By Angela Gonzalez, Curatorial Intern
Italian painter, Giovanni Battista Salvi was born in Sassoferrato, from where he got his nickname. During the Renaissance and Baroque periods in Italy, it was customary for artists to be nicknamed after the city from which they came from. He was trained in Umbria by his father, Tarquinio Salvi, and was especially active in Rome and, later, Umbria and Florence. Surprisingly, during the seventeenth-century, Baroque period, most of Sassoferrato’s work resembled a style more closely related to fifteenth-century, Renaissance. As opposed to typical Baroque scenes, characterized by drama, deep shadow and rich color, Sassoferrato used sweeter, softer colors to create scenes of grace and devotion.
At the request of Catholic Church during the time of the Counter-Reformation, he painted several versions of the praying Madonna, most of which are reminiscent of the works of Raphael. In this devotional painting of the Praying Madonna, Mary is dressed modestly in a royal blue cloak and a softly modeled veil. She looks downwards as her praying hands come together, in which her fingertips gently touch one another. Her skin is porcelain white and her cheeks, lips and fingertips are painted in shades of rose. Sassoferrato illustrates a tender, pure and loving Mary.