succeeds in depicting a typically Lombard tone and atmosphere, even though the views are most probably imaginary. He concentrates much attention on these small landscapes, using just a few skilful touches to render the clear sunny skies and everyday context of provincial town life. The two views balance each other in their diversity: the one on the right shows houses mirrored in a canal; the one on the left, figures in a square with a church.
The Virgin's young face and hairstyle, with the sophisticated detail of the veil interwoven with the hair at her temples, are further characteristics of Bergognone's work. The flesh tones - in passing from the pink of the cheeks to the denser shading around the noses, mouths and eyes - are treated with great delicacy. While not looking at each other, the heads of mother and son are close together and express a certain sadness, and the solemnity of the Child's blessing contrasts with the spontaneity in holding the coral necklace, a symbol of the Passion of Christ.
The work probably dates to the first decade of the sixteenth century, as suggested by the mobility of light and shade in the two faces, no doubt a result of Leonardo's influence.
The lower part of the painting does not show the same high quality as in the two small landscapes and as in the two heads. Given the frequent repetition of the subject, even with variations, especially in the landscape views, it is possible that the clothes and hands were painted by pupils. Certainly, the drapery folds are less elegantly executed and there are none of the chiaroscuro passages to be seen in the faces, while the cushion and the Virgin's hands are somewhat rigid.