Gaudenzio Ferrari    Italian         1475/80-1546
SN 41        Oil on a Wood Panel         About 1520-25

by Robert Anderson. 2000

    Ferrari was an artist of considerable power and individuality, but his work has remained comparatively little known. Early on his work was strongly influenced by Leonardo and his Milanese followers while absorbing into his work elements from Pordenone and Durer.
    His frescoes, painted in 1513, are rich in strikingly realistic detail and convey emotion with passionate intensity. Altarpieces done about the same time convey emotion with ease and grace, predominantly through rich and emotionally expressive color. Gaudenzio demonstrated a high level of achievement in portraying religious subjects and the psychological power of his protagonists is remarkable.
    He was both a painter and a sculptor combining painting with life-size statues of polychrome terracotta therby creating a radically new rendering of scenes from the Passion. The sculptures are startlingly realistic and are arranged as though on a stage to blend with illusionistic and drmatically expressive frescoes.
    In his later work in Milan Gaudenzio's art took a direction in which he placed greater emphasis on a theatrical language of gesture and expression - closer to the then prevailing style of Milanese Mannerism. He was an influential artist and a school of artists kept his style alive throughout the rest of the 16th century.

    This painting depicts the Holy Family being observed and adored by angels and an unknown cleric who was probably the patron who commissioned the painting.

    This painting shows a dignified Mary and Joseph at the right who are depicted as if having just been made aware of the holiness of their son. Joseph doffs his hat and kneeles to the child. The angels below bow reverently and adore the child while those above proclaim his divinity.
    The painting owes aspects of its forms, landscape and color as well as its lyrical expressiveness to Corregio. It is one of a series of five great paintings from the late 1520's which together constitute Ferrari's major achievement as an easel painter
    Gaudenzio Ferrari assimilated Leonardo's style mainly through his pupil Bernardino Luini, with whom he formed a lifelong friendship. He in turn provided the chief example for the next generation through his disciple, Bernardino Lanino.