Faithful to Nature: Eleven Lombard Paintings 1530–1760

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The foremost painter of Bergamo, meanwhile, was Giovanni Battista Moroni (no later than 1524–1578).18 Born in nearby Albino, Moroni studied with Moretto and was active in Trent during the Council before returning to Bergamo and, ultimately, Albino. Moroni was one of the most outstanding portrait painters of the sixteenth century, and his likenesses — whether they portray an aristocrat in extraordinary fashions or the tailor who made them (FIGS. 15, 16)— arrest the viewer with forthright realism and exquisite attention to details of costume. Portraiture was also central to the art of Lorenzo Lotto (ca. 1480–1556), the Venetian painter who worked throughout the Marches and the Veneto, becoming the leading painter in Bergamo between 1513 and 1525.19 Throughout his peripatetic career Lotto developed a distinctive visual language. Featuring a brilliant, jewel-tone palette, congested compositions, dramatic, angular gestures and poses, and details of still life rendered with a specificity that makes them look Netherlandish, Lotto’s learned works are often highly allusive, and today sometimes elusive, in their meaning. Yet in their striking frankness, and their careful attention to naturalistic details, his portraits feel closely aligned with his those of his Lombard contemporaries and successors (FIGS. 17, 18).

The Development of Genre and Still-Life Painting in Cremona Meanwhile, in Cremona, painters were beginning to create images which had little or nothing to do with the standard sources of narrative painting (mythology, history, and religion), but instead depicted a variety of still-life subjects—ordinary people undertaking quotidian activities like working and dining, the interiors of kitchens and inns, and market scenes. These artists followed the lead of Dutch and Flemish painters like Pieter Aertsen and his nephew Joachim Beuckelaer, who had developed these themes in the 1550s and 1560s, and whose works were exported to the south.



Giovanni Battista Moroni Isotta Brembati, ca. 1555 oil on canvas Fondazione Museo di Palazzo Moroni, Bergamo

Giovanni Battista Moroni The Tailor, ca. 1570 oil on canvas The National Gallery, London


Lorenzo Lotto Portrait of Lucina Brembati, ca. 1518–23 oil on panel Accademia Carrara, Bergamo

Lorenzo Lotto Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, 1523 oil on canvas Accademia Carrara, Bergamo




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