MORETTO da Brescia
(b. ca. 1498, Brescia, d. 1554, Brescia)
Count Fortunato Martinengo Cesarescoc. 1542
Oil on canvas, 114 x 94 cm
National Gallery, London
Moretto worked largely in Brescia, although he assimilated Venetian painting technique early in his career. Given its proximity to Milan, Brescia was culturally and religiously dependent upon the Lombard capital being part of its archdiocese in spite of belonging to Venice's mainland empire.
This painting probably depicts Count Fortunato Martinengo Cesaresco (1512-1552), a member of a branch of Brescia's most important noble clan. He was a leading literary figure in the city, founder of the Accademia dei Dubbiosi, and friend of Lodovico Dolce and Pietro Aretino, among others. He married in 1542, and this could well be a painting done at the time of his betrothal. Lavish details combine to evoke an opulent interior and a wonderfully patterned painted surface.