Gaudenzio Ferrari (copy by) - inv. 1638
The painting shows the Virgin in three-quarter pose, framed by a festoon of white, red and golden flowers. Lost in thought and with a rather melancholy expression on her face, her eyes downcast, the Virgin tenderly holds the Child close to her as he stands balancing on her knees, his gaze directed towards the spectators. Her left hand intertwines with that of her son’s. High up on the left in the background, a window opens onto a landscape view where a slender tree stands in the foreground, a few figures are grouped on the right and the mountains on the horizon recall a vaguely Leonardesque air. The completely naked Child alludes to the Passion of Christ while affirming at the same time the dogma of Incarnation, that is, that God was embodied in Christ as a true man. The premonition of the sacrifice made by Jesus is also evoked in the Virgin’s melancholy expression.
The panel is signed low down on the left, under the edge of the frame, in an old but apochryphal hand and would attribute the work to a painter from Lodi, Callisto Piazza (c. 1500–1562): “CALIXTUS LAUDENSIS. F(ECIT)”. In actual fact the composition reproduces a lost original by Gaudenzio Ferrari (c. 1475–1546), of which many copies exist by artists from his school (as The Virgin and the Child with Saint Sebastian and Saint Roch in Saint Lawrence Church in Mortara, attributed to Gerolamo Giovenone) datable to about 1525 onwards. This version was painted by an anonymous Lombard artist probably in the first decades of the seventeenth century and confirms the success that Gaudenzio enjoyed as a model for religious paintings in the seventeenth century.