The return of Lorenzo Lotto

Lorenzo Lotto (1480-1556/57) is Italian painter, working during the Late Renaissance  and belonging to the Venetian art school. It is believed that Lorenzo Lotto was a student of the prominent Venetian artist Giovani Bellini.

His life was full of difficulties and obstacles through which he has passed with the patience and dignity that are typical for extraordinary personalities.

Most of his life Lorenzo spent in Northern Italy, traveling from town to town in search of livelihood. He stayed for a short time in Rome, where he was commissioned to paint the walls of the papal apartments. Later, his paintings were removed, for yet unknown reasons. His most famous works were made during his stay in Bergamo. The periods of his return to the native Venice, and his journeys through various towns in the Marche area, were also fruitful.

Strongly religious, albeit very independent in his thinking and behaviour, Lorenzo joined the Order of the Franciscan monks at the end of his life. Maybe to find shelter and security. Maybe in order to finally find peace of mind.

He painted altars and frescoed many churches in the cities where he has been. His religious paintings are characterized not only with an intimate knowledge of the religious content and symbols (obligatory for this subject), but also with bold colourite, magnificent unconventional composition, unique dynamics and strong realism.

Models for his saints and angels were ordinary people living in the cities he has been. He watched them with great love and transferred their thoughts and emotions into the faces of the painted saints. He paid well to each of his models (leaving behind him detailed records of the expenses made).

During this period, the predominant approach to the depiction of saints differs with idealization and deification. Lorenzo lands the Madonna and the Saints in his paintings. They are ordinary people like each of us. Human is divine.

Madonna looks tender, thoughtful and modest. The saints in his works are tired, curious, angry, vindictive. Every woman can be seen as a madonna. Every man can be recognized as a saint.

They say he did not take much seriously the “assignments” he has received. Perhaps the donors, who have commissioned him, have not been very pleased with the results. Because Lorenzo Lotto has been almost completely forgotten.

Until the end of the nineteenth century, when he was re-discovered by Bernard Berenson, an American art historian of Lithuanian-Jewish origin, one of the great connoisseurs of the Renaissance art.

Lorenzo also left us many portraits of notable inhabitants of the cities he has lived.

His portraits characterize him as an artist with extremely modern thinking, a psychologist and a fan of the detail. It portrays his models in their usual daily environment, surrounded by lovely objects, attributes and flowers. He drew them as they dreamed to be. Intense, dreamy, challenging, serious, sad… Painted by his brush, his models seem to be fulfilling his dreams. Unique portraits, still up-to-date, still talking and appealing.

Look at his self-portrait. The only his picture he has left us. What dignity in the posture. What sadness and irony in the sight. And the tranquillity of a man who has fulfilled his mission well.

Let’s remember that name – Lorenzo Lotto. The historical art truth will deserve it alongside the names of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Rafaello, Botticelli, Titian. One of the great names of the Italian Renaissance.

You can see Lorenzo Lhotto’s works in Wikiart.