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Louvre: Andrea Solario – Madonna with the Green Cushion

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Andrea Solario - Madonna with the Green CushionDenon wing – 1st floor – Grande Galerie – Room 5

Happy these paintings which have a familiar and popular name that repeat all the mouths. Madonna with the Green Cushion! Pretty name, pretty canvas! In a charming pose of naturalness and abandonment, the divine Bambino, lying on a soft cushion green and supported under the shoulders by the folded arm of the Virgin, attaches to the maternal breast with the gluttony of the newborns. Although very absorbed by this occupation, his right hand plays with his foot, in a gesture of a charming grace. Above the Infant Jesus, the Virgin is inclined, in an attentive and joyous attitude, and, with her fingertips, she fixes the point of the breast on the lips of her glorious infant. The mother and the child are blond, of that particular blond, full of warmth, of which Solario certainly learned the use near Titian, in Venice, during his stay in that city. Beneath the white veil that frames it, the Virgin’s face blossoms, graceful and smiling, and radiates the joy that her sublime maternity brings to life. She is beautiful, of a delicate and fine beauty, the regular features have distinction, sweetness and, if it was not a divine subject, this delicious group could serve as a model to symbolize the tender mother . To the attention of the eyes, the wrinkling of the lips, we can guess the deep love, the solicitude in awakening that anxiously leans the forehead of women on the cradle of their children.

What art also in the distribution of colors! And as Solario has found the singing colors needed to illuminate this charming family scene. It is a harmonious symphony of tones in the midst of which palpitates and lives the blonde and rosy flesh of the Child-God.

Following the Italian fashion of the time, which worried little about likelihood, the painter placed his characters on the dark background of a large tree. The breakaway of the branches reveals, on the right and on the left, a deep landscape, bordered on the horizon by the sinuous line of bluish hills. We can see the clear spot of a river crossing the plain and, further on, meadows extend, in the middle of which tiny figures move. At that time the local color mattered little, the historical truth even less. Just as the Virgin wears a very pretty Venetian costume, so the green pastures of the picture do not recall the arid countryside of Judea. But what is the point of dwelling on these remarks? It is enough that the thought of the artist is understood, and how would it not be, when it expresses itself with this power of attraction.

Andrea Solario had the misfortune to come to the world at a time when Italy abounded in first-rate geniuses. With the gifts he possessed he would have acquired, at any other time, a certain celebrity, while he was as drowned in the flood of immortal works that the Italian Renaissance shed on the world. The glory of Titian, of Veronese, of Tintoretto, was wrong with his. He had, however, who to hold. He belonged to the family of Solari, who gave several remarkable artists; his brother, Cristoforo, was an architect of great reputation and he himself had learned to paint in the workshop of the great Leonard. He was also called Andrea del Gobbo.

Although he had lived in Venice long enough, Solario, like all the painters of the second Lombard school, suffered the exclusive influence, say the tyranny of Leonardo da Vinci. A moment freed by Borgognone, the painting of this school suddenly stopped its independent march to the summits to engage in the paths opened by the great Florentine master. But where the prodigious artist had passed, there were no more laurels to pick; barely could we pick twigs. The Lombards thus reduced themselves to being only imitators.

In Andrea Solario, this lack of originality is less noticeable, because he had the good sense of reacting and combating the leonardesque influence by the thorough study of Raphael. From the first he acquired the gift of expressing the emotions of the soul with intensity, while in the second he borrowed the art of translating the serene sweetness of the virgins. It is also to Raphael that he owes this transparency and the brightness of the flesh that can be seen in the Madonna with the Green Cushion.

Solario was also a remarkable portraitist. He enjoys a very high reputation in his lifetime, which crosses the borders of Italy. The Cardinal d’Amboise called him to France and had him paint several pictures for his castle at Gaillon in Normandy.

If, because of his artistic education, compressed by a tyrannical influence, Andrea Solario is not a very personal artist, he is not less remarkable by the perfection and the skill of his technique, and several of his paintings like Madonna with the Green Cushion, are true masterpieces.

This painting was offered to Marie de Medici by the Cordeliers de Blois. He belonged successively to Cardinal Mazarin and the Prince of Carignan, as evidenced by an inscription marked on his back. It was then bought, in 1742, by Louis XV.

Height: 0.60 – Width: 0.50 – Small nature figures.

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