Saints Carlo Borromeo and Bernardino Adoring the Trinity (Album I)

WAG 1995.113


This is a preparatory study for the painted altarpiece in the parish church of Rovato, a village west of Brescia, in Lombardy in northern Italy, dated 1620. The kneeling figure on the left represents Saint Carlo Borromeo. He was one of the leading reformers of the Roman Catholic church as part of the movement to counter the Protestant Reformation. He gave protection to refugee English Catholics fleeing persecution under Queen Elizabeth I by acting as a major benefactor of the English College at Douai, France, where one of the owners of the drawing, Henry Blundell, was later educated. As a devout English Catholic, Blundell may have appreciated the drawing as much for its subject matter as for its aesthetic qualities. The figure kneeling on the right is St Bernardino of Siena. He was a popular 15th-century Franciscan preacher whose sermons promoting devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, in the form of the initial IHS (inscribed on the plaque he holds), were often attended by large crowds on his tours around Italy. The figures in the upper portion of the drawing represent Jesus Christ on the left and God on the right.