Unknown sixteenth-century painter from Crete

Mother of God of the Passion (The Amolyntos)

1500–1510 – tempera on panel, cm 69 x 55

In February 1739, Abbot Paolo Contarini, president of the Pio Luogo delle Penitenti, registered the donation of this precious icon in the institution’s records. As the church designed by architect Giorgio Massari was not finished yet, the picture was at first temporarily placed in the private oratory and then in the choir.

The many studies carried out on this painting since 1972 have led to diverging attributions: at first ascribed to a sixteenth-century anonymous Venetian-Cretan artist, the icon was later related to the art of painter Andreas Ritzos of Candia. In the light of recent studies this hypothesis however has today been refused, for the use of colour and of chrysography – obtained with a close-knit weave of golden threads covering the Virgin’s robe and mantle – certainly relate this icon to the figuration of Venetian-Cretan artists.

The scared look on the Infant’s face and his gesture of clasping the Virgin’s hand in search of reassurance is due to the apparition of Archangels Gabriel and Michael, bearing the symbols of his future passion and death. It was while running away from such frightful vision that the sandal hanging from the Child’s right foot came undone.