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Orate Pronobis: Six Hundred Years of Saints - Moretti Fine Art

Virgin and Child between Saints… Simone di Filippo, called ‘Dei Crocifissi’ (Documented from 1354-1399). Tempera on panel. Central panel 25 x 49.5 cm; side panels 13 x 49.5 cm.

Exhibition preview

A 14th century devotional triptych and a 21st century work by Gilbert and George will feature in the illuminating exhibition, Orate Pronobis: Six Hundred Years of Saints, being staged by Moretti Fine Art at 2a – 6 Ryder Street, London, SW1, from October 15 to November 15, 2013.

The exhibition will coincide with the second edition of Frieze Masters which takes place on Gloucester Green, Regent’s Park, from October 17 to October 20, 2013, where Moretti Fine Art will also be exhibiting.

The aim of the exhibition is to provide context for the figures of saints that are ubiquitous in Italian Old Masters and to reflect on our modern interpretation of them. Fabrizio Moretti hopes that by juxtaposing paintings of saints by artists born some 600 years apart, visitors will reflect on who these people were, their stories, their legacy, and what, if any, relevance they have today.

One of the earliest works in the exhibition, an ideal choice since it depicts eight saints, is a triptych of the Virgin and Child between Saints John the Baptist and Bartholomew (central panel); Archangel Gabriel, Saints Petronius, Christopher and Anthony (left panel); Virgin Annunciate, Saint Jerome, a Bishop Saint (Ambrose?) and Saint Florian (right panel) – by the Bolognese artist, Simone di Filippo, called ‘dei Crocifissi’, (documented from 1354, died 1399). Top image.

In excellent condition, this small work was intended for private devotion and is an important addition to the number of known triptychs by this renowned painter. The choice of the depicted saints suggests a Bolognese provenance: the bust of Saint Petronius is portrayed holding the city of Bologna, indicating his role as the rebuilder of the city in the late Antique period, iconography that became common when the saint was chosen as the city’s first patron in 1376.

Florian is also a patron Saint of Bologna, recognisable by his aristocratic garments, the sword of a noble knight and the flower in his hand. It may be that the bishop portrayed next to Saint Florian is Saint Ambrose, another patron saint of Bologna.

Gilbert and George (b. 1942, 1943). Killing, 2011. 226 x 254 cm.

In contrast is Killing by Gilbert and George which references Christian imagery while defying religious devotion by incorporating the secular. It is not meditative, but striking and intended to unsettle the viewer. The image comprises a central Cross, two flowers perhaps denoting the Virgin and the Magdalene, and two young men kneeling.

Gilbert was born in the Dolomites, Italy, in 1943, George in Devon in 1942 and they live and work together in London. They have participated in many important solo and group exhibitions including the 51st International Venice Biennale (2005), The Turner Prize (1984) and Carnegie International (1985).