“Lorenzo Lotto. Portraits” (Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid)

2018-08-18 232 Views

19/06/2018 – 30/09/2018

The Museo del Prado and the National Gallery in London are presenting the first major monographic exhibition on the portraiture of Lorenzo Lotto, one of the most fascinating and unique artists of the Italian Cinquecento.


In addition to offering an in-depth analysis of previously studied aspects of Lotto’s portraits, including their varied typology, psychological profundity and complex symbolism, Lorenzo Lotto. Portraits will explore other, less familiar ones, such as the artist’s use of comparable expressive solutions in his portraits and religious paintings, the importance of the objects in these works as a reflection of material culture of the day, and the creative process behind their execution. The intensity of these portraits and the variety and sophistication of the visual and intellectual resources employed in them make Lotto the first great modern portraitist.


Lorenzo Lotto (Venice, 1480 – Loreto, 1557) was one of the most fascinating and unique artists of the Italian Cinquecento and one whose appreciation among scholars and art lovers has steadily increased since Bernard Berenson first devoted a monographic to him in 1895, entitled Lorenzo Lotto; An Essay in Constructive Art Criticism. Writing at the time of the emergence of Freudian psychoanalysis, Berenson saw Lotto as the first portraitist concerned to reflect states of mind and as such the first modern one. Although this reassessment of Lotto has been particularly active since the 1980s, no exhibition or monographic publication to date has focused on his portraits, making this initiative a pioneering one.

The exhibition offers a new perspective on Lotto’s works through the presence in the galleries of objects included in his portraits, providing evidence of material culture of the day. It also looks at the way in which the artist conceived and executed his portraits, for which the rarely-exhibited drawings on display are particularly important given the lack of technical analyses of these paintings.

The variety of typologies employed by the artist, the concealed or overt symbolism in these works, the psychological profundity with which Lotto imbued his sitters, and the importance given to objects in order to define these individuals’ social status, interests and aspirations together give Lotto’s portraits such a degree of intensity that it can be said that they offer an unparalleled reflection of Italy in a state of profound transformation.