The serenity that a table of this quality transmits removes the feeling of being observing a dramatic or, at least, painful scene from the viewer. The representation of the body of Christ supported by the Virgin and St. John is quiet and affable; it is the result of a culture that has made a constant search of grace, composure and dignified representation of affections. We refer to this painting while speaking about the sphere of the Emilian master Francesco Raibolini, known as Francesco Francia, who was always considered by Vasari as a painter of a meek nature who spent part of his production plagued by an unsustainable competition with the genius of the early Italian sixteenth century: Raffaello. But although we are not in front of an autograph by Raibolini, a panel of this pictorial quality demonstrates a diffusion of the painter’s language that goes beyond the simple “research on Urbinate”, and it rather assumes quite recognizable features of the Ferrara and Po Valley tradition: in the painting we see a compositional structure, a smooth brushstroke and enlightened but not too bright colors like those of Sanzio, which refer more to the Perugian heritage. According to Vasari, France was a very prolific artist and had numerous aids and apprentices, a fact that makes it very difficult for contemporaries to identify a recognizable hand among the works that are stylistically similar to his workshop.
Bibl.: A. Venturi, Storia dell’arte italiana, VII, 3, La pittura del Quattrocento, III, Milano 1914, pp. 852-952.