The Virgin and Child, Saint Lucy and Saint Matthew

Bastianino (Sebastiano Filippi)

Ferrara, c.1532 – 1602


Oil on canvas, 227 x 156cm

This altarpiece was made in 1582 for the altar of the Augustinian nuns’ Monastero di Santa Lucia (consecrated in the same year) and joined the Pinacoteca in 1836. This canvas is one of the earliest examples of the shift in Bastianino’s style after 1580: the unfinished sfumato effect used to render the participants of this Sacra Conversazione, as well as the cloudy atmosphere that surrounds them, are proof of the artist’s acquaintance with Venetian painters Jacopo Bassano and Palma il Giovane. A dissolution of colour inspired by Titian’s late paintings permeates a structure that is still Mannerist, in this case based on Parmigianino’s Madonna di Santa Margherita altarpiece in the Pinacoteca Nazionale of Bologna. Whilst Bastianino recycled some motifs from Parmigianino’s altarpiece, the robust bodies in this Ferrarese painting demonstrate how he also looked at Dosso Dossi’s anti-classical tradition.