LA CIVETTA April 2019 - Page 23


Lotto remained alone and nomadic for the whole of his life, an existence that certainly seems to have taken its toll in his later years.But we must not forget the artist’s brilliant humour and wit.

It is fair to say that Lotto’s compelling and original portraiture style has sometimes been overshadowed by the giants of the Renaissance – it’s no mean feat having Titan and Raphael as your contemporaries – but his subtlety penetrating and engaging portraits mark him out as one of the Renaissance’s greatest artists. In the first Lotto exhibition to take place in Britain in more than half a century, the National Gallery certainly do his great works justice.

The exhibition at the Nation Gallery comprises of Lorenzo Lotto’s famously symbolically rich and sensitive portraits, bringing together some of his masterpieces and lesser known works from all around the globe. One of the most striking elements of Lotto’s portraits is that they act like a mirror into the artist’s own life and beliefs. Whether it’s a doubtful cherub considering the newly married and ambitious young social climber Marsilio Cassotti and his oblivious aristocratic wife Faustina, or the sensual yet pointedly moral portrait of an unidentified woman who points to an image of the loyal Lucretia, Lotto imparts his personal take on his subject. Interestingly, the subjects of Lotto’s portraits came form a range of social classes and he paid poor people in exchange for their sitting for him.

His works also strikingly reflect his mental state and its deterioration into depression. Forced by the poverty he faced in the later years of his life, his paintings take on a much darker and bleaker tone. We have some idea of the artist’s internal frustrations and troubles from the multiple changes that he made to his will and the despairing comments he left on his account of expenditures.

His most reknowned portrait features Andrea Odoni, a wealthy Venetian patron. In the portrait he appears as a larger than life figure, but the inclusion of a miniature statue of Hercules urinating in the background and a bust of the Roman emperor Hadrian peeping out from under the table somewhat undermine Odini’s powerful and arresting gaze.


Lorenzo Lotto, Portrait of a Woman inspired by Lucretia, 1530

Lorenzo Lotto, Portrait of Andrea Odoni, 1527

, 1530