Lorenzo LottoLorenzo di Tommaso Lotto was born in Venice (not Bergamo as some early writers claimed) in about 1480 (in his will of 24 March 1546 he described himself as ‘about 66 years old’). We do not know who his master was. Most of his career was spent away from Venice, in cities in the Venetian territories on the mainland and in towns in the Marches. He worked at Trevisio (1503-6, 1532 and 1542-5), Recanati (1508), Rome (where he was paid in 1509 for work in the Vatican Stanze which Raphael was then decorating), Jesi (1512 and intermittently in 1526-32), Bergamo (1513-25), Venice (1526-31, 1540-42 and 1546-49), Ancona (1549-52) and finally Loreto, where he became a lay brother of the Santa Casa in September 1554. He had strong ties with the Dominicans, for whom he painted some of his most impressive altarpieces.
His detailed account book and diary (Libro di Spese Diverse), which he kept from 1538 to 1554, was discovered at Loreto in 1892. It suggests that he was an insecure, deeply religious and solitary man, with no close family. He was undervalued in his own lifetime, at least in his native Venice, and largely forgotten after his death in late 1556 or early 1557. (In Vasari’s Lives he shares only a short biography with Palma Vecchio, Niccolò Rondinelli and Francesco Zaganelli.) Rediscovered by Giovanni Morelli (who lived in Bergamo, where Lotto’s works remained in many churches), Bernard Berenson (whose pioneering monograph appeared in 1895) and others in the late nineteenth century, he has become since the 1950s one of the most studied of Italian Renaissance painters.
Lotto was influenced at first by Giovanni Bellini and later by Leonardo, Raphael, Dürer and Titian, among others; but he was a highly personal and inventive painter, who showed striking originality from an early stage. Although he seems never to have run a large studio (he employed two apprentices during his busiest period in Bergamo and only one during his last years), his output was considerable. He completed almost forty altarpieces and painted many smaller devotional works and a few mythologies. He painted several fresco cycles in and around Bergamo in the mid-1520s, but was not invited to contribute to any of the great narrative cycles of canvases in the Doge’s Palace or Scuole Grande in Venice. His portraits are numerous and, like his other works, highly individual. They are remarkable for their intense depiction of character, and often include allegorical symbols.
All Lotto’s major altarpieces remain in Italy, but his other paintings are scattered among the world’s museums. Unlike the œuvres of his Venetian contemporaries with active workshops, Lotto’s pictures are generally of a consistent standard, with few that could be classed as only partly autograph or as studio works. It is only with his late works, painted in the last decade of his life, that an unevenness of quality is apparent.
Allentown (Pennsylvania). Museum of Art.
Saint Jerome in Penitence. Canvas, 39 x 32.
Signed and dated 1515, in gold letters on the tree stump. At least ten pictures of St Jerome by Lotto are known. This one may be that seen by the Venetian aristocrat Marcantonio Michiel in about 1525 in the house of Domenico Tassi dal Cornello at Bergamo. If so, it was probably painted for Domenico’s brother, Alvise Tassi, Bishop of Recanati, whose property passed to Domenico after he was murdered in September 1520. By about 1860 it was in Otto Mündler’s hands in Paris. Acquired by Samuel H. Kress in 1941, and allocated to the Allentown museum in 1960.
Alnwick Castle (Duke of Northumberland).
Putto Crowning a Skull with Olive. Wood, 52 x 51.
A putto places a wreath of olive leaves on a human skull resting on a white pillow. A moonlit landscape is seen through the window behind. This curious little panel has been called an allegory of love triumphing over death, but it is perhaps more likely to be a memento mori representing the triumph of death and the peace that death brings. Probably painted in Bergamo in the early 1520s.
Ancona. Pinacoteca Comunale.
Madonna and Saints (‘Pala dell’Alabarda’). Canvas, 294 x 216.
The Madonna, enthroned high upon a pedestal, is crowned by flying angels. The Christ Child, restless astride his mother’s knee, confers a blessing on St John the Evangelist, who raises his quill pen and rests the Book of Revelation on the step of the throne. The saint to the right holds a halberd, blade downwards, with a broken shaft. Traditionally called Matthias, he is now identified as Simon Zelotes. Behind him, St Lawrence holds a huge gridiron. The other deacon saint, Stephen, is almost hidden on the left. The picture was commissioned on 1 August 1538 by Simone di Giovannino Pizoni, a nobleman of Ancona, for his side altar in the church of Sant’Agostino. When the church was suppressed in the sixteenth century the picture was moved to Santa Maria della Piazza. In 1940 it was transferred to the Palazzo Ducale at Urbino and in 1950 it was moved again to the Pinacoteca at Ancona. The altarpiece originally had a predella and a lunette (which was discovered in 1994 and is now in the convent of San Domenico at Ancona).
Ancona. San Francesco delle Scale.
Assumption of the Virgin. Canvas, 600 x 403.
Child angels clutch the hem of the Virgin's mantle as she ascends to heaven. Awestruck apostles surround her empty tomb, which has filled with roses. The latest of Lotto’s surviving large altarpieces, painted when he was about seventy years of age. It was commissioned on 1 June 1549 by the heirs of Lorenzo Tudini of Ancona, who had left funds for the decoration of the chancel of the church. Lotto travelled from Venice to execute it on the spot. The price was 400 scudi (including the frame). Signed and dated 1550. In poor condition, especially the lower part.
Madonna and Saints. Wood, 175 x 162.
The elderly hermit St Anthony Abbot, resting on a staff, and the youthful Franciscan bishop St Louis of Toulouse, hand on his breast, gaze upwards at the Madonna in glory. The altarpiece, one of Lotto’s earliest, is signed and dated 1506 on the cartellino (centre bottom). It now hangs on the left wall of the nave, but its original location and patron are uncertain. In the early nineteenth century, it was in the church of Santa Caterina, near the town’s hospital. In 1820, Canova saw it in the sacristy of the Cathedral. It was taken to Venice and restored in 1826. One theory is that it was painted for the meetinghouse of the Scuola di Santa Maria Battuti at Asolo. Another is that it was commissioned by Caterina Cornaro. (It has been suggested that the Virgin is a likeness of the ex-Queen of Cyprus, but her features do not seem very distinctively different from those of other Madonnas in early paintings by Lotto.) According to Berenson, the features of St Louis are those of the youthful Dominican whose portrait by Lotto is at Upton House, Warwickshire. The landscape in the predella (25 x 146) appears to be by a different, probably slightly earlier, hand; it has been ascribed to Andrea da Murano.
Bergamo. Accademia Carrara.
Mystical Marriage of St Catherine. Canvas, 172 x 134.
Signed and dated 1523 on the footstool. On the left is the donor, Niccolò Bonghi, giving a blessing with his right hand and placing his left hand on his heart. Lotto lived in a house belonging to Bonghi in Brescia, and the picture was painted in lieu of rent. According to Ridolfi (1648), a French soldier cut out the landscape background during the French invasion of Bergamo in 1527-28, when the picture had been placed for safekeeping in the church of San Michele al Pozzo Bianco. After the Bonghi family died out, the picture passed into the collection of Count Giacomo Carrara, who founded the Accademia Carrara at the end of the eighteenth century.
Three Predella Panels. Wood, each 51 x 97.
The three panels represent: a Miracle of St Dominic (the saint raising Napoleone, the nephew of Cardinal Fossanuova); the Entombment (with instruments of the Passion conspicuous in the foreground); and the Stoning of Stephen (the figures of the two soldiers in conversation on the left probably suggested by German prints). The panels formed the predella of the altarpiece painted in 1513-16 for Santo Stefano and now in San Bartolomeo at Bergamo. When the predella was stolen in 1650, its recovery, after the payment of a ransom to the thieves, is said to have been celebrated by a peal of church bells. The predella and a triangular tympanum (now at Budapest) became separated from the altarpiece when its frame was destroyed in 1747. The predella panels were sold to the Accademia in 1893 for12,000 lire to pay for a new façade for the church. Three other panels in the Accademia with scenes from the Life of St Stephen were regarded by Berenson as the first sketches by Lotto for the predella of the Santo Stefano Altarpiece. They are now attributed to Gianfrancesco Bembo.
Holy Family with St Catherine. Canvas, 81 x 115.
Joseph lifts the cloth from the sleeping Child to show him to the praying St Catherine; the Virgin gestures to them not to wake him. Christ's tragic fate is symbolised by the sarcophagus form of the parapet on which he sleeps and by the fig tree, which is said to have provided wood for the Cross. The jasmine above St Catherine symbolises her virginity. Signed and dated 1533, a year Lotto left Venice for the Marches. Probably the picture recorded in 1632 in the possession of Roberto Canonici at Ferrara and valued at 120 ducats. Bequeathed to the Accademia Carrara in 1859 by Conte Guglielmo Lochis, who had acquired it in Milan in 1829. Many replicas and variants are known, including one (signed and dated 1529) in a private collection in Bergamo, another (sometimes ascribed to Lotto’s studio) in the Fine Arts Museum at Houston, Texas, and a variant (in which the female saint is Giustina) in the Hermitage at St Petersburg.
Portrait of Lucina Brembati. Wood, 51 x 42.
The middle-aged gentlewoman wears a large turban-like hat. Her fur stole was interpreted by Berenson as a weasel, symbol of chastity, but may be a marten, invoking protection in childbirth, or just a fashion accessory. The object round her neck was interpreted by Berenson as a horn against the evil eye but may be a jewelled toothpick. Her family name is indicated by the coat-of-arms on one of her rings and her christian name by the moon (luna) that illuminates the night sky. The portrait has been dated between about 1518 and 1523. From the collection of Countess Grumelli Albani, Bergamo; acquired in 1882.
Head of a Young Man. Wood, 34 x 28.
The young man, with a round face and long thick curls, wears a dreamy expression. Very early (about 1503-6), and probably painted in Treviso. It appeared in catalogues of the Lochis collection (1834-58) as a diptych with another portrait (now attributed to Giovanni Bellini) and with an attribution to Hans Holbein. Recognised as an early work of Lotto by Gustavo Frizzoni in his 1897 catalogue of the Accademia Carrara.
Bergamo. Sant’Alessandro della Croce.
Trinity. Canvas, 170 x 115.
The risen Christ, displaying his wounds, appears against the primrose-yellow glory of heaven. The dove of the Holy Spirit hovers above his head. Behind, an ethereal image of God the Father with hands upraised. Below, a beautiful landscape. From the church of Santissima Trinità, opposite Santo Spirito, where it was described by Michiel in about 1524-25. The picture stood over the main altar of the church, which housed a confraternity of flagellants (Confraternita dei Disciplinati dei Santissima Trinità). After the church was closed, the picture was bought at auction in 1807-8 by the curate Don Giovanni Conti, who bequeathed it to the sacristy of Sant’Alessandro. Since 2000, it has been on deposit at the Museo Diocesano at Bergamo. Restored in 2010.
Bergamo. Sant’Alessandro in Colonna. Sacristy.
Deposition. Linen, 184 x 184.
Usually dated about 1517-21. Painted in tempera on linen, it is much damaged by old cleanings and restorations.
Bergamo. San Bartolomeo.
Madonna and Child enthroned with Saints. Canvas, 520 x 250.
The Madonna is enthroned on a high pedestal, her right hand over St Dominic in prayer; also on the left are St Alexander (in armour), St Barbara (a tower in her hand), St Roch or James (with a staff) and Mark (just visible in the background). The Child blesses (on the right) St Catherine of Alexandria, St Stephen, St Augustine, John the Baptist and St Sebastian. Two putti spread a carpet over the step of the throne. Two air-borne angels hold a crown over the Virgin, and two others, standing in the circular balcony above, decorate the choir with foliage and banners. The altarpiece – one of the largest ever painted in northern Italy – is signed and dated 1516 on the throne. It was commissioned in 1513 by Count Alessandro Colleoni Martinengo, grandson and adoptive son of the famous condottiere Bartolomeo Colleoni, for the Dominican church of Santo Stefano al Fortino. Lotto was paid the very high fee of 500 golden scudi. After the church was demolished in 1561, when the walls of Bergamo were rebuilt, it was first moved to the Basella convent, then to the church of San Bernardino, and finally (in 1647) to its present location. The original frame was destroyed in 1749, when the church was redecorated in a rococo style. The predella is now in the gallery at Bergamo, while the triangular top (Angel with Globe and Sphere) is at Budapest.
Bergamo. San Bernardino in Pignolo.
Madonna and Child enthroned with Four Saints. Canvas, 300 x 275.
On the left, Joseph leans wearily on his staff and St Bernardino, cradling his monogram, receives the blessing of the Christ Child. On the right, John the Baptist points to the Madonna and Child and the elderly hermit St Anthony Abbot supports himself on his crutch. An angel kneels on the step of the throne, writing in a book. Four other angels, hovering overhead, hold up a green curtain as a cloth of honour behind the Virgin and a canopy over her head. The landscape includes the tiny detail (far right) of a village in flames. This masterpiece of Lotto’s early maturity, signed and dated 1521 on the step of the throne, is still on the altar for which it was painted. The frame dates only from 1929. Restored in 2010-11.
Bergamo. Santa Maria Maggiore.
Designs for Intarsias.
Lotto prepared over thirty cartoons for the intarsias in the church. These included the designs for four large panels (70 x 103) in the choir screen (representing David and Goliath, Judith and Holofernes, Crossing the Red Sea and the Flood) and smaller panels (44 x 46) of Old Testament scenes for the choir stalls. Lotto was paid nine lire for each of the cartoons, and payments are recorded between 1524 and 1532. We know, from a series of letters written by Lotto from Venice, that the Old Testament programme was devised by a theologian employed by the Consorzio della Misericordia but that Lotto was able to make suggestions of his own. The Story of Lot was introduced, at his request, as a reference to his name. The intarsias were executed by Giovanni Francesco Capoferri.
Bergamo. San Michele del Pozzo Bianco.
Scenes from the Life of the Virgin. Frescoes.
Lotto’s frescoes, painted for the Consorzio della Vergine, are in the little chapel to the left of the choir. They cover only the upper part of the chapel, although there appear to have been plans to decorate the walls as well. Above the entrance: the Visitation; in the lunettes: Birth of the Virgin, Annunciation, Presentation in the Temple and Marriage of the Virgin; and in the vaulting: God the Father. Signed and dated 1525 over the entrance arch. Lotto lived in the piazza across from the church. The frescoes are better preserved than the nearly contemporary ones at Trescore, but have suffered somewhat from damp. Restored in 1998-99.
Bergamo. Santo Spirito.
Madonna and Child enthroned with Four Saints. Canvas, 287 x 269.
The dove of the Holy Spirit alludes to the dedication of the church. St Anthony Abbot (far right) was the protector of the quarter of the city in which the church stands. The hospital attached to the church was dedicated to St Sebastian, who stands on the right of the throne. The chapel was dedicated to St Augustine, who stands on the left with St Catherine of Alexandria (probably a portrait). Signed and dated 1521 (on the scrap of paper beside the Leonardesque child Baptist, who embraces a lamb at the foot of the throne). The picture still occupies the altar (fourth on the right) for which it was painted. It was commissioned by Balsarino Marchetti Angelini, a prosperous Bergamasque merchant. The choir of angels may allude to his surname and the tall column on the left to his coat-of-arms.
Christ talking leave of His Mother. Canvas, 126 x 99.
Christ, departing on his final, tragic journey to Jerusalem, kneels before his mother with his arms crossed on his breast. She faints with grief into the arms of John the Evangelist and a Holy Woman (Mary Magdalene?). Another Holy Woman (Mary Salome?) or possibly Mary's mother, St Anne, stands behind them, wringing her hands. St Peter stands on the left with another apostle (James the Great or Judas?). A walled garden (perhaps symbolising Mary's virginity) is viewed through the open loggia at the end of the vaulted Renaissance hall. The subject, which does not figure in any of the four Gospels, is more common in Northern European than in Italian Renaissance painting. Signed and dated 1521. One of a pair of pictures by Lotto described by Ridolfi in the Casa Tassi at Bergamo. The lady donor kneeling on the right, with a small dog and reading a missal, is Elisabetta Rota, wife of Domenico Tassi dal Cornello. The ruined pendant (or an old copy of it) is probably a Nativity in the Accademia at Venice, which includes a portrait of Domenico Tassi. The two paintings remained together in Bergamo until the late eighteenth century, when they belonged to a Canon Gianbattista Zanchi. The Christ taking leave of His Mother was acquired by the Prussian state in 1821 with the vast collection amassed during the Napoleonic Wars by the English merchant Edward Solly.
St Sebastian; St Christopher. Two canvases, 139 x 55.
Fragments of a triptych painted for Castelplanio, near Jesi. Signed and dated 1531 on St Christopher’s staff. The figure of St Christopher seems to be derived from Titian’s fresco of 1524 in the Doge’s Palace at Venice. Both figures are repeated (in reverse) in a large picture by Lotto of St Christopher, St Roch and St Sebastian at Loretto. From the Solly collection.
Portrait of an Architect (no. 153). Canvas, 105 x 82.
The hulking bushy-bearded man wears a soft cap and holds a pair of compasses and a scroll (with Lotto’s signature). Usually now dated around 1527-30 (though Berenson had suggested about 1540). From the Giustiniani collection, Padua, which was auctioned in Paris in 1815.
Portrait of a Young Man (no. 182). Canvas, 47 x 38.
He wears a black beret and the background is a blue curtain. This sensitive portrait may date from the middle or late 1520s. Also from the Ca’ Giustiniani (where it was described as a self-portrait by Andrea Schiavone).
Portrait of a Young Man (no. 320). Canvas, 47 x 39.
The bearded man wears a lace collar and black cap; a scarlet curtain serves as the background. Signed on the parapet. Also from the Giustiniani collection (where it was described as a self-portrait of Lotto). Generally dated around 1526-27.
Portrait of a Man. Paper, 19 x 19.
The portrait was sketched in liquid oil paint on a page from a notebook or on the back of a letter. The attribution is established by an old inscription on the back (‘a portrait from life by master Lorenzo Lotto of Venice’). Acquired in 1902 with the large collection of drawings assembled by Adolf von Beckerath. Previously catalogued among the museum’s nineteenth-century drawings, its true authorship has been recognised only recently (see Aidan Weston-Lewis in the October 2005 Burlington Magazine).
Boston. Museum of Fine Arts.
Madonna and Child with SS. Jerome and Nicholas of Tolentino. Canvas, 94 x 78.
The small coffin, and the marble altar slab on which it stands, presumably allude to Christ’s future sacrifice. In the landscape on the left are tiny figures of two travellers with an ass, escorted by a soldier with a spear and harquebus. A replica – virtually identical but less well preserved – in the National Gallery, London, is signed and dated 1522. A third version, also dated 1522, in the Palma Camozzi Vertova collection at Costa di Mezzate (Bergamo), is slightly smaller, has a plain dark rather than landscape background, and substitutes St John the Baptist and St Catherine of Siena for St Jerome and St Nicholas. The Boston version is first recorded in 1811 in the hands of a Parisian dealer called Varisco and passed into the collection of Joséphine Bonaparte at Malmaison. Sold by Joséphine’s grandson (Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte) in London in 1840, when it was bought for £33 12s by Sir John Easthope of Abergele, Wales. It remained with Easthope’s descendants until 1955. Acquired by the museum in 1960 from the New York dealer Rudolf J. Heinemann. Once suspected to be a copy, its high quality was revealed by cleaning. The many revisions, revealed by X-rays, in the underdrawing suggest that it is the original version.
Brescia. Pinacoteca Tosio-Martinengo.
Adoration of the Shepherds. Canvas, 147 x 166.
There is a tradition that the shepherds, one of whom holds a lamb over the Child, are the Gussani brothers, and the angels and the Virgin are their brothers and sisters. More recently, the donor shepherds have been tentatively identified as two brothers of the noble Baglioni family of Perugia. The picture, which probably dates from the late 1520s or early 1530s, may be one seen by Ridolfi in the Padri Reformati at Treviso. It was bought by Count Paolo Tosio from Giovanni Querci della Rovere of Florence (who claimed that it was painted for the ‘Counts Baglioni’) in 1824.
Budapest. Fine Arts Museum.
Angel with Globe and Sceptre. Wood, 48 x 54.
Originally the top of the San Bartolomeo Altarpiece. The main panel is still in the church at Bergamo and the predella is in the Carrara Gallery there. The altarpiece was broken up and its monumental frame destroyed in 1749 when the church was redecorated in a Rococo style. The Angel with Globe and Sceptre was given to the carpenter, who sold it. It was bought by the Budapest Museum from Luigi Resimini in Venice in 1895.
Sleeping Apollo. Canvas, 45 x 74.
The canvas has been cut down substantially on the right; Apollo was probably originally in the centre of the picture. He is shown sleeping on Mount Parnassus, surrounded by his bow and arrows, spear and violin and the garments of the nine Muses. Four Muses appear on the left; the other five were presumably on the right. Winged Fame hovers overhead, a trumpet in each hand. The picture corresponds to one described in Lotto’s account book (‘Apollo asleep on Parnassus with the Muses going each her own way and Fame taking flight’), which was unsold in a lottery of his works at Ancona in 1550. It passed from the Duke of Buckingham’s collection into the Imperial collection at Vienna, and was later at Buda Castle with an attribution to the seventeenth-century Dutch School. It was recognised as a work of Lotto only in 1953, by Andor Pigler, when it was in the museum’s reserve collection.
Cambridge (Mass.). Fogg Art Museum.
Portrait of a Dominican Friar as St Peter Martyr. Canvas, 90 x 69.
He is represented with a cleaver in his head and dagger in his heart, and holds a New Testament in his left hand. Possibly one of two portraits of Dominican friars with the attributes of Peter Martyr noted in Lotto’s account book. One is of Gian Andrea of San Giovanni e Paolo in Venice, painted in October 1548, and the other is of Angelo Ferretti of San Domenico in Ancona, painted in September 1549. The cleaver in the skull had been painted out at one time, and was revealed by cleaning in 1923. Another restoration in 1953 revealed Lotto’s signature and the inscription credo in unum deum to which the friar is pointing. Bought in London in 1906.
Celana (near Bergamo). Santa Maria Assunta.
Assumption of the Virgin. Canvas, 250 x 210.
Astonished apostles reach out after the Virgin, as she soars upwards between two adoring angels. She lets slip her girdle, which would be caught by Doubting Thomas. (He is the small figure on the hill to the left, rushing late to the scene.) An old apostle wearing spectacles peers into the empty tomb, which has filled with roses. The picture, described by Ridolfi as ‘much praised’, remains in situ above the high altar. Signed and dated 1527 on the scroll on the ground to the left. It was probably painted in Venice and transported to the village of Celana along the river Po and its tributary the Adda. The three apostles embracing on the right have been thought to be portraits of Lotto, the jeweller Bartolomeo Carpan and the architect Zuan del Coro.
Cingola (Macerata). San Domenico.
Madonna of the Rosary. Canvas, 384 x 264.
The Madonna gives a pearl rosary to St Dominic. Behind him stand Thomas Aquinas or Vincent Ferrer (pointing upwards) and Mary Magdalene (said to be a portrait of Sperandia Franceschina Simonetti, who ordered the altarpiece). On the right, the kneeling St Esuperanzio (patron saint of Cingola) offers a model of the town to the Child. Behind him are a nun (perhaps St Sperandia or St Clare) and St Peter Martyr (with a knife in his head). Beneath the Virgin’s throne, three putti scatter rose petals from a wicker basket. In the background, fifteen medallions hanging from a rose hedge represent the mysteries of the rosary (from bottom left: the Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Circumcision, Christ among the Doctors, Agony in the Garden, Flagellation, Crowning with Thorns, Way to Calvary, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, Pentecost, Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin). Signed and dated 1539 under the throne. The picture was commissioned by the Confraternita del Rosario for their altar in the church of San Domenico. It was transferred in the 1970s to the church of San Niccolò and then to the Pinacoteca Comunale, but has now been returned to San Domenico. Restored for the 2011 Lotto exhibition at the Quirinale, Rome.
Cleveland (Ohio). Museum of Art.
Man on a Terrace. Canvas, 110 x 102.
The finely dressed man sitting on a terrace seems about to leap from his chair, extending his left hand as if to call someone. Signed and dated 15?5 (probably 1525) on the parapet. From the von Oppenheim collection at Vienna; acquired by the Cleveland Museum in 1950.
Cracow. National Museum.
‘Sacra Conversazione’. Wood, 40 x 29.
St Francis, St Catherine of Alexandria and the Infant Baptist worship the Madonna and sleeping Child; between St Francis and the Madonna is the head of St Jerome (or Joseph?). Signed on the marble block on which the Virgin sits. On the back of the little panel is the mark of Don Gaspar de Haro y Guzmain, who was viceroy of Naples in 1682-87 and owned Raphael’s Alba Madonna and several Lottos. The picture was later with his heirs in Spain. In 1908, it was seen by Berenson in Count Sigismund Puslowski’s collection in Cracow. An early work, dated by Berenson about 1508. Discoloured varnish and repaint were removed in 1996-97.
Credaro (near Bergamo). San Giorgio.
The frescoes were painted for an open chapel and are partly ruined by exposure. The main scene is a Nativity with SS. Sebastian and Roch. There are figures of saints on the adjacent walls and, over the high altar of the church, a St George slaying the Dragon. Signed and dated 1525 over the arch.
Dijon. Musée des Beaux Arts.
Portrait of a Woman. Wood, 36 x 28.
She is dressed very modestly, without jewellery, her light brown hair covered by a simple net cap. A very early portrait (about 1505-6?), traditionally ascribed to Holbein and first attributed to Lotto in 1906 by Frizzoni. It has been speculatively suggested that the sitter is Giovanna Rossi, sister of Bishop Bernardo de’ Rossi, and that an allegory (A Maiden’s Dream) in Washington served as its cover. As Giovanna died in 1502, the portrait might – if she were the sitter – be posthumous. Bequeathed by Edma Trimolet in 1878.
Madonna and Infant John. Wood, 52 x 39.
The composition, with the two children embracing and kissing, is Leonardesque, as is the misty landscape. Recorded at Dresden since 1809. The picture was unattributed until 1891, when Lotto’s signature and the date 1518 were discovered on the parapet.
Edinburgh. National Gallery of Scotland.
Madonna and Saints. Canvas, 82 x 105.
Signed on the scroll held by St Jerome and studied by the Christ Child. St Francis stands on the right pointing to the stigmata in his side. St Peter and a female saint (Clare?) stand behind. In the strip of landscape visible above the green cloth of honour, two woodmen fell a tree; there are similar figures in Giovanni Bellini’s Death of St Peter Martyr in the National Gallery, London. A very early, strongly Bellinesque work (about 1505). The picture is damaged as a result of its transfer from panel, which probably took place in the eighteenth century when it was in the Orléans collection. It was purchased by the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater at the Orléans sale in 1798. On loan to the Edinburgh gallery from 1946; purchased in 1984.
El Paso (Texas). Museum of Art.
Portrait of a Man with Allegorical Symbols. Canvas, 101 x 80.
The bearded middle-aged man points to objects hanging from a garland of laurel. Those on the left (including a pearl with sapphires and an ox head) may represent worldly wealth, while those on the right (including an armillary sphere and crossed palm branches) may represent intellect and fame. The portrait was once owned by Sir Charles Robinson, the London connoisseur and art historian, and was later in collections in Vevey and Milan. Acquired by Samuel H. Kress in 1954.
‘Sacra Conversazione’. Canvas, 87 x 69.
The Virgin rests in St Anne’s lap. On the left, St Jerome introduces Joseph (or Joachim), who is possibly a portrait of the artist. Signed and dated 1534. First recorded in 1713 in the collection of Grand Prince Ferdinando de’ Medici. There is an autograph replica in the Courtauld Galleries, London.
Susanna and the Elders. Wood, 66 x 50.
The subject is from the History of Susanna (placed at the end of the Book of Daniel in Jerome's Vulgate Bible but considered apocryphal by Jews and Protestants). In Lotto's unusual treatment, the elders burst through the door of a walled garden and surprise the naked Susanna. One holds a scroll with the Latin inscription: ‘We saw you fornicating with a young man. If you do not do what we say, you will perish by our testimony’. Susanna’s reply is written on the scroll behind her: ‘I would rather die than sin. Alas for me.’ Signed and dated 1517. Susanna’s pose may derive from an antique statue of the Kneeling Venus (now in the Prado). From the Contini Bonacossi collection.
Head of a Young Man. Wood, 28 x 25.
Very early (about 1503-6), and probably painted in Treviso. Traditionally ascribed to Leonardo (and supposed in the eighteenth century to be a portrait of Raphael), it was recognised as a work of Lotto by Gluck in 1910. X-rays have revealed that the frontal, close-up head was painted over a portrait in three-quarter profile. Once in the Casa Cornaro at Venice, it was one of the many Venetian pictures collected by Cardinal Leopoldo de’ Medici.
Florence (Settignano). Villa I Tatti.
Crucifixion. Wood, 25 x 18.
The crucified Christ is shown among symbols of the Passion (the kiss of Judas, the rooster that crowed after Peter's denial of Christ, the column, whip and birch, the hand that slapped Christ's face, the hand holding the rope that bound Christ, the crown of thorns, the reed sceptre, the hammer, nails and pincers, the spear and sponge, and Christ's raiment with three dice thrown onto it). This tiny panel is thought to have been painted by Lotto for his own devotion. It was formerly in the Borromeo collection at Milan. After the Palazzo Borromeo was destroyed by bombing during the Second World War, the picture passed into the hands of the art dealer Alessandro Contini Bonacossi, who gave it to Bernard Berenson as a gift in 1953-54.
Giovinazzo (11 km from Bari). San Domenico.
Saint Felix. Canvas, 139 x 57.
The centre panel of a triptych, which contained side panels of St Anthony of Padua and St Nicholas of Tolentino and a lunette with a Pietà. It appears from an entry for 16 June 1542 in Lotto’s account book that the triptych was commissioned by a certain "Domini de Juvenazo' and was to cost thirty ducats and be completed by the end of the year. The Saint Felix was discovered by Berenson in 1897 ‘in a dust heap behind the high altar’. Restored in 1911, 1951 and 2015.
Harewood House (near Leeds).
Portrait of an Elderly Man. Canvas, 87 x 68.
He has long white hair and a long forked beard and sits hunched wearily in an armchair. His pose – a handkerchief in his right hand and gloves in his left – is very like that in Lotto’s superb Portrait of an Old Man in the Brera, which probably dates from about 1543. Traditionally described as a portrait of the explorer Sebastian Cabot and later supposed to represent Christopher Columbus. Bought by Henry Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood, in 1920 for £2,700 from the London dealer Arthur Ruck. In the same year, it was published as a work of Lotto by Roger Fry in the Burlington Magazine. The portrait was included in the 1955 edition of Berenson’s monograph and in Canova’s 1975 L’Opera Completa, but appears to have been largely ignored by the more recent literature.
Jesi. Pinacoteca Civica.
Entombment. Wood, 298 x 198.
An early picture of great emotional intensity. The large group of mourners includes the Virgin (who throws up her arms in grief), the kneeling Magdalen (who shrieks as she holds Christ’s hand in her hair), the two other Maries (one on the left wringing her hands and the other in the background tearing her hair), a fair-haired John the Evangelist, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus (who lower Christ into the sarcophagus) and St Peter (at the right edge). Instruments of the Passion (hammer, pliers, crown of thorns and INRI plaque) are displayed in the foreground. In the sky, child angels hold up a cloud bearing the monogram of the Holy Name of Jesus. The dramatic composition may owe something to Donatello’s Paduan Lamentations as well as Raphael’s Borghese Entombment of 1507. Commissioned on 27 October 1511 by the Confraternity of Buon Gesù (Holy Name of Jesus) for the church of San Floriano at Jesi. Signed and dated 1512. Three years earlier, in June 1508, the confraternity had commissioned Signorelli to paint its altarpiece, but he had failed to fulfil his contract.
Virgin and Child enthroned with Saints ('Madonna delle Rose'). Wood.
In the main panel (155 x 160), St Jerome offers his Vulgate Bible to the enthroned Virgin, while the infant Christ on her lap reaches out for Joseph. Rose petals and rosebuds are scattered around the base of the throne. In the lunette (85 x 160), St Francis receives the Stigmata and St Clare kneels with a reliquary. Signed and dated 1526 on the pedestal of the throne. From the church of the Reformed Franciscans, San Francesco al Monte, at Jesi (deconsecrated in 1866).
Virgin; Angel Gabriel. Two panels, each 82 x 42.
This small Annunciation, painted on two separate panels, may originally have formed the sides of a triptych. From the Convento dei Minori (San Floriano) at Jesi, and possibly one of two pictures, with unspecified subjects, mentioned by Lotto in a letter of 12 August 1527 as having been recently sent to the Marches.
St Lucy Altarpiece. Main panel, 243 x 237; predella panels, each 32 x 69.
Most unusually for an altarpiece, the main panel represents a narrative scene from the life of the saint. The story, taken from the Golden Legend, begins in the left-hand predella panel. St Lucy (wearing a yellow robe and red cloak) visits the shrine of St Agatha with her sick mother Euthicia. She experiences a vision of St Agatha, cures her mother and gives away her dowry to the poor. The story continues with the little scene (left of the curtain) on the centre predella panel. Lucy’s jilted financé, furious at losing her dowry, has her brought before the Roman judge, Paschasius. The story now shifts to the main panel. Lucy argues with Paschasius, who orders her to be removed to a brothel for refusing to worship idols. However, when ‘the ribalds’ try to drag her away, the Holy Spirit renders her immovable. In the right-hand part of the centre predella panel, she is harnessed to a team of oxen. This scene is continued on the last predella panel, which shows another six pairs of oxen straining to shift her. Like Lotto’s much earlier Entombment of 1512, the altarpiece was painted for the Franciscan church of San Floriano at Jesi. It was ordered by the Confratti dell’Ospedele di San Lucia on 11 December 1523 for 220 ducats, but it was not completed (according to the inscription) until 1532. The picture was painted in Venice and transported by sea and by ox cart. Transferred to the museum after 1861.
Visitation. Canvas, 152 x 152.
The scene is set in the house of Zechariah (Zachary). He stands in the doorway, while his elderly pregnant wife St Elizabeth greets her young cousin, the Virgin Mary, who is accompanied by two companions bearing gifts. The objects on the mantelpiece (orange, gourd, jar, paper and writing materials) and the flowers (violets) strewn on the floor are likely to have symbolic significance. The lunette of the Annunciation (103 x 152) was originally framed with the Visitation to form an altarpiece. Signed with a date (formerly read as 1530) that is now illegible. Like the Madonna delle Rose of 1526, it was painted for the church of San Francesco al Monte at Jesi and moved to the Pinacoteca in 1866 when the church was deconsecrated.
London. National Gallery.
Giovanni Agostino and Niccolò della Torre. Canvas, 84 x 68.
Signed and dated 1515(?) on the arm of the chair. The names of the sitters are given in Latinised form on the folded papers held by the elderly man and on the letter on the table behind. Giovanni Agostino, prior of Bergamo’s College of Physicians, died in 1516 at the age of 81. Niccolò, his only son, was an eminent physician and member of the city council. The volume in Giovanni Agostino’s left hand is a medical treatise by Galen. The figure of Niccolò, placed rather awkwardly in the background, was added later. It has been radically restored at least three times. Before 1812 (when the portrait was engraved by Gaetano Zancon) it was repainted to show Niccolò with a large round-brimmed hat. In 1859 it was repainted again (by the famous Milanese restorer Giuseppe Molteni) and the round hat was converted into a cap. Most of these repaints were removed in a 1965 restoration. The portrait remained in the Della Torre palazzo at Bergamo (5 Via Donizetti) until 1812, when it was sold to Conte Teodoro Lechi. Bought by the National Gallery in 1862 from the art historian Giovanni Morelli for £320.
Family Group. Canvas, 115 x 140.
Signed on the wall, upper right. Probably the picture of ‘Messer Zuane de la Volta’ (Giovanni della Volta), his wife and two children recorded in September 1547 in Lotto’s account book. Della Volta was Lotto’s landlord in the Rialto district of Venice. Lotto claimed that the picture was worth fifty ducats (with its cover), but he accepted twenty for it (equivalent to a year’s rent). The cherries, given to the children from the silver bowl by the parents, may allude to the pleasures and brevity of life or to the ‘fruits of marriage’. Acquired by Sir Richard Worsley, who was ‘British Resident’ in Venice from 1793 to 1797, from the dealer and physician Giovanni Pietro Pellegrini. Worsley’s Venetian pictures were plundered by a French privateer from the ship transporting them to England and sold in Malaga in 1801. A selection of pictures, including the Lotto, was bought by Lucien Bonaparte, who was in Spain as ambassador to the Bourbon court. Sold in London in 1816 (with a misattribution, resulting from a false reading of the signature, to the German artist Johann Carl Loth). Acquired around 1823 by the merchant and collector Edward Solly, whose daughter Sarah Solly bequeathed it to the National Gallery in 1879.
Virgin and Child with SS. Jerome and Nicholas of Tolentino. Canvas, 90 x 74.
The saint on the right is often identified as Anthony of Padua, but he wears the black habit of the Augustinian order. Signed and dated on the coffin under the Child’s feet. Previously read as 1521, the date was revealed as 1522 during restoration in 1979. The painting, which was damaged during the Second World War when in storage in a Welsh quarry, is in poor condition: restoration conceals many paint losses. (The head of St Jerome is well preserved.) An almost identical replica in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is better preserved and, perhaps, superior in quality. There is a variant, also signed and dated 1522, in which the saints are John the Baptist and Catherine of Alexandria, in the Castello of Costa di Mezzate (near Bergamo). Lotto seemed to have worked freehand in copying his design from one canvas to another, rather than using cartoons or tracings. The miniature coffin on which Christ is supported presumably alludes to his future sacrifice or conquest of death. Bequeathed by the picture dealer Martin Colnaghi in 1908.
Portrait of a Lady (Lucrezia Valier?). Canvas, 96 x 111.
The fashionable young woman wears a splendid panelled dress of orange silk and green velvet and a ribboned bonnet. Standing by an empty chair (perhaps alluding to an absent husband), she addresses the viewer with bold directness, holding in her left hand a drawing of the Roman heroine Lucretia and gesturing with her right towards the table, on which rests a wallflower and a sheet of paper giving Livy’s version of Lucretia’s last words. Probably the ‘lady with a portrait of Lucretia in her hand’ described as a ‘good copy’ after Giorgione in a 1797 inventory of pictures in the Ca Pesaro at Venice. The sitter is possibly Lucrezia Valier, who married Benedetto Pesaro in January 1533; but this identification cannot be certain, as Lucrezia was a common name. By 1828 the portrait had passed into the hands of the Abate Luigi Celotti, a Venetian curate turned dealer, who sold it as a Giorgione to the Scottish dealer James Irvine. The attribution to Lotto was made by Crowe and Cavalcaselle (1871), when the picture was in Robert Holford’s collection in Dorchester House, London. Acquired by the National Gallery for £23,100 in 1927, when much of the Holford collection was sold at Christie’s. Technical analysis in 1998 showed that at one stage both the tablecloth and background had a pattern of stripes like that on the lady’s dress.
London. Courtauld Institute Galleries.
Holy Family. Canvas, 59 x 79.
Signed and dated 1535(?) on the cushion. A replica of the picture, dated 1534, in the Uffizi. Acquired by Count Seilern in 1949 from A. Hoffmann, Vienna. Bequeathed with the ‘Prince’s Gate collection’ to the Courtauld Institute in 1978.
The Entombment. Canvas, 37 x 55.
Christ's body is carried to the rock cut tomb by the turbaned Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. John the Evangelist walks alongside, and a group of grieving women, led by the Virgin Mary, follow behind. A very late work, comparable with the Presentation in the Temple at Loreto. Acquired by Count Seilern from a private collection in Florence. Bequeathed 1978.
Portrait of a Young Man. Paper, 34 x 30.
The head of a young man, wearing a triangular soft hat over a tangle of long curly hair, drawn in black chalk on green-tinted paper. Praised by Berenson (1956) as 'perhaps Lotto's best drawing'. The drawing, which does not correspond to any known painted portrait, is usually dated early (around 1508-15). Formerly in the collection of the art historian Archibald George Blomefield Russell, it was acquired by Count Seilern at Sotheby's in 1955 and bequeathed to the Courtauld Institute in 1978 with the 'Princes Gate collection'. Exhibited at the Royal Academy (In the Age of Giorgione) in 2016.
Portrait of a Man with a Skull. Canvas, 113 x 89.
The skull is presumably a vanitas symbol – a reminder of the transience of human life. A statue of Apollo stands on a plinth in the right background. The picture is extremely damaged. Formerly in the collection of Paolo Paolini of Rome, it was acquired by Count Seilern at Vienna in 1928 and bequeathed with the 'Princes Gate collection' in 1978. Accepted by Berenson (1956) as an autograph work of Lotto's maturity (1540s), and the attribution has been retained by the museum. Not exhibited.
Portrait of Andrea Odoni. Canvas, 105 x 117.
This spectacular portrait is signed and dated 1527. Andrea Odoni was a wealthy Milanese merchant and renowned collector of antiques. He is shown surrounded by his collection, including a colossal head of Hadrian in the right foreground and coins scattered on the table. He holds a statuette of Diana in his right hand and a small crucifix between the fingers of his left hand, which he clasps to his chest (perhaps symbolising the precedence of Christianity over pagan antiquity). The picture was seen in his house on the Fondamenta del Gaffero at Santa Croce in 1532 by Michiel, who describes it as a ‘half-length portrait in oil of Andrea contemplating ancient marble fragments painted by Lorenzo Lotto’. Vasari also saw it in the Casa Odoni, where it hung alongside paintings by Girolamo Savoldo, Palma Vecchio and Titian. It was inherited by Odoni’s brother Alvise, and remained in Venice until around 1623, when it was shipped to Amsterdam by the Flemish merchant Lucas van Uffelen. It was among twenty-four pictures given to Charles II by the States of Holland in 1660. Its origins were lost and it underwent attributions to Giorgione and Correggio until, in 1863, the signature and date (lower left) were discovered.
Portrait of a Young Bearded Man. Canvas, 54 x 40.
The sitter has dark shoulder-length hair, bushy beard and an enormous moustache, and wears a black quilted silk doublet over a white shirt. Another of the pictures given to Charles II by the States of Holland in 1660. Ascribed to Giorgione in the reigns of James II and Queen Anne and to Titian (as a portrait of Aretino) in an inventory of 1818. The attribution to Lotto, as a comparatively early portrait, was made in Crowe and Cavalcaselle’s A History of Painting in North Italy (1871), and was accepted in Berenson’s 1895 monograph and by most subsequent critics. However, it has recently been questioned. In a review in the Burlington Magazine of the 2007 exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery of Italian art in the Royal Collection, Nicholas Penny suggested that it could have been painted around 1515 by Andrea Previtali (who worked in Bergamo at the same time as Lotto and was strongly influenced by him).
Man holding a Glove. Canvas, 58 x 46.
The young clean-shaven sitter, wearing a black round cap and a fur-lined coat with slashed sleeves over a white shirt, holds a brown glove to his chest and glares at the spectator over his left shoulder. The portrait was acquired by Frederick, Prince of Wales, George II’s eldest son, in 1731 from the Capel collection (whose red seal is still visible in the bottom left corner). Attributed to Giorgione (sometimes as a self-portrait) throughout the nineteenth century, and later ascribed to various other Venetian or North Italian painters (Dosso Dossi, Savoldo, Palma Vecchio, Cariani and Altobello Melone). First attributed to Lotto only in 1942 by Philip Pouncey. The attribution was accepted by Berenson in his revised 1955 monograph and (with reservations) by Shearman in his 1983 catalogue of early Italian pictures in the Royal Collection, but has been doubted by a number of recent writers.
Loreto. Palazzo Apostolico.
St Christopher, St Roch and St Sebastian. Canvas, 275 x 232.
The picture was presumably intended as a votive offering: St Roch and St Sebastian were commonly invoked for protection against the plague, while St Christopher was a protector against disaster and sudden death. Signed on a paper scroll, which is inscribed with an eye and wrapped round a snake. From the church of the Santa Casa at Loreto. It hung in the second chapel on the right of the nave, where it was seen by Vasari, who said that it was painted before Lotto moved to Loreto. On stylistic grounds, it has been dated around 1532-35. The picture remained in the chapel until 1824, when it was moved to the Palazzo Apostolico and replaced by a mosaic.
Saint Michael driving Lucifer from Heaven. Canvas, 167 x 135.
Possibly the Saint Michael, noted in Lotto’s Libro di Spese, for which he acquired a frame in Trent in 1545; and almost certainly the Michael and Lucifer included in Lotto’s auction of paintings in Ancona in 1550. One of six canvases by Lotto (all preserved in the Palazzo Apostolico) recorded by Vasari in the choir of the church at Loreto.
Baptism of Christ. Canvas, 170 x 135.
Lotto records the picture in March 1544 in his Libro di Spese. He was then working at Treviso. He sent the picture to the gilder Giovanni Maria da Legnago in Venice to sell. It remained unsold, and was among the pictures Lotto took with him to Loreto. Until 1853 it hung in the choir of the church.
Adoration of the Child. Canvas, 172 x 255.
A late near replica of the picture of about 1535-39 in the Louvre. Lotto probably took the earlier version (unsold in the 1550 auction) with him to Loreto and made a replica of it for the religious community.
Sacrifice of Melchizedek. Canvas, 172 x 248.
Melchizedek, King of Sodam and a high priest, gives thanks as Abram returns victorious from Chedar-laomer (Genesis, 14, 17-19). The picture is recorded in 1545 when Lotto, who was living in Treviso, sent it to Giovanni Maria da Legnago to sell in Venice.
Christ and the Adulteress. Canvas, 105 x 132.
A late replica of the painting of about 1530 in the Louvre.
Adoration of the Kings. Canvas, 170 x 135.
One of Lotto’s very last works, probably painted after he moved to Loretto in 1552. It is first mentioned by Vasari (1568), who saw it in the choir of the church at Loreto. Along with the other pictures in the choir, it was moved to the Palazzo Apostolico in 1853.
Presentation of Christ in the Temple. Canvas, 170 x 135.
This sketchily-painted canvas is probably Lotto’s last work, and was possibly left unfinished at his death in 1556 or 1557. The old man at the open door high up on the right might be a self-portrait. A quirky detail is that the altar table is supported by human feet.
Los Angeles. J. P. Getty Museum.
Madonna with Two Donors. Canvas, 88 x 114.
The Child, astride the Virgin’s knee, blesses a husband and wife portrayed in profile. The fig tree growing behind the green curtain could symbolise fertility or the Resurrection. Probably painted in Bergamo towards the mid-1520s. Possibly a picture mentioned by Boschini (1660) in the collection of Paolo del Sera, a Florentine living in Venice. Once in the Palazzo Rospigliosi, Rome, and later in the Benson collection at Richmond and the collection of the newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst in New York. Acquired by the Getty in 1977.
Portrait of a Jeweller. Canvas, 79 x 66.
The sitter has been plausibly identified as Gian Pietro Crivelli, a Milanese jeweller who vouched for Lotto in 1509 when the artist went to Rome. The rings standing on their side on the ledge may originally have been supported by a glass rod that is no longer visible. There is no record of the portrait earlier than about 1900 when it was in the Richard von Kauffman collection, Berlin. Acquired by Getty in 1953. Sold by the museum in January 2011 at Sotheby’s, New York, for $578,500.
Marsilio Cassotti and His Bride Faustina. Canvas, 71 x 84.
Marsilio puts the ring on his bride’s finger. The laurel-crowned Cupid, fluttering behind them, puts a yoke on their necks. Signed and dated 1523. Commissioned by Marsilio’s father, Zanin (Giovanni), of Bergamo, for whom Lotto painted a number of other pictures, including the Marriage of St Catherine, dated 1524, at Rome (Galleria Nazionale). We know from Lotto’s accounts that the price was thirty ducats, later reduced to twenty. In Madrid by 1666, when it is recorded in the Alcázar.
Saint Jerome. Wood, 99 x 90.
A late work, and possibly the Saint Jerome recorded by Lotto in his account book as having been painted for his friend Vincenzo Frigerio (Frizier) for the special price of eight ducats in 1546, soon after Lotto’s return from Treviso to Venice. There is a smaller variant (without the angel flying down with the tablet) in the Doria-Pamphili Gallery, Rome.
Madrid. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection.
Portrait of a Man. Wood, 43 x 35.
Bust of a young man with full beard, black tunic and cap, against a plain green background. Auctioned in 1974 as a portrait by Lotto and acquired by Thyssen-Bornemisza in 1977. It has been dated both early and late. It has been called a self-portrait because of the position of the eyes, but it is not unusual for Lotto’s sitters to look directly at the viewer.
St Joseph and the Virgin’s Suitors. Wood, 45 x 35.
According to the apocryphal Gospel of James, ‘Mary’s many suitors left their staffs in the temple one night so that God could indicate whom she should marry. Joseph’s staff blossomed with flowers … indicating that he was the one chosen’. Nothing is known of the history of this little panel, which was acquired in 1976 on the Italian art market. It has been attributed to Lotto as an early work (about 1508). On loan to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya at Barcelona
Assumption. Wood, 27 x 58.
Eleven apostles gaze up in wonder as the Virgin ascends to heaven on a mandorla of cloud. The twelfth apostle, St Thomas, runs down the hill on the right to catch up with his companions. A panel from the predella of the altarpiece painted by Lotto in 1512 for the church of Santa Maria di Castelnuovo at Recanati. The main panel, a Transfiguration, is in the gallery there. Another predella panel is in St Petersburg.
Portraits of Febbo da Brescia and Laura da Pola. Canvas, each 91 x 77.
Febbo, a bearded man of middle years, wears a fur-lined robe and leans against a parapet, holding a pair of gloves in his left hand. Laura, much younger, sits in chair draped with red velvet and rests her elbow on a prie-dieu, an ostrich-plumed fan in one hand and a small book in the other. Lotto noted in his account book in April 1543 that ‘Messr Febbo da Bressa, in Treviso, owes him for two life-size half-length portraits of himself and of his lady, Madonna Laura da Pola.’ Lotto asked forty golden scudi for the portraits, which were finished in March 1544, and he received thirty ducats and ‘a pair of golden peacocks’. Febbo Bettignola (1503-47) and Laura Pola (1524-96) were from two of the wealthiest families in the city. The two portraits probably remained in the Palazzo Pola at Treviso until 1841, when they passed into the collection of Count Castellana of Turin; acquired by the Brera in 1860.
Portrait of an Old Man. Canvas, 90 x 75.
The sitter, dressed in black and with a long red beard, holds a pair of gloves in his left hand and a white handkerchief in his right. Stylistically, this superb portrait would seem to have been painted around the same time as the Febbo da Bressa and Laura da Pola portraits of 1543-44. The sitter is sometimes identified as Liberale da Pinedel, whose ‘di naturale’ (life-size) portrait Lotto painted in Treviso in March-June 1543 for twenty ducats. Like the portraits of Febbo da Brescia and Laura da Paola, it was formerly in the Castellana collection of Turin and was acquired by the Brera in 1860 with funds provided by King Vittorio Emanuelle II (whose beneficence is prominently recorded on the frames).
Portrait of a Gentleman. Canvas, 115 x 98.
The elderly man, bearded and dressed in black, holds the hilt of his sword in his left hand. Probably also about 1543-44. Bequeathed in 1855 with the Oggioni collection.
Pietà. Canvas, 150 x 185.
From the Dominican convent of San Paolo at Treviso, which was suppressed in 1810 and later destroyed. It was the altarpiece of a chapel to the left of the high altar. According to Lotto’s account book, it was painted between 10 February and 2 July 1545, at the end of the artist’s stay in the city, for the prioress (Julia de Medolo) and another nun (Franceschina di Bianchi de Scolari). Lotto was paid only sixteen ducats.
Milan. Castello Sforzesco.
Portrait of a Youth. Wood, 35 x 28.
The sitter, in his late teens, has cropped fair hair and wears a black cap and a tunic with black horizontal stripes. He holds a book. Berenson’s dating of about 1527 has been generally accepted. From the De Cristoforis collection.
Milan. Museo Poldi Pezzoli.
Madonna with Zechariah and the Infant Baptist. Canvas, 48 x 64.
The Christ Child, seated on his mother's knee, blesses the infant St John, who is introduced to him by St Zechariah. St Zechariah points to a scroll inscribed with his son's name ('Johannes est nomen eius'). Lotto’s account book records three pictures of this subject painted in 1546. The Poldi Pezzoli version was extensively restored in the 1850s or 1860s by the famous Milanese conservator Giuseppe Molteni. Horizontal joins are visible where strips of canvas have been sewn together. Another version (almost identical but with a green curtain in the background) was formerly in private collections in Yorkshire (Earl Fitzwilliam) and Genoa (Alessandro Basevi). It was sold at Christie's, London, in 1948 and at Sotheby's, New York, in 1987.
Saint Catherine. Wood, 33 x 27.
A freely painted variant of the picture in Washington, which is dated 1522. Often attributed to Lotto himself, but now classed by the museum as an early copy. Bequeathed in 1919 by the art historian Gustavo Frizzoni.
Mogliano (near Macerata). Parish Church.
Virgin in Glory with Four Saints. Canvas, 330 x 215.
The saints probably stand for sacraments of the Church: John the Baptist for Baptism, Anthony of Padua for Confirmation, Mary Magdalene for Extreme Unction, and Joseph (formerly identified as Peter of Mogliano) for Matrimony. Behind them is a skyline of Roman buildings (including Trajan’s Column and the dome of the Pantheon). Commissioned by the mayor of Mogliano, Giacomo Boninfante, on 16 November 1547 and installed by Lotto’s pupil, Durante Nobili di Caldarola, in July 1548. The fee was 130 scudi in gold. The frame is original. The picture, omitted from the first (1895) edition of Berenson's monograph, was discovered in 1899 by another American art historian, Charles Loeser.
Monte San Giusto (near Macerata). Santa Maria in Telusiano.
Crucifixion. Canvas, 450 x 250.
In the centre foreground, the Virgin faints into the arms of St John and one of the Maries. Another Mary kneels on the right, while the distraught Magdalen stands behind with her arms outstretched. On the left, an angel describes the scene to the kneeling donor Niccolò Bonafede, Bishop of Chiusi. The Centurion (Longinus), on a white horse, lets his lance fall as he gestures towards Christ and declares him to be the Son of God. The Roman soldier in the centre, looking towards the spectator, is probably a self-portrait. The altarpiece is signed and dated 1531. (However, the last two figures of the date have been repainted, and it has been suggested that the picture might not have been completed until 1533-34.) It was probably mostly painted in Venice and finished in situ, when the donor’s portrait was added. Described by Berenson as ‘Lotto’s most important work, being the largest in scope, the most dramatic in rendering, and of the greatest force’. The picture was restored in 1981 and the splendid original frame in 1996.
Munich. Alte Pinakothek.
Marriage of Saint Catherine. Wood, 70 x 90.
St Joseph on the right, holding a large book and looking over the Virgin’s shoulder. Signed on St Catherine’s wheel. An early work, about contemporary with the San Domenico Altarpiece of 1506-8. A picture by Lotto of this subject is mentioned by Ridolfi (1648) in the Casa Galdini at Treviso. Transferred to the gallery in 1804 from the residence of the Bishop of Würzburg. There is another version (inferior in quality and condition and without the figure of St Joseph) at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
Portrait of Bernardo de’ Rossi. Canvas, 54 x 41.
The sitter, Lotto’s first patron, was Bishop of Treviso from 1499 to 1527. An outsider from Parma, he faced local opposition to his ecclesiastical reforms, survived an attempt on his life in 1503 and was forced to flee Treviso in 1510. The Allegory at Washington – which was inscribed with the date 1 July 1505, the bishop’s name and his exact age (36 years, 10 months and 5 days) – originally formed a protective cover for the portrait. The portrait, recorded in an inventory of Rossi’s possessions in 1511, had entered the Farnese collection by 1680, when it is recorded (attributed to Lotto) in the Palazzo del Giardino at Parma. With the transfer of the Farnese collection to Naples in 1734, the identity of the sitter and name of the artist were both lost. They were rediscovered by Adolfo Venturi in 1898.
Madonna with Saint Peter Martyr. Wood, 56 x 58.
The date, 20 September 1503, is inscribed on the back. One of Lotto’s earliest surviving pictures (and the earliest that is signed and dated), painted in Treviso for Bishop Bernardo de’ Rossi. At some later date the infant Baptist was painted over the figure of the donor. First recorded at the Palazzo Farnese in Rome, with an attribution to Perugino; later (1760) ascribed to Giovanni Bellini.
New York. Metropolitan Museum.
Fra Gregorio Belo di Vicenza. Canvas, 81 x 71.
The bearded Hieronymite friar looks up from a book of homilies by Gregory the Great, and seems about to strike his breast with his clenched fist in a pose evoking St Jerome, the patron of his order. In the left background is a little scene of the Crucifixion. Payments for the portrait are recorded in Lotto’s account book from 9 December 1546 to 11 October 1547. The friar was a member of the community of Santa Maddalena at Treviso. His name, age (55) and the date (1547) are given in the inscription on the stone in the lower right corner. The portrait was acquired by Johann Matheus, Count von der Schulenberg, in Venice for 26 zecchini in 1738 as a work of Veronese. It remained with the Count’s descendants at Hehlen, in Lower Saxony, until 1965, when it was bought by the Metropolitan Museum.
Venus and Cupid. Canvas, 92 x 111.
The reclining Venus dangles from her outstretched right hand a myrtle wreath with an incense burner hanging from it, and the impish Cupid urinates through it onto the goddess’s lap. The extraordinary bawdy symbolism probably refers to the sexual act and fertility, and the picture was probably painted for a wedding. Venus, who wears the jewelled diadem and pearl earrings of a bride, might even be a portrait. Rose petals are scattered on her lap and a conch shell hangs over her head. The ivy clinging to the tree trunk probably symbolises everlasting love, while the snake hissing in the lower right corner might allude to the danger of jealousy. Lotto’s signature was discovered on the tree trunk in 1984, when the picture was cleaned and drapery covering Venus’s lap and right thigh was removed. There is no certain record of the picture before 1918, when an engraving of it appeared in Salomon Reinach’s Répertoire de Peintures du Moyen Age et de la Renaissance. It was in a private collection in Switzerland until 1986, when it was acquired by the museum. It has sometimes been identified with a painting of Venus commissioned in September 1540 for the wedding of one of the children of Lotto’s nephew Mario Armano. However, some writers (eg. Keith Christiansen in Apollo (1986)) have dated it much earlier (mid-1520s).
Nivå (Denmark). Nivaagaards Museum.
Portrait of a Gentleman. Wood, 79 x 62.
The unknown sitter (perhaps a prosperous merchant or banker) is shown full-face against a heavy green curtain, wearing a large black hat, a fur-lined coat, and a striped jacket over a pale blue tunic. He holds a rosary of amber beads. The portrait probably dates from Lotto's early years in Bergamo (1515-20). It is unrecorded before the late nineteeth century, when it was in the Casa Coccapani at Modena. It was attributed to Lotto in 1891 by Giovanni Morelli (The Galleries of Munich and Dresden), but later appeared at Sedelmayer's Gallery in Paris as a work of Hans Holbein. Acquired in 1904 by the Danish businessman Johannes Hage, who opened his mansion as the Nivaagaards Museum in 1908.
Ottawa. National Gallery of Canada.
Virgin and Child with Saints Roch and Sebastian. Wood, 82 x 118.
Signed in the shadow under the Virgin's right foot. This brilliantly coloured picture is thought to have been painted by Lotto around 1521-24 for his friend Battista Cucchi of Bergamo. Cucchi was a surgeon, which could explain the presence of two saints associated with disease. He bequeathed the picture to a nun, Suor Lucrezia de Tirabuschis, who left it to her convent of Santa Grata at Bergamo, where it is recorded by Ridolfi (1648). It was exhibited just once a year to the lay congregation. When the convent was closed in 1798, the picture was acquired by an Abate Giovanni Ghidini (or Ghedini) 'per pocco pezzo' . Later in the Piccinelli collection at Seriate (near Bergamo). Sold for 180,000 lire in 1930 to the Florentine art dealer Alessandro Contini Bonacossi. It remained with his heirs until 1975, when it was acquired by the Ottawa museum.
Portrait of a Man. Paper (mounted on board and later canvas), 58 x 47.
The man, simply dressed and holding a felt hat, was probably of the artisan class – perhaps a craftsman or steward. The portrait is a rare survival of a picture painted in oil on paper. It is very possibly one of eight ‘drawings of heads, coloured in oil, on paper from nature’ noted in Lotto’s account book in an entry dated 4 March 1541. The eight portraits were among paintings given by Lotto to a ‘Ottavio da Macerata’ in settlement of a debt. The Ottawa portrait is a recent discovery. Formerly in a private collection in South America, it came to notice when it was included in the 1997-98 Lotto retrospective at Washington, Bergamo and Paris. Acquired by the gallery in 1998 from Piero Corsini of New York.
Oxford. Christ Church.
Supper at Emmaus. Canvas, 74 x 98.
Identified by Berenson as the picture of this subject painted in April 1546 for the chemist Alessandro Cattaneo. Cattaneo may be portrayed as the innkeeper on the right. Rather damaged (especially the figure of Christ and the white tablecloth). One of many Italian pictures bequeathed to the college in 1765 by General John Guise.
Adoration of the Child. Canvas, 150 x 237.
St Elizabeth hands a little cross to the Child; Joseph on the left, Zachariah on the right. Traditionally ascribed to Dosso Dossi, the picture was recognised as a Lotto by Villot in 1849. It was probably painted in the mid or late 1530s; but it appears to have remained unsold, since it was one of five pictures left with Jacopo Sansovino to be sold after Lotto’s final departure from Venice and was later included in an auction of his pictures in Ancona in August 1550. There is a late replica at Loreto. Acquired by Louis XIV of France in 1662 with the famous collection of Everhard Jabach.
Christ and the Adulteress. Canvas, 124 x 156.
The subject, popular in Venice at this time, is from John's Gospel (8, 1-11). The woman guilty of adultery hangs her head, as Christ addresses the ugly mob of Pharisees and onlookers calling for her to be stoned. The picture is the original, dating from about 1530, of a composition from which several copies were made, including a late replica by Lotto himself at Loreto. It must have reached France as early as 1581, since it was engraved by Duval who died that year. Sold by an art dealer called De La Feuille to Louis XIV in 1671.
Saint Jerome. Wood, 48 x 40.
The penitent St Jerome is seated on a ledge of rock, holding a crucifix in one hand and a stone in the other. The books around him allude to his translation of the Bible. His lion and a second hermit (St Anthony Abbot?) are just visible behind a rock, close to the left edge. Probably the earliest of the many versions of this subject by Lotto. Signed on the dark rock in the right foreground; the damaged date, once read as 1500, could be 1506 or conceivably 1508. Possibly the 'Sancto Hieronimo' mentioned in two inventories of Bernardo de’ Rossi’s possessions drawn up in 1510 and 1511. Berenson suggested that the panel might have served as a cover for a portrait of a scholar who had taken Jerome as his patron saint. From 1814 to 1841, the picture was in Cardinal Fesch’s collection in Rome; acquired by the Louvre at the Moret sale in 1857. The vertical rock formations are like those in Dürer’s Saint Jerome engraving of around 1496.
Christ carrying the Cross. Canvas, 66 x 60.
A vigorous composition, which crams the action into a small space. Just the head and clenched fist of a soldier appear at the right edge, while the hands of another tormentor, pulling Christ's hair and holding a rod, are seen towards the top. Devotional paintings of Christ carrying the Cross were frequently produced by Venetian and North Italian artists, but this is the only known example by Lotto. Signed and dated 1526 (upside down), lower right, on the cross. Acquired in 1982 from the nunnery of Saint Charles Borromeo at Puy-en-Velay. Possibly the ‘piteous Redeemer with the cross on His shoulder’ seen by Ridolfi (1648) in the collection of ‘Mr Jacopo Pighetti, a gentleman from Bergamo’, and almost certainly the ‘Christ carrying the cross, with half-length figures, by Lorenzo Lotto’ recorded in 1664 in the collection of Lelio Orsini in Rome.
Philadelphia. Museum of Art. (J. G. Johnson Collection).
The Surgeon Gian Giacomo Stuer and His Son. Canvas, 87 x 75.
Stuer holds surgical instruments in his right hand and has his left arm affectionately around the shoulder of his little son Zan Antonio. The portrait is noted in Lotto’s account book in March 1544. Acquired by Johnson (on Berenson’s recommendation) in 1908 from the Sully collection.
Poljud (Split). Franciscan Monastery.
Bishop Tommaso Negri. Wood, 42 x 54.
Bishop Negri of Traù (Trogis), Dalmatia, was a writer, theologian and leading religious reformer. Lotto’s portrait, which is signed and dated 1527, was probably painted when the bishop was visiting Venice. It is still in the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie alle Paludi, where Negri retired in 1525.
Ponteranica (Bergamo). Church (Santi Vincenzo e Alessandro).
The polyptych consists of six panels; the original frame is lost. The arched centre panel in the lower tier (135 x 70) shows St John the Baptist carrying the lamb. At the sides are full-length panels (each 118 x 57) of St Peter and St Paul. The arched centre panel in the upper tier (135 x 70) shows Christ the Redeemer, with blood spurting from the wounds in his hands and side into a chalice at his feet. At the sides, rectangular panels (each 75 x 55) represent the Annunciation – a lovely Angel Gabriel on the left and the Virgin kneeling at her prie-dieu on the right. Commissioned by the Scuola del Corpo di Cristo for their chapel to the right of the high altar. Signed and dated 152? on the rock on which the Baptist stands. The frame was completed by September 1521, when a craftsman (Pietro de Maffeis da Zogna) was commissioned to gild it. The polyptych form, rather rare by this time, was presumably the preference of the provincial patron. The Passion scenes in the predella are by another hand (Berenson ascribed them to Cariani). Restored in 2009-10.
Raleigh (North Carolina). Museum of Art.
Dead Christ supported by Angels; Martyrdom of St Alexander. Wood, 17 in dia.
These two small roundels are thought to have belonged to the original frame of the altarpiece painted in 1513-16 for the church of Santo Stefano in Bergamo and now in San Bartolomeo. Acquired by Samuel H. Kress in 1950.
Recanati. Pinacoteca Comunale.
San Domenico Altarpiece. Canvas, 450 x 350.
The altarpiece was painted when Lotto ‘was still young, and imitating partly the style of Bellini and partly that of Giorgione’ (Vasari). It was commissioned on 20 July 1506 by the Dominican friars of Recanati, and is signed and dated 1508. The central panel (227 x 108) shows the Madonna and Child enthroned, beneath a coffered vault, between the papal saints Gregory the Great and Urban I. An angel takes the habit from the Virgin and hands it to the kneeling St Dominic, watched by two musical angels sitting on the step of the throne. The two lower side panels (each 155 x 67) pair Dominican saints with patron saints of Recanati: St Thomas Aquinas and St Flavianus are on the left and St Peter Martyr and St Vitus on the right. In the upper side panels (each 67 x 67) are half-lengths of St Lucy and St Vincent Ferrer (left) and St Catherine of Siena and St Sigismund of Burgundy (right). The upper middle panel (80 x 108) contains a Pietà (with Mary Magdalene kissing the wound on Christ’s hand and Nicodemus or Joseph of Arithmathea standing behind). The polyptych was broken up by 1861 and the original frame destroyed. The predella, described by Vasari and Ridolfi, had three scenes. Only one – showing a Dominican Saint Preaching and now at Vienna – survives. The others represented the Transportation of the Holy House to Loreto and Pope Honorius approving the Dominican Rule. The polyptych was restored for the 2011 Lotto exhibition at the Quirinale, Rome.
Transfiguration. Canvas, 300 x 203.
Christ, his face ‘shining as the sun’ and his garments ‘white as light’, appears on the top of Mount Tabor between Moses and Elijah. The dazzled apostles Peter, John and James fall to the ground with fear. From Santa Maria di Castelnuovo at Recanati. Transferred to the Pinacoteca in 1890. The predella, described by Vasari, has been separated; one panel is lost, but the others are in St Petersburg and Milan. A comparatively early work; the Entombment of 1512 at Jesi has similar facial types and rather squat figures.
Annunciation. Canvas, 166 x 114.
In a highly unusual representation of the subject, the angel approaches from behind rather than from the side, and the Virgin turns in panic towards the spectator. A cat, a symbol of evil, jumps away. God the Father, on a cloud at the top of the open doorway, is presumably releasing the Holy Spirit, though no dove is seen. From the Oratory of the Confraternity of Santa Maria sopra Mercanti at Recanati, where it was first recorded in 1601. Transferred to the Pinacoteca in 1953. A mature work (dated 1527-28 by Berenson and around 1534-35 by Humfrey).
Saint James the Great. Wood, 20 x 15.
He holds a Bible and walking staff; his pilgrim's hat with scallop shell badge and his leather pouch (scrip) lie at his feet. This small panel is an early work (around 1512). From the Oratorio di San Giacomo at Recanati. Transferred to the Pinacoteca in 1953 from Santa Maria sopra Mercanti.
Recanati. San Domenico.
Saint Vincent Ferrer in Glory. Detached fresco, 269 x 166.
The Spanish preacher shows a text from the Apocalypse: ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of judgement is come’. A fragment, possibly, of a more extensive fresco scheme. Probably painted in about 1512, shortly after Lotto visited Rome and when he was under the influence of Raphael’s frescoes in the Stanza della Segnatura.
Rome. Galleria Nazionale.
Madonna and Saints. Canvas, 98 x 114.
Described thus by Lotto is his Libro di Spese: ‘in the centre the Madonna and Child with the Child in her arms … on the right St Jerome, St George, St Sebastian; on the left St Catherine, St Anthony, St Nicholas of Bari’. Signed and dated 1524. Painted in Bergamo for the chamber of ‘Messr Marsilio’ (Marsilio Cassotti), who is represented with his bride in the portrait of 1523 by Lotto in the Prado. The price of 53 ducats was later reduced to 36. From the Quirinal Palace, where it was rediscovered in 1920 in a room above the stables.
Rome. Galleria Borghese.
‘Sacra Conversazione’. Canvas, 67 x 73.
An early work, signed and dated 1508; it must have been painted either in the Marches (where Lotto moved from Treviso in October 1506) or in Rome (where he arrived around the summer of 1508). The Madonna and Child are flanked on the left by a bishop (variously identified as Louis, Flavianus and Ignatius Theophorus), who offers the open heart of Christ, and on the right by St Onofrius. The head of the hermit saint seems to derive from one of the scribes in Dürer’s Christ among the Doctors (now in the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection in Madrid), which was painted in Venice in 1506.
Portrait of a Man. Canvas, 118 x 105.
The sitter is a large, serious, bearded man, dressed in black. His right hand rests on a small skull among rose petals, symbolising the ephemeral nature of life. Through a window on the left, St George is shown slaying the dragon. Formerly identified as the ‘painting on canvas portraying Lorenzo Lotto and painted by himself’ in the 1682 inventory of the collection of Olimpia Aldobrandini. The sitter has more recently been identified as Mercurio Bua, an Albanian condottiere in the service of Venice. Usually dated about 1530-35. Recorded in the Borghese collection since 1790.
Rome. Galleria Capitoline.
Man holding a Crossbow. Canvas, 93 x 71.
Previously ascribed to Giorgione, the picture was recognised as a Lotto by Morelli in 1892. It has been identified as the ‘portrait of Messr Battista, crossbowman of Rocha Contrada (Arcevia)’ noted in Lotto’s account book in November 1551. Lotto was living in Ancona at this time.
Rome. Galleria Doria-Pamphili.
Saint Jerome. Canvas, 51 x 43.
The saint bends forward over a crucifix on the ground, his arms outstretched in an attitude of passionate prayer. A late work, and possibly the ‘Saint Jerome the Hermit in Penitence’ commissioned in April 1544 by Niccolò da Mula, along with a pendant of ‘Saint John the Baptist in the Desert’. The two pictures were delivered to Venice in July 1545, but Mula refused to pay the 25 ducat price, and the Saint Jerome was sold to a Giovanni Battista Erizzo for 14½ ducats. There is another, larger version in the Prado.
Portrait of a Man. Canvas, 100 x 90.
The man, bearded and dressed in black, looks sickly. He points to himself with one hand, and holds the other to his breast. His age (37) is written on the stone wall behind. The significance of the putto on the left, supporting himself on a pair of scales, is unclear. The portrait probably dates from the late 1530s or early 1540s.
Rome. Museo di Castel Sant’Angelo.
Saint Jerome. Wood, 81 x 61.
Probably painted in about 1509-10, when Lotto is known to have been in Rome working in the Vatican Stanze. The saint’s reclining pose resembles a Roman statue of a river god. Donated by Mario Menotti in 1916.
Rome. Galleria Pallavicini.
Triumph of Chastity. Canvas, 76 x 118.
Venus, floating through the air, carries a casket of beauty aids on her shoulder. With her right arm she shields the little Cupid from the blows of Chastity, represented by a fully clothed woman with an ermine on her breast. The pose of the Venus is similar to that of a Nereid on a Roman sarcophagus in the Vatican Museum. About 1530 according to Berenson.
Rome. Vatican. Stanza della Segnatura.
Tribonian presenting the Pandects to Justianian. Fresco.
Lotto is documented as having painted murals in the papal apartments, receiving a payment of 100 ducats in early March 1509; but until recently no work by him had been identified there. The execution of the fresco of the Presentation of the Pandects was formerly usually ascribed to an unknown assistant of Raphael. It was attributed to Lotto, after cleaning, by Arnold Nesselrath in the January 2000 issue of the Burlington Magazine. The new attribution has been disputed (eg. by Michel Hochmann in Venise et Rome 1500-1600, 2004). The fresco must have been painted in 1511. Raphael was probably responsible for the composition (there is a preparatory pen and ink study by him for the fresco in Frankfurt).
St Petersburg. Hermitage.
Married Couple. Canvas, 98 x 118.
The man holds a scroll inscribed Homo Nunquam (‘Man Never’) in his left hand and points to a squirrel with his right. This may symbolise that he would never behave like a squirrel and abandon his partner (or let himself fall asleep). This famous picture was probably painted in Bergamo around the same time as the Messr Marsilio and His Bride in the Prado, which is dated 1523. Recorded by Ridolfi (1648) in the house of Jan and Jakob van Boeren in Antwerp. In the Russian Imperial collection by 1783 and hung in the Castle of Gatchina, near St Petersburg. Sold in Berlin by the Soviets in 1929 but subsequently bought back. The couple have been tentatively identified (on the evidence of the emblem on the woman’s headdress) as Giovanni Maria Cassotti (the older brother of Marsilio Cassotti, whose marriage portrait by Lotto is in the Prado) and his wife Laura Assonica (who probably died around 1525).
Christ Leading His Apostles to Mount Tabor. Canvas, 29 x 59.
From the predella of the altarpiece painted in about 1510-12 for Santa Maria di Castelnuova at Recanati. The main panel (the Transfiguration) is in the Pinacoteca at Recanati. Another panel from the predella (the Ascension) is in the Brera. A third panel mentioned by Vasari (the Agony in the Garden) is lost. The Hermitage panel was acquired in 1838 from Manuel Godoy of Paris. It was ascribed to Perugino until 1911, when Gustavo Frizzoni connected it with Lotto’s predella.
Holy Family with Saint Giustina. Canvas, 83 x 104.
St Joseph lifts the cloth from the sleeping Child to show him to the kneeling St Giustina. A variant of Lotto’s painting, dated 1533, at Bergamo, where the kneeling saint is Catherine. Previously dismissed as a copy, but revealed as autograph by recent cleaning. Recorded at the Hermitage since 1773.
‘Madonna delle Grazie’. Wood, 40 x 33.
This little panel, previously in storage as the work of an unknown artist, was attributed to Lotto after a recent restoration. It has been identified with a painting mentioned in Lotto’s Libro di Spese: an entry for January 1542 refers to the ‘Madonna and the three angels, which Messere Mario desired to see finished by the time Lucretia went into a nunnery’, and entries later that year refer to the preparation of dowel for Lucretia’s painting (10 March) and to the purchase of a wooden frame and metal case for the painting (July 1542). The three angels, making gestures of astonishment and worship, were overpainted with a curtain at some later date and uncovered during the restoration. The rediscovered panel was featured in a special exhibition at the Hermitage from December 2007 to February 2008 and included in the exhibition Omaggio a Lorenzo Lotto at the Accademia, Venice, in 2011-12. Another, much larger version was formerly in the church of the Minori Osservanti at Osimo. It was stolen from the Palazzo Comunale in 1911 and never recovered.
Sedrina (near Bergamo). San Giacomo.
Madonna and Saints. Canvas, 310 x 210.
The Madonna and Child above in a glory of cherubs’ heads; Saints John the Baptist, Francis, Jerome and Joseph below. Painted for three wine merchants from Sedrina as the altarpiece of the chapel of the Confraternita di Santa Maria (to the right of the high altar). We know from Lotto’s account book that the picture was started on 28 December 1541 and finished on 5 August 1542, and that Lotto was paid fifty scudi (plus all expenses). Signed and dated 1542, bottom left. The picture appears to have been executed in some haste.
Sibiu (Hermannstadt). Brukenthal Museum.
St Jerome in Penitence. Wood, 56 x 42.
The saint is almost prostrate on the ground, meditating fervently on the crucifix in his left hand and holding a stone in his right. In the foreground, a bird skeleton and grasshopper (which appears to be perched on the frame). Signed on the rock, lower right. The picture has been given some widely differing datings, but is probably comparatively early. By 1800, it was in the collection of Baron Samuel von Brukenthal. Brukenthal’s collection was transferred in 1948 to the National Gallery of Romania at Bucharest, but has now been returned to his Baroque palace at Sibiu.
Nativity. Wood, 56 x 46.
A night scene, in which the light emitted by the Christ Child illuminates the Virgin and mid-wife, who wash him in a copper basin, and St Joseph standing in the background. From the Spannocchi collection, which was given to the City of Siena in about 1834. The picture is said to have once borne the date 1521. It was originally horizontal and has been cut down at the sides. Long regarded as a seventeenth-century Flemish copy. In 1953 a signature (‘Lotus’) was discovered on the jug on the right. Lotto’s account book mentions three such night scenes (‘natività finte di notte’).
Trescore (16 km from Bergamo). Oratorio Suardi.
The oratory was built in 1502 by the Bergamesque nobleman Battista Suardi as a family chapel in the grounds of his suburban villa. The altar wall was painted by an unknown local artist. The other three walls and the ceiling were decorated in 1524 by Lorenzo Lotto. The paintings are the earliest and most extensive of Lotto’s three surviving fresco cycles.
The fresco on the left wall illustrates the Story of St Barbara as told in the Golden Legend. The scenes, set in a contemporary Italian town and the surrounding countryside, run continuously along the length of the wall. From left to right: St Barbara’s pagan father Dioscorus shuts her up in a tower; she flees after refusing to worship idols and is chased by her father brandishing a sword; she is handed over to a judge, stripped, hung by her feet and beaten with hammers; Christ appears to her in prison; she is brought again before the judge, hung by her arms and burnt with torches; an angel brings a robe to conceal her nakedness and her wounds; she is dragged to her execution; she is beheaded; and her wicked father is struck dead by lightning. In the centre of the wall, a colossal figure of Christ extends his arms. From his fingers extend the tendrils of a grape vine, which curl along the top of the wall into circular frames enclosing half-length figures of saints. At the extreme left and right of the wall, heretics attempting to cut the vine are thrown from ladders. Above Christ’s head is an abraded inscription giving the names of the artist and donors and the date 1524. At Christ’s feet are bust-length portraits of Battista Suardi, his wife Ursolina and his sister Paolina.
The right wall is painted with scenes from the Life of St Bridget of Ireland (not St Clare, as was formerly supposed). On the left, she takes her nuns’ vows and the wooden step of the altar begins miraculously to blossom. The miracle is witnessed by members of the Suardi family – men on the left and women on the right. In the central scene, she gives beer (miraculously transformed from her bath-water) to visitors and gives raw meat (which has miraculously failed to soil her apron) to two poor men. In the background, she saves a flock of sheep from a wild boar and (over the doorway) averts a storm threatening the harvest. The figure of the bird-catcher with an owl has been supposed to be a self-portrait. The more damaged fresco on the right shows St Bridget punishing a greedy woman by causing a tree in her garden to wither, dividing a silver vase between three lepers and saving a man from a violent end. Along the top of the wall are ten roundels containing animated half-figures of prophets and sibyls.
The frescoes on the end wall opposite the altar are very damaged. They show the Beheading of St Catherine of Alexandria and Ecstasy of Mary Magdalene. The ceiling, between the exposed rafters, is decorated as a grape arbour with harvesting putti.
Treviso. Pinacoteca Civica.
Portrait of a Monk. Canvas, 78 x 68.
The monk, who stands writing at his desk, is probably a Dominican from the convent of Santi Giovanni e Paolo at Venice, where Lotto was staying in 1526 when the portrait was painted. Signed and dated. It entered the Pinacoteca in 1841 with the Sernagiotto collection.
Treviso (near). Santa Cristina a Quinto.
In the main panel (177 x 162) the Virgin and Child are enthroned between four saints. The Child blesses the church’s titular saint, Christina of Bolsena, who holds a millstone and martyr’s palm. St Peter stands next to her reading an open book. On the other side, Liberale, the patron saint of Treviso, is represented in gleaming black armour holding a model of the town. Beside him, St Jerome holds up a copy of his Vulgate Bible. A goldfinch perches on the Virgin’s left hand. In the lunette (90 x 162) the dead Christ is supported on the edge of the sepulchre by two angels. This very early work – Lotto’s first altarpiece – recalls Giovanni Bellini’s famous altarpiece of 1505 at San Zaccaria, Venice. It was commissioned by the parish priest Pre Franchino, probably on the recommendation of Bishop Rossi who contributed towards the payments to Lotto. Documents, first published in 1963, show that it was completed by 14 May 1506. The frame was ordered in 1507. Restored for the 2011 Lotto exhibition at the Quirinale, Rome.
Upton House (Warwickshire).
Portrait of a Dominican Monk. Wood, 33 x 25.
An early portrait of about 1506-8. Formerly in the Pininsky collection at Lemberg, the Auspitz collection at Vienna and the collection of Lord Bearsted, who presented Upton House and its pictures to the National Trust in 1948. Berenson thought that the same youthful monk was portrayed as St Louis of Toulouse in Lotto’s altarpiece of 1506 at Asolo.
Urbino. Galleria Nazionale delle Marche.
Saint Roch. Canvas, 80 x 35.
The saint, dressed as a pilgrim, points to the plague ulcer on his thigh. The figure is virtually identical to that in Lotto's large panel of Saints Christopher, Roch and Sebastian at Loreto. The Saint Roch was 'published' only in 2007 (by Peter Humfrey in Artibus et Historiae). It originally formed one half of a diptych; the other half (a Saint Sebastian) is still in private hands. We know from an entry in Lotto's account book (Libro di Spese) that the diptych was commissioned in 1549 by 'Piera Moneca and other ladies of Ancona' for the church of Santa Maria di Posatora. Formerly in a German private collection, the Saint Roch was bought by the Italian state for €700,000 in 2008 from a Florentine dealer.
Portrait of a Young Man. Canvas, 98 x 111.
The thin, pale, young sitter looks up from a book (mercantile ledger?). The meaning of the objects on his table (the folded letter, rose petals, gold jewellery, blue shawl and lizard) has yet to be conclusively deciphered, but they may allude to disappointment in love. Objects on the wall (horn, lute and dead bird) may allude to music and hunting. (The dead bird and the lute disappeared when the picture was cleaned in 1997.) The portrait, which is neither signed nor dated, was probably painted in about 1525-30. Discovered in the 1920s in the collection of Conte Eduardo Rovero of Treviso; acquired by the Accademia in 1930. The melancholy sitter has been tentatively identified recently as Eduardo Rovero’s ancestor, Alvise Rovero.
Nativity with Donor (Domenico Tassi). Canvas, 132 x 104.
A night scene. Divine light emanating from the Child illuminates the Virgin and adoring angels. Joseph explains the sacred event to the donor, Domenico Tassi, kneeling in the bottom left corner. This very damaged painting was acquired by the Italian state in 1908 from a Milanese collector. It is believed to be either the original (ruined and repainted) or a copy of the pendant to Lotto's Christ taking leave of His Mother (now at Berlin). The latter painting, signed and dated 1521, includes a donor portrait of Domenico Tassi's wife, Elisabetta Rota. The Nativity, normally in storage, was briefly shown in the small exhibition Omaggio a Lorenzo Lotto, held at the Accademia in November 2011-February 2012.
Venice. Museo Correr.
Madonna crowned by Two Angels. Wood, 52 x 38.
Ascribed to an imitator of Lotto by Berenson in his 1895 monograph, but pronounced ‘certainly autograph’ by Longhi in 1928. In the edition of 1955, Berenson accepted the Madonna and Child as Lotto’s but thought that the angels and landscape might be by an assistant. Views on dating range from the mid-1520s to the early 1540s. From the Giustiniani collection.
God the Father. Wood, 23 x 48.
This small oblong panel shows just the head and shoulders and raised hands of God the Father, who gazes down from heaven. Presumably a fragment from the top of an altarpiece. It was part of Teodoro Correr's original bequest to the City of Venice in 1830. Long forgotten, it was rediscovered in the museum storerooms and published as a work of Lorenzo Lotto in the 2010 Bollettino dei Musei Civici Veneziani.
Venice. Fondazione Cini.
Portrait of a Gentleman of the Avogadro Family. Canvas, 67 x 52.
This fine half-length portrait of a gentleman wearing a gold chain is possibly the picture noted in Lotto's Book of Accounts in October 1542: 'A Fieravante Avogadro in Treviso, il suo ritratto a mezza figura'. Sold by Count Avogadro of Treviso in 1927 and acquired by Vittorio Cini in 1941 from the dealer Alessandro Contini Bonacossi. Vittorio Cini died in 1977. His collection of Venetian pictures was exhibited for the first time at the Palazzo Cini (his former residence in Dorsoduro) in 2016.
Venice. San Giacomo dell’Orio.
Madonna and Saints. Canvas, 241 x 170.
The Virgin, crowned by angels, is enthroned between Saints James and Andrew, Cosmas and Damian. We know from Lotto’s account book that the picture was begun on 26 August 1546 and finished on 15 November of the same year for the very low price of twenty ducats. Berenson describes it as ‘a hasty and slightly varied replica’ of the Madonna and Saints at Ancona.
Venice. SS. Giovanni e Paolo. South Transept.
Saint Antoninus giving Alms. Canvas, 332 x 235.
The scene is revealed by two putti drawing aside red curtains. Two angels, interceding for the poor below, whisper into the ears of the enthroned Antoninus (a newly-canonised fifteenth-century Dominican Archbishop of Florence). Beneath the saint, two deacons distribute dowries from a gallery hung with a Turkish carpet. Lotto seems to have started the picture in 1526 but quickly abandoned it because of a disagreement with a Dominican friar. We know from Lotto’s account book that it was finished on 28 March 1542. He reduced the price from 125 to 90 ducats on condition that he could be buried by the Dominican friars of Santi Giovanni e Paolo in a habit of their order.
Venice. Santa Maria del Carmine.
Glory of Saint Nicholas. Canvas, 335 x 188.
The saint floats in the clouds with St Lucy and St John the Baptist; angels carry his golden balls, mitre and crosier. Below is a beautiful panoramic landscape (praised by Vasari), with St George slaying the dragon and the princess fleeing to the castle. The painting is still in its original position in the left aisle, and still in its original stone frame, which gives the date of the commission (1527) and the names of two members of the Scuola dei Mercanti (Giovanni Battista Donati and Giorgio de’ Mundis) who commissioned it. Ridolfi (1648) read on the painting the date 1529 which is now defaced.
Vienna. Kunsthistorisches Museum.
‘Sacra Conversazione’. Canvas, 114 x 152.
The Virgin, seated on the ground, is crowned by an angel; St Catherine (or possibly a donor represented as the saint) and St James the Great kneel on her right. Usually dated about 1528-30. Described by Marco Boschini as ‘a true ray of splendour’ in 1660, when it was already in the Hapsburg collection.
Triple Portrait. Canvas, 52 x 79.
The picture was in the collection of Charles I, where it may have inspired the famous triple portrait by Van Dyck (which was sent to Bernini in Rome as a model for sculpting the king’s bust). It was then ascribed to Titian – an attribution revived in the late nineteenth century. It was later believed to be a self-portrait of Lotto. (The jeweller’s casket, Giuoco del Lotto, held by the sitter was believed to be a play on the artist’s name.) More recently, the portrait has been identified either as three views of Bartolomeo Carpan, a jeweller and friend of Lotto, or (perhaps less convincingly) a portrait of Bartolomeo Carpan and his two brothers Antonio and Vettore. After Charles I’s execution, the portrait was allotted to one of his creditors (David Murray, a tailor), who sold it to the Spanish ambassador; by 1733 it had found its way into the Austrian Imperial collection. A signed portrait drawing by Lotto in the National Gallery of Scotland may represent the same man.
Portrait of a Man with a Golden Claw. Canvas, 97 x 71.
The young bearded man, elegantly dressed and posed in front of a deep red curtain, leans against a table, placing his right hand on his heart and holding out a small gold lion’s claw in his left hand. His pose recalls that of Andrea Odoni in Lotto’s famous portrait of 1527 at Hampton Court. From the collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm. In inventories from 1659 until 1859, it was attributed to Correggio. The sitter was long supposed to be the great Bolognese naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi (which is impossible as Aldrovandi was not born until 1522). It has been suggested that he could be the sculptor and medallist Leone Leoni – the lion’s claw alluding both to his name and to his profession.
Portrait of a Young Man. Wood, 42 x 36.
The youth wears a black beret and tunic; in the top right-hand corner is a small burning lamp. Once attributed, like a number of Lotto’s early portraits, to Holbein and later Jacopo de’ Barbari. Recorded in the Imperial Gallery since 1816.
Christ in Glory. Wood, 49 x 33.
Identified by Frizzoni (1911) as the ‘triumph of Jesus the Saviour in the act of the sacrament scattering His blood through the air with many little angels’ recorded in Lotto’s account book in May 1543. The woman with the mirror at the bottom of the picture presumably symbolises vain mankind. The picture was intended for Federico Priuli, but no agreement was reached over the price, and in July 1544 Lotto gave it to Messer Alovise di Verzi. Recorded in Archduke Leopold Wilhelm’s collection as a work of Correggio. The composition is very like that of the relief conceived by Jacopo Sansovino for the altar of the Santissimo Sacramento in St Mark’s. (There are other versions of Sanosvino’s relief in the Bargello Museum, Florence, and the Bode Museum, Berlin.) It is unclear whether the original design should be attributed to Lotto or to Sansovino.
Dominican Saint Preaching. Wood, 25 x 61.
A Dominican saint (called Dominic himself by Vasari but possibly Peter Martyr) preaches in a piazza from a high wooden pulpit, while a fire blazes below. A panel from the predella of the polyptych painted in 1506-8 for the church of San Domenico at Recanati and now in the museum there. The two other panels from the predella are untraced. Bequeathed to the museum in 1932 by Gustav von Benda.
Washington. National Gallery of Art.
‘Allegory of Virtue and Vice’. Wood, 56 x 43.
The allegory is believed to represent the struggle between Virtue on the left (as represented by the sunny pastures, calm sea, tree sprouting with fresh growth, and putto busy with instruments in the foreground and climbing a hill towards a radiant sky in the background) and Vice on the right (as represented by the cloudy sky, shipwreck and drunken satyr peering into a wine pitcher). An inscription once on the back (removed when the panel was planed down in an old restoration) gave the name of Bernardo de’ Rossi, Bishop of Treviso, Lotto’s name, and the date 1 July 1505. A shield with the arms of the Rossi family – a white lion rampant – rests against the tree. The picture originally formed a sliding protective cover to Lotto’s portrait of the bishop at Naples; very few such covers have survived. At the beginning of the nineteenth century it belonged to Antonio Bertioli, a lawyer at Parma. It was later owned by the painter Giacomo Gritti of Bergamo. Acquired by Samuel H. Kress in 1935. Old varnish and repaint were removed in 1995.
‘Allegory of Chastity’. (‘A Maiden’s Dream’). Wood, 43 x 39.
This little allegorical picture is believed to be one of Lotto’s earliest surviving works. The subject is obscure. Cupid showers white flower petals on a maiden reclining against a green bank; on the left a female satyr peers round a tree and on the right a male satyr pours wine into his mouth from a jar. The common title, A Maiden’s Dream, was proposed by a former owner – the British art historian, mountaineer and politician Sir William Martin Conway, of Allington Castle, near Maidstone. The subject has also been described as Danaë, Sacred and Profane Love, Plutus and the Nymph Rhodos, and an Allegory of Chastity. Like the Allegory of Virtue and Vice, also in the Washington Gallery, the panel is likely originally to have served as the cover of a portrait – possibly that of a woman (tentatively identified as Bishop Rossi’s sister Giovanna) at Dijon. First recorded at Milan (Castelbarco collection). Sir William Conway acquired it in 1887 as a work of the early seventeenth-century Bavarian painter Hans Rottenhammer. Bought by Kress (through Contini Bonacossi) in 1934. X-rays have revealed an earlier composition (with the panel flipped) of a youth asleep (possibly representing Hercules at the Crossroads).
Saint Catherine. Wood, 57 x 50.
X-rays have revealed that there was originally a window with a landscape on the left. Signed and dated 1522 on the spiked wheel, which is largely hidden by the green velvet cloak. Ridolfi (1648) mentions a ‘Catherine tied to the wheel, half-figure’ in the house of Cavalier Gussoni in Venice. From 1852 to 1929 the Washington picture was in the Leuchtenberg collection at Munich and St Petersburg. Acquired by Kress in 1933. There is another version (probably an early copy) in the Poldi Pezzoli Museum, Milan.
Nativity. Wood, 46 x 36.
Signed and dated 1523 on the wooden object, lower right, which has been variously identified as a woodworker’s plane and a mousetrap, but may simply represent two pieces of wood to be joined together (a reference to Joseph’s trade as a carpenter). Formerly in the collection of Conti Morlani at Bergamo. Acquired by Kress (through Contini Bonacossi) in 1937.
Wilton House (Salisbury).
Saint Anthony Abbot. Wood, 34 x 51.
The head of the bearded saint looks like a portrait. Once ascribed to Moretto, it was attributed to Lotto by Berenson in 1901. Usually dated around the mid-1530s.