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Lorenzo Lotto
Italian, c, 1480-1556

SN 64, oil on canvas, c. 1547

From: "The Pages"


Born in Venice before 1480, Lotto died in Loreto in 1556. He trained with Giorgione and Titian in the studio of Giovanni Bellini, but worked in many places other than Venice. From 1508-12 he was in Rome, then lived mainly in Bergamo until 1526, when he returned to Venice. In 1554, when he was partially blind, he became a lay brother at the monastery in Loreto, where he later died.

Lotto had a difficult, nervous temperament. His style was idiosyncratic & nervous as well, standing somewhat apart from central Venetian tradition, and he seems to have had hard time earning a living through work, which was extremely uneven. It draws on a wide variety of sources, yet shows acute freshness of observation.

He worked mainly as a religious painter, but today is known more for his portraits, in which he often conveys a mood of psychological unrest much like his own. An outstanding example of how original and poetic his altarpieces could be is The Annunciation in the church of Santa Maria sopra Mercanti, at Recanati. It is a bizarre & captivating work, full of brilliant color and lighting effects, odd expressions & poses. Its detail is unusual and beautifully painted.

The Child lies in a basket before the Virgin as she stands in prayerful attitude. On the left, out the window, we see a landscape. A drapery is pulled to one side behind Her head.

This is an original painting by Lotto, done in his later years. He has used the same sleeping child, but in reverse, in two other paintings. One is the Holy Family with a Young Lady in Adoration in the Academy at Bergamo. The other is in The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas.

Despite its abraded condition due to damage and over-cleaning in the past, this painting shows the sensitivity, balance, and subtle dignity characteristic of Lotto’s late works.

Additional Bibliography:
Oxford Dictionary of Art, p 297

Museum Label:
Artist: Lorenzo Lotto
Italian, c. 1480-1556, active in Venice and Northern Italy
Title: Madonna and Child
Date: c. 1547
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 26 5/8 x 22 in. (67.6 x 55.9 cm)
Credit Line: Bequest of John Ringling, 1936
Object Number: SN64