LOTTO, Lorenzo
(b. ca. 1480, Venezia, d. 1556, Loreto)

Portrait of a Gentleman in his Study

c. 1530
Oil on canvas, 98 x 111 cm
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

Coming originally from Bergamo, Lorenzo Lotto soon abandoned Venice in search of fresh artistic experience in other cities of the Veneto, in Lombardy, Rome and the Marches. He was influenced for example by Antonello da Messina, Melozzo, Dürer, Raphael and Titian. In particular after his meditation on Lombard realism Lotto's painting, which never lent itself easily to rules of any kind, established an individual style based on a refined tension of compositional rhythms, a subtly natural light and a gentle blending of colours. Lotto's portraits achieve an extraordinary poetic quality and have a subtly autobiographical flavour about them with the at once melancholy and dreamy atmosphere which the subjects inhabit. One of the very finest of Lotto's portraits is this Young Gentleman in his Study.

The pale young man with his finely tapered face, is obviously a lover of both music and hunting, witness the mandola and the hunting horn hanging from the piece of furniture on the right, and is caught here in a moment of yearning thoughtfulness as his fingers leaf absent-mindedly through the pages of a large book. The natural light, entering through an invisible window, highlights the vibrant blacks and greys of his garments, the pale pink tones of his flesh and the blues of the table and just manages to penetrate the dark of the background in subdued illumination of the objects there, the finely turned ink-stand and the keys on the sideboard. The human figure too with its lack of any strong emotion, seems to participate in the arcane calm of this stupendous still life, the recently opened letter, the slow dropping of the rose petals, the silk shawl from whose folds darts a lizard. Such searching after human truth, veiled with melancholy, is at quite the opposite pole from the dignified idealization pursued by Titian in the portraits he painted at about the same time.




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