Lorenzo Lotto
Italian painter, draughtsman and illustrator



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Lorenzo Lotto
Italian painter, draughtsman and illustrator
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Birth Date

~ January 1480

Death Date

~ January 1556

More about Lorenzo Lotto

cschuster's picture

Sr. Contributor

Lorenzo Lotto was a Venetian who couldn't get work in Venice because nudes weren't his thing.

The biggest Veneto painters balanced sexy business with deeply religious and complex allegorical subject matter. Lorenzo could do religious and allegorical all day long, but nudes were a big question mark for him. He even paid a model to undress just so he could get a look under the hood and try to understand what all the fuss was about. So, he did a walkabout around Italy. Tried painting Rome, making it so far as doing some work in the Vatican Apartments. But Raphael had that on lockdown. And it was on the road again for Lorenzo.

He made it around central Italy until landing in Bergamo, the perfect home base for a shy guy who could succeed best clothes-on. In Bergamo, Lotto was the biggest name in painting. His portraits were in hot demand, and it was nothing but champagne wishes and caviar dreams. But, the good times stopped rolling only a couple decades later. He goes from top 'o the world to accepting olive oil and a ham in exchange for a portrait. Facing utter destitution, he tried to auction off 46 of his own works, but sold only seven. He would have been better off working for ham.

Eventually, he loses his voice and the sight in one eye. He moves to a monastery making rent by painting numbers on hospital beds. The solitude offered plenty of opportunity to work on a final masterpiece, but even there life had to swift kick square in the balls. He died before the work could be complete.

Posterity was as unkind to Lotto as life. After the 18th century, his works were attributed to artists as diverse as Paolo VeroneseLeonardo da Vinci, and Van Dyck. Pretty much anyone but him got credit for the work. A rediscovery of Lotto's artistic contributions began with a monograph in the late 19th century, but only really took off with an exhibition at the Doge's Palace in Venice in 1953. Despite the resurgence of interest, he's mostly remembered today for being so imperfect an artist as to be intriguing. Even money on whether he'd take that for a compliment.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Lorenzo Lotto

Lorenzo Lotto (c. 1480 – 1556/57) was an Italian painter, draughtsman and illustrator, traditionally placed in the Venetian school, though much of his career was spent in other North Italian cities. He painted mainly altarpieces, religious subjects and portraits. He was active during the High Renaissance and the first half of the Mannerist period, but his work maintained a generally similar High Renaissance style throughout his career, although his nervous and eccentric posings and distortions represented a transitional stage to the Florentine and Roman Mannerists.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Lorenzo Lotto.