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Nymphs and Satyr, by William Bouguereau (Detail)
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Lorenzo
Lotto
Italian painter & draftsman
born circa 1480- died 1556

Also known as:
Laurent Lotto, Laurentius Lotus, Lorenzo Lotti

Nationality:
Italian

Collaborated with:

Employer of:


Biographical Information

LOTTO, LORENZO (c. 1480-1556), Italian painter, is variously stated to have been born at Bergamo [EN], Venice and Treviso [EN], between 1475 and 1480, but a document published by Dr Bampo proves that he was born in Venice, and it is to be gathered from his will that 1480 was probably the year of his birth. Overshadowed by the genius of his three great contemporaries, Titian, Giorgione and Palma, he had been comparatively neglected by art historians until Mr Bernard Berenson devoted to him an essay in constructive art criticism, which not only restores to him his rightful position among the great masters of the Renaissance, but also throws clear light upon the vexed question of his artistic descent. Earlier authorities have made Lotto a pupil of Giovanni Bellini (Morelli), of Previtali (Crowe and Cavalcaselle), of Leonardo da Vinci (Lomazzo), whilst others discovered in his work the influences of Cima, Carpaccio, Dürer, Palma and Francia. Mr Berenson has, however, proved that he was the pupil of Alvise Vivarini, whose religious severity and asceticism remained paramount in his work, even late in his life, when he was attracted by the rich glow of Giorgione's and Titian's color. What distinguishes Lotto from his more famous contemporaries is his psychological insight into character and his personal vision's unconventionality, which is sufficient to account for the comparative neglect suffered by him when his art is placed beside the more typical art of Titian and Giorgione, the supreme expression of the character of the period.

That Lotto, who was one of the most productive painters of his time, could work for thirty years without succumbing to the mighty influence of Titian's sumptuous color, is explained by the fact that during these years he was away from Venice, as is abundantly proved by documents and by the evidence of signed and dated works. The first of these documents, dated 1503, proves him to have lived at Treviso at this period. His earliest authentic pictures, Sir Martin Conway's Dana (about 1498) and the St Jerome of the Louvre (a similar subject is at the Madrid Gallery ascribed to Titian), as indeed all the works executed before 1509, have unmistakable Vivarinesque traits in the treatment of the drapery and landscape, and cool grey tonality. To this group belong the Madonnas at Bridgewater House, Villa Borghese, Naples, and Sta Cristina near Treviso, the Recanati altarpiece, the Annunciation of the Virgin at Asolo, and the portrait of a young man at Hampton Court. We find him at Rome between 1508 and 1512, at the time Raphael was painting in the Stanza della Signatura. A document in the Corsini library mentions that Lotto received 100 ducats as an advance payment for fresco-work in the upper floor of the Vatican, but there is no evidence that this work was ever executed. In the next dated works, the Entombment at Jesi (1512), and the Transfiguration, St James, and St Vincent at Recanati, Lotto has abandoned the dryness and cool color of his earlier style, and adopted a fluid method and a blonde, joyful coloring. In 1513 we find him at Bergamo, where he had entered into a contract to paint for 500 gold ducats an altarpiece for S. Stefano. The picture was only completed in 1516, and is now at S. Bartolommeo. From the next years, spent mostly at Bergamo, with intervals in Venice and Jesi in the Marches, date the Dresden Madonna, Christ taking leave of his Mother at the Berlin Gallery, the Bride and Bridegroom at Madrid, the National Gallery Family Group and portrait of the Protonothary Giuliano, several portraits in Berlin, Milan and Vienna, numerous altarpieces in and near Bergamo, the strangely misnamed Triumph of Chastity at the Rospigliosi Palace in Rome, and the portrait of Andrea Odoni at Hampton Court. In 1526 or 1527 Lotto returned to Venice, where Titian ruled supreme in the world of art; and it was only natural that the example of the great master should have fired him to emulation, though his experiments in this direction were confined to an attempt at rivalling the masters rich and ruddy color-schemes. Even in the Carmine altarpiece, the St Nicholas of Ban, which is his nearest approach to Titian, he retained his individualized, as opposed to Titian's generalized, expression of emotion. But it was only a passing phase, and he soon returned to the cooler schemes of his earlier work. Among his chief pictures executed in Venice between 1529 and 1540 are the Christ and the Adulteress, now at the Louvre, the Visitation at the Jesi Library, the Crucifixion at Monte S. Giusto, the Madonna at the Uffizi, the Madonna and Saints at Cingoli [EN], and some portraits at the Berlin and Vienna museums, the Villa Borghese and Doria Palace in Rome, and at Dorchester House. He is again to be found at Treviso from 1542-1545, at Ancona [EN] in 1550, the year in which he entirely lost his voice; and in 1552 he devoted his person and all his property to the Holy Virgin of Loreto and took up his abode with the monks of that shrine. He died in 1556. A codex in his own handwriting, discovered in the archives of Loreto, not only includes a complete statement of his accounts, from about 1539 to his death, but has a most interesting entry from which we gather that in 1540 Lotto completed the portraits of Martin Luther and his wife. These portraits could not have been painted from life; they were presumably executed from some contemporary engraving.

See Lorenzo Lotto, by Bernard Berenson (London, 1901).

Source: Entry on the artist in the 1911 Edition Encyclopedia.

   Artist Portraits

   Books and Related Products About This Artist

Bishop Bernardo de Rossi

1505
Oil on wood
Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte (Naples, Italy)

Web Gallery of Art
Added: 2001-12-19
Bishop Bernardo de Rossi
Transfiguration

1510-1512
Oil on wood
300 x 203 cm
(118.11" x 79.92")
Pinacoteca Comunale (Recanati, Italy)

Added: 2004-03-29
Transfiguration
Deposition

1512
Oil on wood
298 x 197 cm
(117.32" x 77.56")
Pinacoteca Civica (Iesi, Italy)

Added: 2004-03-29
Deposition
Madonna with the Child and Saints

1516
Oil on wood
520 x 250 cm
(204.72" x 98.43")
Church of San Bartolomeo (Bergamo, Italy)

Added: 2004-03-29
Madonna with the Child and Saints
Deposition

1516
Oil on wood
51 x 97 cm
(20.08" x 38.19")
Accademia Carrara (Bergamo, Italy)

Added: 2004-03-29
Deposition
The Martyrdom of St Stephen

1516
Oil on wood
51 x 97 cm
(20.08" x 38.19")
Accademia Carrara (Bergamo, Italy)

Added: 2004-03-29
The Martyrdom of St Stephen
Susanna and the Elders

1517
Oil on wood
50 x 60 cm
(19.69" x 23.62")
Contini Bonacossi Collection (Florence, Italy)

Added: 2004-03-29
Susanna and the Elders
Christ Taking Leave of his Mother

1521
Oil on wood
126 x 99 cm
(49.61" x 38.98")
Staatliche Museen (Berlin, Germany)

Added: 2004-03-29
Christ Taking Leave of his Mother
Christ Taking Leave of his Mother [detail: 1]

1521
Oil on wood
126 x 99 cm
(49.61" x 38.98")
Staatliche Museen (Berlin, Germany)

Added: 2004-03-29
Christ Taking Leave of his Mother [detail: 1]
Madonna and Child with Saints

1521
Oil on canvas
300 x 275 cm
(118.11" x 108.27")
Church of S. Bernardino in Pignolo (Bergamo, Italy)

Added: 2004-03-29
Madonna and Child with Saints