Oil on lapis lazuli laid on slate
In its original pietre dure and ebony frame
15.5 × 10.5 cm (6 ⅛ × 4 ⅛ in.)
22.1 × 17.3 cm (8 ¾ × 6 ¾ in.) with frame
Grifé & Escola, Madrid
Cesar Balsa Cruz, Madrid, circa 1960
This precious painting intended for private devotion can be compared with a portable altar signed and dated 1608 preserved in the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio. The central panel representing Christ on the Mount of Olives, although painted on copper, shares the same jewel-like quality together with the subtle psychology of the characters. The treatment of the shadow on the angel’s face and his hand is very close to that of Saint Catherine. Incidentally, Ligozzi also painted a small oval shape sacrifice of Isaac on lapis lazuli set in the tabernacle.
Vasari writes that the technique of painting on stone was originally developed in Rome by Sebastiano del Piombo, a rival of Raphael. The main collectors of such works were the Medici in Florence and the Borghese and Barberini families in Rome.