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 - 5
OBJECT TYPE AND MATERIAL Tempera and oil on panel
DIMENSIONS Upper register: St. Francis Receiving the Stigmata cm 144 × 96,5, central panel; St. Chiara and St. Bonaventura cm 140 × 98,2 left panel; St. Ludovico da Tolosa and St. Bernardino da Siena cm 139 × 98 right panel; Christ Blessing cm 42 × 41 cymatium - Lower register: Madonna and Child with Angels cm 185,5 × 98,5 central panel; St. Jerome and Alexander cm 150,5 × 96 left panel; St. Vincenzo and St. Anthony cm 151 × 96 right panel; Predella: Annunciation, Visitation, Two Angels, Nativity and Flight into Egypt cm 42 × 97 each
INVENTORY 5539-164-515-516-517-162-163-1225-2094-2095-2096
Work on display
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