Prospero Fontana
(Bologna 1512 – 1597)

The Ascended Madonna and the Four Patron Saints of Bologna

Oil on canvas, 115 x 92 cm (45x 36 inches)

The city, with its towers, is cloaked by a dull gloom. Protecting it, at the feet of a Virgin surrounded by jubilant angels, are the magnificent Francis, Petronius, Dominic and Proculus, who Alfonso Lombardi had already placed, in terracotta, on the corner pillars of the Voltone at the Palazzo del Podestà.

As with the Sacra Famiglia coi santi Giovannino e Francesco (Holy Family with Saints John and Francis), Fontana uses a drawing here too; thus the holy grouping on a chorus of clouds reappears in a large altarpiece signed and dated 1570, once in Bologna’s Santa Maria delle Grazie church and now in Brera (Fig. 6).

Fig. 6: Prospero Fontana, Assumption of the Madonna with Saints Agostino, Chiara, John the Baptist, Francis of Assisi, Antony, Girolamo, Petronio and benefactor nun. Milan, Pinacoteca di Brera, Napoleonic Inventory no. 478.