Girolamo Tessari called Girolamo Dal Santo - inv. 1581
The scene is set in a broad landscape. In the middle, the founder of the Benedictine order, Saint Benedict of Norcia, with a long beard and crosier, is presenting another monk of the confraternity, recently held to be the person who commissioned the painting, to the Virgin enthroned. The two side scenes in the middle distance show, on the left, Saint Jerome in the desert in front of the crucifix and, on the right, Saint Benedict throwing himself naked among the wilderness in order to vanquish the temptations of the flesh. In the foreground, two rabbits at the feet of the Virgin symbolise the triumph of chastity over lust.
The iconographic elements indicate that the work was made for the Benedictine order and confirm the hypothesis that it might have been commissioned by the monastery of Santa Giustina in Padua, which underwent refurbishment between the end of the 15th and the middle of the 16th century.
Painted in about 1521, the work was attributed for a long time alternatively to Romanino or to Moretto, two artists from Brescia. It reveals similarities in colour choices with the first and in figure shading with the second. It also recalls Venetian artists, from Giorgione to Titian, in the setting of the scene, and northern artists in the burst of light, that colours the horizon.
Girolamo Tessari, called “Del Santo” after the district in Padua in which he lived for many years, worked exclusively in his native town. The attribution of this work to Tessari was accepted only in the 1920s thanks to stylistic affinities with other works in Padua that were certainly painted by him.