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Moretto da Brescia, The Madonna and Child with Saints

Key facts
Full title The Virgin with the Infant Christ, seated upon Clouds above Saint Hippolytus and Saint Catherine of Alexandria
Artist Moretto da Brescia
Artist dates about 1498 - 1554
Date made about 1540
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 235 × 142.5 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Francis Palgrave, 1884
Inventory number NG1165
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Madonna and Child with Saints
Moretto da Brescia

Saint Hippolytus gazes up at the Virgin and Child in the clouds and gestures to a distant group of buildings, probably Onzato, where this painting was originally displayed, or nearby Flero.

Saints Catherine and Hippolytus were both martyred by having their limbs broken as they refused to convert to paganism, which would have deprived them of salvation and confined them to a spiritual prison. The fractured slab of masonry with the inscription was added later to emphasise the connection between the two saints. The inscription translates as: ‘They chose to be dismembered rather than be sundered by chains everlasting.’

The painting came from the church of S. Eusebio in Onzato, a hamlet of Flero, south of Brescia. The church, which was originally part of a small convent, was ceded to Conte Tomaso Caprioli, who may have commissioned this altarpiece shortly before his death in 1538.

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