Pinacoteca di Brera Informazioni

The Grazie Polyptych

Vincenzo Foppa

The polyptych, which comes from the Franciscan church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Bergamo, was dismembered at the time of the Napoleonic abolitions and came to Brera within a century. Only part of the original structure has been preserved, for example the lateral compartments of the upper row, while the frame that encloses it dates from after 1896. It is one of the artist’s masterpieces, an extraordinary altarpiece that dazzles with its profusion of gold and the preciosity of the clothes and decorations and is traditionally assigned, for its stylistic features and in the absence of documentary evidence, to the eighth or ninth decade of the 15th century.

Recently, however, documents have been found showing that in 1500 the merchant Martino Grassi donated 500 ducats to the church to pay for a work to be placed on the high altar, whose execution had already been decided on. Since in the 1520s Marcantonio Michiel described Foppa’s polyptych on the high altar of the Grazie, it is plausible that this was the one donated by Grassi, and therefore painted at the very beginning of the 16th century. In this case, the polyptych is a deliberately old-fashioned work, executed by the Brescian artist at the end of his career and probably on the basis of precise instructions supplied by the clients.

Download hi-res image TITLE The Grazie Polyptych
AUTHOR Vincenzo Foppa
DATE 1500-1505
OBJECT TYPE AND MATERIAL Tempera and oil on panel
DIMENSIONS Registro superiore San Francesco che riceve le stigmate cm 144 × 96,5; tavola centrale I santi Chiara e Bonaventura cm 140 × 98,2; tavola sinistra I santi Ludovico da Tolosa e Bernardino da Siena cm 139 × 98; tavola destra Il Salvatore benedicente cm 42 × 41; cimasa Registro inferiore Madonna con Bambino e angeli cm 185,5 × 98,5; tavola centrale I santi Gerolamo e Alessandro cm 150,5 × 96; tavola sinistra I santi Vicenzo e Antonio cm 151 × 96; tavola destra Predella Annunciazione, Visitazione, Due angeli, Natività e Fuga in Egitto cm 42 × 97 ciascuno
INVENTORY 5539-164-515-516-517-162-163-1225-2094-2095-2096
Work on display
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