This painting is the first of the many 'modelli' which Rubens painted as a study for the altarpiece commissioned by the Oratorians. This version was inspired by similar altar compositions by Correggio.
Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 2 minutes):Gregorian sequence
According to the original inscription, the unidentified sitter was thirty-six years old when Hals painted the portrait in 1625. The feathery touch with which Hals painted the lace ruff is one of the most attractive features of the portrait. The man's gesture, placing his hand on his heart, suggests sincerity.
The plague was a constant danger in the harbour city of Venice, and the state sought to counter it by taking careful precautionary measures, for instance the building of the Lazzaretto Nuovo as a quarantine hospital around 1470. Tintoretto's painting could equally well show the plague hospital of the Lazzaretto Vecchio, also built on an island in the lagoon as early as 1423. The young women shown here entering from the sides of the picture to wash the sick, bind up their sores, and feed them, are probably unemployed prostitutes, who were pressed into service in the Lazzaretto Vecchio in times of plague.
The so-called Raczynski Tondo was named after the private collection of which it was part before being acquired at the end of the 19th century by the Berlin Gemäldegalerie. It is possible that this is the painting that Vasari said hung in the church of San Francesco (now San Salvatore al Monte). There is a strict symmetrical structure to the composition with its life- size figures, and the finely toned down colours are very charming.
Surrounded by eight wingless angels, Mary is breastfeeding her Child. There is direct eye contact with the observer, involving him in the intimate scene. The angels are holding lilies, the sign of Mary's purity, and are engaged in antiphonal singing: while some of them are calmly waiting to start, the others are singing and reverently looking at a hymn book.
Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 4 minutes):César Franck: Panis angelicus
This is another fine example of the type of capricci Canaletto executed during his sojourn in England. It is one of a group of paintings known as the 'Lovelace Canalettos', so-called because they were sold in 1937 by the Earl of Lovelace. He had inherited them from Lord King who probably acquired them in the eighteenth century for his home, Ockham Place in Surrey.
This work is an ingenious combination of Italian and English influences - a fitting project for Canaletto to work on prior to his final return to Venice, after having spent nearly a decade in England. The general disposition of the hilly landscape and the vegetation appear English, and a bridge inspired by Westminster Bridge has been placed in the middle distance. The Corinthian column, however, decorated with an escutcheon and surmounted by a statue of a saint, and the triumphal arch, are clearly Italianate. The juxtaposition of these two sets of references cleverly and subtly encourages you to question what is real, and what is imagined.