Pittore romano della fine del XVI secolo

Pittore romano della fine del XVI secolo


Landscape with the prayer of the Blessed Isidore the Labourer

oil on canvas, cm 67×124

This painting depicts an intense and bright landscape, in which we can glimpse a lake crossed by a boat and a castle on a small promontory in the foggy background. The light strikes the centre of the composition, creating a very precise perspective view, with grazing animals and various figures. In the foreground we see a young man kneeling before a splashing fountain. The hoe used by the farmworker is still stuck in the hole in the ground. 

This is clearly an episode from the life of Saint Isidore the Labourer, which tells how he miraculously created a spring with a strike of his hoe while at work. As he was intent on praying to the Lord to thank him for this miracle, an angel took his place and work and was seen tilling his fields. This was witnessed by the owner of the land, who was stunned by the event and is depicted wearing a hat. 

Stylistically, the landscape is closely reminiscent of the Roman work of Paul Brill, a Flemish landscape painter who enjoyed great success at the papal courts under Gregory XIII and Sixtus V. It is no coincidence that the place where the life of Saint Isidore the Labourer was first printed in 1477 – where he was widely venerated – was Ascoli Piceno, a city to which the Marche pope Sixtus V was very attached. Paul Brill participated in the work in the Vatican during the latter’s pontificate and this painting may have emerged from his workshop at the end of the 16th century. Also he was already widely venerated, Saint Isidore was not made a saint until 1622 (together with Saint Philip Neri) and this work precedes that date.