Pittore lombardo fine XV secolo - inv. 1634 1635
Lombard artist 1450-1500
The four Doctors of the Latin Church
tempera on panel
26 x 65 cm
1879 bequest Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli
Inv. 1634 1635
The small tondos, painted on two rectangular panels, are in good condition and were originally parts of a larger polyptych. The figures depicted are the four doctors of the Latin church, Saint Jerome, Saint Ambrose, Pope Gregory I and Saint Augustine, represented with various gestures and expressions. Their heads are all tilted differently and the layout of each desk also changes; the doctors shaded faces are marked by their beards and wrinkles.
Saint Jerome, in red cardinal dress, hands holding his quill, has lowered eyes and a tilted head suggesting concentration. Saint Ambrose has his stylus on the tablet, ready to write. His other hand rests on his closed book and his head is turned upwards, indicative that he is collecting his thoughts before he puts pen to paper. Pope Gregory I is instead is taking a moment of pause. The index finger of his left hand seems to be marking his point on the page, yet his eyes are staring blankly into the distance, lost in thought. Saint Augustine is the only one and is blowing on his pen point with one hand whilst tilting his inkwell.
The anonymous artist thus demonstrates his knowledge of the stylistic innovations of the Renaissance, evident in his experimentation of perspective. The figures’ hats and aureoles extend beyond the borders, whilst the desks are within these precincts. The author shows close contact with other Lombard artists from the late 15th century, particularly Bernardino Butinone, Giovanni Donato da Montorfano and the so called ‘Master of Saint Peter in Gessate’, but his identity still remains a mystery.