Madonna and Child with Saints Paul and Agnes, and Paolo and Agnese Cassotti
(Italian, Berbenno ca. 1480–1528 Bergamo)
Oil on canvas
37 x 47 5/8 in. (94 x 121 cm)
Accademia Carrara, Bergamo. Acquired from the Solza family, 1854
Not on view
In this extraordinary devotional work, Saints Paul and Agnes kneel before the Virgin and child while the donors, Paolo and Agnese Cassotti, stand as if presenting them—a reversal of the usual positions. Paolo Cassotti was probably the wealthiest man in Bergamo, living in a grand house on the Via Pignolo, its most chic address. A merchant, he hoped to be accepted into the nobility and remained steadfast in his allegiance to Venice as the legitimate government of Bergamo. In turning to Previtali to undertake this commission, he chose an artist who had been trained in Giovanni Bellini’s workshop in Venice and who could translate the great master’s approach into a more modern vein while also acknowledging the impact that Lorenzo Lotto’s portraits (such as that of Lucina Brembati, on view here) were having on local taste. The painting may have been made at the time of the couple’s marriage in 1520.