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LORENZO LOTTO
The style and work

Undeservedly fallen into oblivion for centuries, the artist regained his importance thanks to the exhibitions dedicated to him in Venice (1953), Ancona (1981), Washington (1997), Bergamo and Paris (1998), Rome (2011), Madrid, London and Macerata (2018/2019).

 Lorenzo Lotto, (Venice 1480 ca. – Loreto 1556/1557), was known for the complexity of his work and his unparalleled stylistic signature, which consecrated him as one of the most important and revolutionary artists in the history of Western art.

From the start of his career in the works of Treviso, linked to the commission of the humanist bishop Bernardo de’ Rossi, he grafted onto the Venetian classicism and chromatics of Giovanni Bellini. His personal style focuses on the color quality, the attention to the optical and material data, influenced by the Nordic art of A. Durer, the complex symbolism and lucid iconography of the details, the obsessive attention to detail, the fully Renaissance breath of his works, so different from the Olympic strength of a Titian or the classicism of Raphael.

Of Catholic faith but surrounded by friends linked to Lutheranism, Lorenzo Lotto, unlike other artists of the same period, embraces a conception of art understood as a moment of supreme and open reflection on the religious principles and subjects that it represents and at the same time as moment of confrontation with the humanized sphere of the sacred. Called “pictor celeberrimus”, since 1505, after having delivered the Polyptych of San Domenico di Recanati (1506-1508), in 1509 the artist is active in Rome where he decorated the Vatican Rooms for Pope Julius II.

The Pope made them destroy and replace them with those of Raphael. As documented by the subsequent Deposition(1512, Pinacoteca di Jesi) and Transfiguration (circa 1510-1512, Recanati, Villa Colloredo Mels), which recall Raphael, the Roman environment significantly marked the artist’s stylistic path. His most intense and happiest season took place in Bergamo,between 1513 and 1525. It is in this city, in contact with the Lombard naturalist tradition, distant from Roman classicism, the most characteristic traits of the artist’s painting emerge, namely the research on colors, light and the psychological rendering of the characters that he fully expresses in the altarpieces, portraits and fresco cycles.

The Suardi Oratory near Bergamo (1524) stands out with its complex iconography.In the cycle the Stories of Saint Brigida and Saint Barbara are narrated, with scenes of great invention and liveliness one after the other, the latter characterized by the large figure of Christ in the center from whose hands vine shoots unravel with a clear allusion to the Eucharist.

During the Bergamo period, Lotto executed and sent several works to the Marche region

Having moved to Venice he executed San Nicola in Gloria (1529, church of Santa Maria del Carmine), which did not meet the favor of his contemporaries. Only in 1542, he had the commission for a second altarpiece depicting the Alms of St. Antoninus for the Dominican church of SS. John and Paul: in the center, Saint Antoninus is intent on reading while two angels whisper to him interceding for the group of poor people below, waiting for alms. The work is one of his masterpieces for its inventive happiness, the quality of the painting and the rendering of the characters’ faces.

 

Between 1534 and 1539, the artist resided in the Marche region, probably in Ancona and Macerata, and executed highly evocative altarpieces and portraits such as the shadowy Altarpiece of the Alabarda of Ancona (1538) and the meditative Madonna of the Rosary of Cingoli (1539).

In the last period of his life Lorenzo Lotto still lived in Treviso (1542-1545), Venice (from here he sent the Assunta of 1548 to Mogliano) and then in the Marche: perhaps driven by unfavorable economic conditions, he decided to sell through a lottery in Ancona at the Loggia dei Mercanti, forty-six works. The sale did not produce the desired results. In 1552, he retired to the Holy House of Loreto where he created paintings on sacred subjects, a direct expression of the style of his last years and the greatness of the artist.

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