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High Altarpiece, S. Alessandro, Brescia

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Romanino made this painting for the high altar of Sant' Alessandro in Brescia. It may have been commissioned by the Confraternity of Corpus Christi – a lay brotherhood which venerated the body of Christ – who were responsible for the high altar.

The central panel shows the Nativity, with Mary and Joseph kneeling before the infant Christ. On either side, panels depict Saint Alexander (lower left) and Saint Jerome (lower right). Above them are Saint Gaudioso (upper left) and Saint Filippo Benizzi (upper right.)

The painting originally had a crowning panel of the dead Saviour supported by the Virgin and Saint John. It also had large canvas shutters to protect it – The Annunciation was painted on the outside of the shutters, and on the inside was The Adoration of the Magi. The elaborate frame of the altarpiece, made by the woodcarver Stefano Lamberti, which would have formed a fundamental part of it, is now missing.

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