Charity of St. Lawrence
Bernardo Strozzi, detto il Cappuccino
Oil painting on canvas
San Lorenzo, one of the Genoese patron saints, is represented with great force of reality while giving alms to the poor, the cause of his sentence to die on the grill. On the left is Lorenzo, the young face barely emerges from the darkness that envelops the scene. The light hits him from behind, highlighting the broad red satin sleeve of the dalmatic, the open hand resting on the table, the delicate neck, the reddened ear, the halo. In front of the saint is a group of beggars: an old man with a white beard who grabs the chain of a censer, a woman standing with a stick and, next to it, a second figure brandishing a hanger, a little girl with folded hands looking at Lorenzo from below. Everyone wears humble clothes but they have attitudes and traits of human composure and dignity. Liturgical objects are placed on the table in the foreground. The light source, external to the visual field, is placed by the artist to the left of the observer: it strikes the figures violently, like a spotlight aimed in the dark, creating metallic flashes.