Museums and Art

“Holy interview”, Sebastiano del Piombo - description of the painting

“Holy interview”, Sebastiano del Piombo - description of the painting


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Holy interview - Sebastiano del Piombo. 136 x 95 cm

The plot of the picture is based on the image of the Virgin and Child Christ. Perhaps he ordered this painting to decorate the family chapel. Mary and St. Catherine with tenderness look at the boy. And the look of St. Sebastian, pierced by arrows, is directed to heaven, beyond the boundaries of the picture. Oak branches are visible in the background. This tree was considered a symbol of Christ and the firmness of faith.

Holy Interview (Italian: Sacra Conversazione) is a name accepted in Western European art to designate a composition of an artwork depicting the Virgin and Child Jesus surrounded by saints patronizing the customer’s family. A donor is also present, usually kneeling. Most often, such paintings were intended for family altars. Such works imply a silent prayer to the Virgin Mary and Jesus, all figures express quiet contemplation and thoughtfulness.

The described work is associated with the early, Venetian period of the artist. Then he was heavily influenced by his teachers Giovanni Bellini and Giorgione. This is indicated by the composition and color scheme of the work, characteristic of the Venetian school of painting. No wonder that Giorgione was considered the author of this picture for a long time.

In 1511, Sebastiano del Piombo arrives in Rome. He is invited by banker Agostino Chigi to decorate his villa with paintings. There he meets Raphael and Michelangelo. In 1531, Pope Clement VII conferred on the monastic artist the position of curator of the press, hence his nickname del Piombo (lead in Italian).

The painting is now in the Louvre. It was acquired in 1662 by the French king Louis XIV from the famous collector Eberhard Yabach. Prior to this, the work belonged to the King of England Charles I and the Duke of Mantua.


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