Denis Calvaert was born in Antwerp, but spent most of his life in Italy. He stayed in Bologna, where he worked with Prospero Fontana. Subsequently he moved to Rome, where he assisted Lorenzo Sabbatini with his orders for the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. He also devoted a great deal of effort and time to study the works of Raphael. He then returned to Bologna to set up his own studio, where he trained artists such as Guido Reni, Francesco Albani, Domenichino, and Annibale Carracci. With his Mannerist aesthetic, Calvaert used chiaroscuro to create contrast and power in the scene. He also became an important representative of the early 17th century classicism, characteristic of the Bologna school. His major works are held in collections in Bologna, Florence, Parma, and St. Petersburg.
The painting was created around 1610 in Bologna and reflects the influence of his teachers Correggio and Parmigianino. The figures have delicate features and coloring. Also typical is his depiction of figures in a frontal or three-quarter profile. The Virgin Mary is dressed in her traditional colors – a bold red dress and blue cloak. The landscape has a tricolor plan, which corresponds to established rules of Flemish painting. A brown color in the foreground, which blends into the green, followed by blue horizon, which gradually fades out. The figural grouping has a pyramidal composition and is placed against a dark background.
(expert opinion: Dr. Klaus Ertz, Lingen)