Why the extravagant genius of the Renaissance has not been recognized for centuries in the Homeland: “Another Venetian” by Lorenzo Lotto
Among the great Italian Renaissance artists, Lorenzo Lotto occupies a special place. More recently, this painter was in the shadow of his famous contemporaries and countrymen, for centuries remaining unrecognized even in his homeland. Meanwhile, the creative and life path of this misanthrope and non-conformist of the times of Titian, as well as the fate of some of his paintings, deserve attention, study, and often admiration.
Lorenzo Lotto was born in 1480. Italian art in those days entered the era of the High Renaissance. The main direction in painting was determined by Venetian artists, and the inhabitants of mainland Italy strove to this city to adopt the manner of eminent masters and find expression and recognition of their talent.
Despite the fact that Lotto was lucky enough to spend his childhood and youth in Venice, having received an art education there, he did not become a Venetian artist in a sense.
Lotto’s painting style, already distinctive at the beginning of his career, was shaped under the influence of already recognized masters such as Bellini and later Giorgione. Alvize Vivarini is considered to be a teacher of Lotto directly, taking a rather modest place in the history of painting. But the work of Albrecht Durer, as well as personal acquaintance with him, had a much greater impact on the work of the young artist.
Lotto received his first large order at the age of twenty-three in Treviso, where he went to complete the portrait of Bishop Bernardo di Rossi. For the portrait, the artist created a second canvas, the “cover”, on which he portrayed “Allegory of Virtue and Vice”. At first glance, containing an abstract plot, the composition was directly related to the customer of the portrait: for example, the destroyed tree symbolized the genus de Rossi, which at that time was on the verge of extinction and torn apart by contradictions between its individual branches.
Not far from Treviso, in Tiveron, Lotto created the altar of the small church of St. Christina. The most successful and fruitful period is considered to be the artist’s life in the Marche region of Central Italy – the one where the cities of Ancona, Recanati, Jesi, Loreto are located. Currently, in many churches in this area you can find Lotto’s works – while in the large museums of the world their number is very small. The master also visited Rome, where in 1509, by order of Pope Julius II, he painted the interiors of the Vatican Palace. Lotto created many paintings in Bergamo, where he painted portraits of wealthy citizens.
Continuing to travel to various provinces of Italy, Lotto often took up the execution of orders – both decorating the interiors of temples and creating portraits. Breaking out of the canons of painting customary at that time, Lorenzo Lotto did not enjoy the unconditional recognition that other Venetians, especially Titian, acquired. In addition, work in Venice required from the artist qualities that contradicted Lotto’s nature: the ability to obtain the patronage of wealthy patrons, to please eminent masters, to observe certain standards of painting.
Focusing on the philosophy and landmarks of ancient art, Venetian painters created idealized, sublime images. Lotto, being a deeply religious, anxious, emotional person, emphasized the human nature of the characters in his works, involved the audience and the audience, sometimes contrary to the canons turning his eyes to the saints, as in the picture called “Madonna with the Four Saints”.
Portraits of the brush by Lorenzo Lotto are particularly deep, contain a reflection of the character’s inner world. The master does not flatter the model, but conveys – with the help of facial expressions, eyes, backgrounds, attributes, to which the artist has always approached with great care – the true psychological appearance of a person, and often his personal attitude.
In almost all of Lotto’s works, there is a landscape to which he paid considerable attention. In the painting “The Mystical Betrothal of St. Catherine”, behind a picture of a parapet with a carpet thrown over it, a large rectangular space is covered with dark paint. These are traces of ancient vandalism. In 1527, a certain French soldier, impressed by the beauty of the sight of Sinai in the picture, cut a piece of canvas for his personal collection. Neither the name of this person, nor the exact information about what the lost part of the picture looked like, history has preserved.