L'Ortolano, Saints Sebastian, Roch and Demetrius (detail), c. 1520
The Met own an Adoration of the Shepherds, about which the curators remark
that 'as in so many Ferrarese paintings, the landscape is enchanting, with itsmountains "rising like teeth from the plain," as they were once described.' There is a disquieting contrast between the pastoral middle ground and those strange storm-cloud like forms rising from the land beyond the water. Some more of these billowing mountains can be seen in the Fitzwilliam's St John the Baptist (right) and the Galleria Doria Pamphilj's Nativity with Saints. In these too they contrast with serene, sunlit scenes just behind the main figures. At this time painters in Ferrara such as L'Ortolano, Garofalo and Mazzolino seem to have come under the influence of Northern landscape painting. You find rock formations rearing above the landscape in paintings by Joachim Patinir, but they usually resemble shards of ice or crystals. L'Ortolano's look as if they have surged briefly into life and could soon blow away, like a summer storm.
L'Ortolano, The Adoration of the Shepherds (detail), before 1527
L'Ortolano, Nativity with Saints (detail),1520s