Madonna and Child with St. Martin, St. Clare, St. Francis and St. Anthony of Padua

Madonna and Child with St. Martin, St. Clare, St. Francis and St. Anthony of Padua

Alessandro Tiarini

author
date
c. 1625–30
tecnique
oil on canvas
dimensions
300 x 200 cm
source of the artwork

formerly in the church of Santa Chiara in Faenza (now destroyed); entered the Pinacoteca following the dissolution of religious institutions after the unity of Italy in 1867

short description

This altarpiece stood on the high altar of the church in the Convent of Santa Chiara in Faenza, where it is mentioned by Canon Malvasia in 1678. This explains why St. Clare, here shown with the monstrance she used to repel the Saracens, kneels in a prominent position at the foot of the throne on which the Virgin is seated with the Christ Child. Three saints, Francis, Anthony and Martin, are depicted beside the throne. The top panel, a canvas depicting God the Father Blessing with Angels which once crowned the painting, is not currently on display owing to the restricted space. Tiarini drew his inspiration for this grandiose painting from Ludovico Carracci’s Bargellini Altarpiece, emulating the position of the Virgin, who is seated to one side rather than in the centre of the composition. Amid this varied group of figures, the Christ Child’s gaze is drawn by the figure of St. Martin, shown dividing his cloak with a poor beggar whom we see from behind. An extremely fine drawing revealing an early design for the composition is now in the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa (inv. no. 6831. 1 ). Initially attributed to Ludovico Carracci, the drawing was assigned to Tiarini by Philip Pouncey (in Benati 2001), to whom we also owe its association with the Faenza altarpiece.

  1. https://www.gallery.ca/collection/artwork/virgin-and-child-enthroned-with-saints-martin-clare-francis-and-anthony-of-padua []
inventary n°
152

This painting, together with a top panel depicting God the Father Blessing with Angels (not currently on display), was commissioned for the high altar of the church of the Poor Clares in the convent of Santa Chiara in Faenza, at a time when Alessandro Tiarini was also busy working in the church of the Ghiara in Reggio Emilia (1625–9). St. Clare is shown in a prominent position at the foot of the throne as she contemplates the Christ Child. She holds in her hands the monstrance that the author of her hagiography tells us she used to repel the Saracen threat. That the altarpiece was designed for a Minorite church is clear from the presence of St. Francis and St. Anthony beside the throne, while the figure of St. Martin alludes to the charitable acts performed by the convent. Malvasia mentions the painting in the church in 1678. Situated on the corner of Via Campidori and Via Naviglio, it was completely rebuilt by the architect Carlo Cesare Scaletta between 1710 and 1742 and was later destroyed in World War II.

The Christ Child’s gaze is drawn by the gesture of St. Martin, who is shown dividing his cloak with a poor beggar seen from behind. The scene’s narrative vein, a typical feature of Tiarini’s work, harks back to Carracci prototypes. For example, the position of the marble throne on which the Virgin is seated, over to the right by comparison with the rest of the figures, echoes the composition of Ludovico Carracci’s Bargellini Altarpiece now in the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna (1588). The detail of the backlit swelling clouds is equally inspired by that altarpiece, as is the display of affection and feeling binding the figures. The altarpiece, which is one of Tiriani’s most successful and personal works, is likely to have been painted some time after the mid-1620s, like the altarpiece with the Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine with St. Joseph, St. Barbara, St. Margaret and Angels in the Malvasia Chapel in the church of Sant’Agnese in Bologna. Tiarini was to adopt a similar composition in an altarpiece he painted for the church of San Prospero in Reggio Emilia (now in the Gallerie Estensi in Modena) depicting the Madonna and Child Crowning St. Catherine of Alexandria in the presence of St. Anne.

There is a fine preparatory drawing for the altarpiece now in the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa 1. Though initially attributed to Ludovico Carracci in an exhibition held at Colnaghi’s in London (1955). It was subsequently assigned to Tiarini by Philip Pouncey to whom we also owe its association with the Faenza altarpiece (as reported in Benati 2001).

BENATI 2001
D. Benati, Alessandro Tiarini. L’opera pittorica completa e i disegni, II, Milano 2001, pp. 88-89, no. 14

CASADEI 1991
S. Casadei, La Pinacoteca di Faenza, Bologna 1991, p. 14, no. 22

COLOMBI FERRETTI 1988
A. Colombi Ferretti, in Le tele delle cantorie, in Faenza. La Basilica Cattedrale, ed. A. Ravioli, Firenze 1988, p. 131

MALVASIA 1678
C.C. Malvasia, Felsina Pittrice: vite de’ pittori bolognesi (1678), Bologna 1841, II, p. 133

PIRONDINI 1994
M. Pirondini, Alessandro Tiarini, in La scuola dei Carracci: dall’Accademia alla bottega di Ludovico, ed. E. Negro, M. Pirondini, Modena 1994, p. 309

NEGRO 2000
E. Negro, in Alessandro Tiarini (1577-1668), ed. M. Pirondini, E. Negro, N. Roio, Reggio Emilia 2000, p. 184

LONDRA 1955
A Loan Exhibition of Drawings by the Carracci and Other Masters: From the Collection of the Earl of Ellesmere, 25 gennaio – 22 febbraio 1955, P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., London 1955

The images are the property of the Pinacoteca Comunale di Faenza. For the use of the images, please write to infopinacoteca@romagnafaentina.it.

written by
Sveva Carnevale
  1. https://www.gallery.ca/collection/artwork/virgin-and-child-enthroned-with-saints-martin-clare-francis-and-anthony-of-padua []