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Montefortino, Civic Art Gallery - Pietro Alamanno, parts of a Polyptych




The three paintings conserved in the Montefortino Civic Art Gallery are part of a polyptych by Pietro Alamanno commissioned for New Saint Mary's Church, but dismantled by the 18th century. The drapery of the Madonna's dress in which she sits on her throne are rendered with a realistic chiaroscuro effect that defines well the shape of the character portrayed. Saint Cosma and Saint Sebastian, who are respectively to the right and left of the Virgin Mary and are depicted with hierarchical symmetry, seem smaller than their normal size. The former, recognisable from his clothes and the tools of his trade, was a very expert Syrian doctor who looked after poor people free of charge, and suffered martyrdom by order of the proconsul who wanted to force him to renounce the Christian religion. In general, in traditional iconography, he is depicted together with his twin brother Damian who, however, is absent from this painting. The latter, a commander of the first legion stationed in Rome, is tied to a wooden column and as usual is depicted under a hail of arrows for having taken advantage of his position to help a number of Christians imprisoned in the city. The other painting shows Saint Lucy who looks very much like the Mary Magdalene conserved in the Civic Art Gallery in Ascoli Piceno. The martyr from Siracuse, who lived at the time of Emperor Diocletian, was a noble Sicilian who suffered innumerable tortures after her decision to embrace the Christian religion and to give all her wealth to the very poor. According to the holy tradition, after the many punishments she faced for repeating her faith firmly and which she survived without being wounded, the young woman had her eyes torn out. Miraculously they were restored by Jesus Christ. Then one of her prison guards, by order of the consul Pascasius, took a knife and killed her by cutting her throat. Precisely because of this hagiographic tale, the saint is depicted with the palm of martyrdom, a dagger and a plate containing her eyes. The third painting, which is triangular, presents the Saviour at the door to the sepulchre standing in front of a row of the instruments of his Passio. The anatomical detail is particularly refined, and is obtained with greater care in the muscular tension and especial attention paid to the lines which depict a face emaciated by pain, but with an expression that reveals mute acceptance of suffering.