The Visit of Virgin Mary to Saint Elizabeth

The altar-piece of the Visit of Virgin Mary to Saint Elizabeth by Francesco Fontebasso (1772)

This altar-piece by the Venezian painter Francesco Fontebasso, painetd for the Chapel of the Visitation in the Church of Patrocinio della Beata Vergine Maria, commonly known as the Filippini Chapel, was donated by Ludovico Manin, son of the last Doge of Venice. Manin wished to donate this work and that of 'The Virgin Between St Filippo Neri and Francesco di Sales', which is by the same artist but which is hung in the Chapel of San Filippo.
Fontebasso was one of the most authorative figures to have followed the instruction of Sebastiano Ricci and above all Giovanbattista Tiepolo, providing a link between the two great masters of Venetian art in the 18th century. In this devotional piece, which one of the various styles used by the artist, Fontebasso hints at Tiepolo but lacks the originality and fantasy of the Venetian master, he does however convey a certain sculptural energy in the figures, showing an attention to and understanding of light.
The expressive motif is interesting and rich with delicate poetic elements, especially in the center, the moment in which the two protagonists of the piece meet seeming to rise in the space in perfect intimacy and isolation, animated with a feminine delicacy of rare intensity. On this note Fontebasso achieved a level of indisputable mastery.


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