“He was a very capricious man, and everything was possible for him”: this is how Vasari describes Beccafumi. Heir to the great Sienese painting tradition, he was, however, also a tireless experimenter, a creator of compositions that freely and sensitively blend classicist presuppositions with the directives of early Mannerism. This oil on canvas reflects the production of a mature Beccafumi, the most Sienese one.
This anonymous painter may be looking to the works of Mecherino in the second half of the sixteenth century, when the painter returned from Rome to Siena after meeting Raphael in the Vatican Rooms, and in his hometown, he cultivated good relations with other painters of his time, in particular with the foreigner Sodoma.
The unknown painter here accentuates the luminist contrast typical of the master, enhancing the power of the candid faces of the protagonists as they emerge from the shadows. The brushstrokes are of excellent quality, refined and soft, almost in contrast with the inventive, ‘’eccentric’’ style of the mature Beccafumi.
The composition is very well balanced. Despite the very close-up devoted entirely to the Holy Family, the painter skillfully manages to render a dark but deep landscape, meagre but essential to give a work of this intensity the breathing space that allows us to thoroughly enjoy its observation.
Bibl.: Domenico Beccafumi e il suo tempo, catalogo della mostra a cura di Piero Torriti, Milano 1990.