Madonna and Child with Saints Anne, James the Elder and Benedict

We are going to look at this Madonna and Child with Saints Anne, Sr. Jacob and Benedict, which was also created by Andrea Celesti. This work was originally made for the altar of the Abbey of St James for the reception of pilgrims in the churches of San Faustino and Giovita. The main feature is the artist’s use of quick brushstrokes and striking colours, and although the image is very colourful, there are beams of light to dispel the gloom around the image. The work is set in the interior of a home, with Mary’s mother, Anna, holding the child and the family gathered around. In the foreground we see St James kneeling with the pilgrim’s staff in his hand, while in the further shadows we can make out St Benedict who is intently reading. The artist has chosen to focus on the subject he is trying to highlight while minimising the background, placing the figures in a dramatic atmosphere that is easily impressive. This painting, a mature work by Celesti, was discovered in 1687 in the Brescia region, at first in the Lake Garda area and then moving back to the city of Brescia.