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Saint Filippo Benizzi
Girolamo Romanino
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This painting is part of Romanino’s high altarpiece for S. Alessandro in Brescia. It depicts Saint Filippo Benizzi and is situated to the right of an image of the Nativity, above a panel of Saint Jerome.

Saint Filippo Benizzi (1233–1285) was born in Florence. He became fifth general of the Order of the Servants of Mary (the Servite Order) and its chief propagator and organiser. The Servites were devoted to preaching the Gospel and encouraging devotion to the Virgin Mary. Saint Filippo Benizzi was beatified by Pope Leo X in 1516 and made a saint by Pope Clement X in 1671.

The church for which this altarpiece was made belonged to the Servite Order. Saint Filippo Benizzi is shown wearing the black scapular, tunic and cowl of the Servite Order and holding a lily, which is echoed in the crosier held by Saint Gaudioso, who appears opposite him.

Key facts
Artist Girolamo Romanino
Artist dates about 1484 - about 1560
Full title Saint Filippo Benizzi
Group High Altarpiece, S. Alessandro, Brescia
Date made about 1524
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 74.2 x 64.9 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1857
Inventory number NG297.5
Location in Gallery Room 2
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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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