Disputation over the Immaculate Conception, 1516 - 1518
Girolamo Genga - Oil on panel - cm 438 × 290
God the Father, surrounded by angels, looms over the Madonna and Child with the young St. John the Baptist in the company of six saints and Church fathers debating the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, while three cherubs consult scrolls.
The picture constitutes the central panel of a larger decorative complex, commissioned in 1513 for the high altar of the church of Sant’Agostino at Cesena and dismembered during the renovations of the building in the late 18th century: it originally included a predella with Scenes from the Life of Saint Augustine (part of which came to Brera but was sold to private individuals), a finial with the Annunciation (still in its original location) and two figures of Blessed Augustinians (now lost).
The polyptych was executed between 1516 and 1518, in an already mature phase of the versatile activity of this artist, who was a painter and architect and who in his precocious contacts with the Roman milieu in the early years of the century assimilated the classical language of the artists operating there, especially Raphael and Michelangelo. On these premises he formulated a bizarre and eccentric style that made him one of the most illustrious representatives of Mannerist culture.