MORETTO da Brescia
(b. ca. 1498, Brescia, d. 1554, Brescia)

Portrait of a Gentleman

Oil on canvas, 201 x 92 cm
National Gallery, London

This work is one of Moretto's comparatively rare aristocratic portraits. Although influenced by German pictures in its early adoption of the full-length life-size format popularised by Cranach and adopted by Holbein, it is more indebted to Venetian painting. Moretto was said to have studied with Titian, and must have known the poetic works of Giorgione. He was certainly also aware of Lotto, who worked for a while in nearby Bergamo. The painting owes something to all of them, notably in its sitter's melancholy expression as he gazes abstractedly beyond the marble loggia of a Renaissance villa. He may have been a member of the Avogadro family of Brescia, for the portrait comes from the palace of direct descendants. Genealogical research suggests that he was Gerolamo II Avogadro, the father of Moroni's 'Knight of the Wounded Foot'.