MORONI, Giovanni Battista
(b. 1525, Albino, d. 1578, Bergamo)

Gian Lodovico Madruzzo

Oil on canvas, 202 x 117 cm
Art Institute, Chicago

Moroni was held to be the best portraitist of his age. Even Titian himself put Moroni's ability to paint his models 'al vero' before his own. Born in Albino near Bergamo, Moroni was Moretto's pupil in Brescia until about 1543, but he was strongly influenced by other artists, too, such as Savoldo, Lorenzo Lotto, and Titian. Apparently he hardly ever left the area around Bergamo. By about 1560 he had become the leading painter of the region and set the course of the Lombard school. He was particularly favoured by the aristocracy as a portraitist, but he also received several ecclesiastical commissions.

The commission to paint formal portraits of two members of the Madruzzo family, which ruled as prince-bishops in Trent from 1539, was one of the most prestigious of Moroni's early career. Depicting the brothers Gian Lodovico (1532-1600) and Gian Federico (c. 1530-1586), they were to hang with a portrait that Titian painted of the young men's uncle Cardinal Cristoforo Madruzzo (1512-1578).