Map of Maggiore for His Madonna with Saints (1514) is backed by St George, St Sebastian & St Rocco. Rocco is a popular fixture in country churches around Lombardy; he was the patron saint of plague victims, and is always shown lifting his tunic to show the pustules on his thigh. Romanino’s raw San Gerolamo Penitente (c.1536) depicts the hermit-saint mortifying his flesh and his soul, and is juxtaposed with a more classical representation of Renaissance ideas Moretto’s Exaltation of the Holy Cross (c.1520), where the separation of the sacred from the profane is shown very literally as a horizontal layer of cloud. In Savoldo’s night-time Adoration of the Shepherds (c.1540), one shepherd gives his pal a leg-up to a high window so that he can lay eyes on the newborn Jesus, while in Moretto’s chilling Passion (c.1550), a pale Christ is slouched on a flight of steps perhaps before the crucifixion, perhaps already after death with a terrible, reproachful look in his eyes, a frozen expression that is nonetheless tempered by knowledge of the victory over death that will come. Behind, an angel, his red garment the only splash of colour amongst shades of grey, holds up Christ’s robe, his face twisted by angry tears. Map of Maggiore 2016.
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