Living in Covent Garden with London's National Gallery on my doorstep, I often used its galleries as a useful shortcut between Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square. As the gallery has free entrance you can visit as many times as you wish from 5 minutes to 5 hours – now that's civilized! So dashing between the two squares I had masterpieces of the Renaissance flashing past me instead of ads for McDonald's which lined the longer route.
When I had more time my path would become less direct, and one picture that I was constantly drawn to was Lorenzo Lotto's glorious “Portrait of a Woman inspired by Lucretia”. As one of the gallery's main draws it has not been loaned to Rome for its major Lotto exhibition which opened recently and runs until June. It did however send another gem, “Giovanni Agostino della Torre and his Son, Niccolò” which hangs proudly with exquisite Lottos canvases from Ohio and Ottawa, Vienna and Paris. Among the most interesting loans, and many have been especially restored for this exhibition, are the altarpieces from churches in the north of Italy.
The Scuderie del Quirinale is presenting, for the very first time in Rome, an exhibition covering the entire artistic output of this spectacular and solitary master of the Italian Renaissance who, leaving the tranquil provinces of the Veneto and Marche behind him, lived briefly in Rome itself . Lotto and was sidelined by patrons after his work was rejected by the Papal household. Failure was perhaps inevitable, it would seem, when considering that his main artistic competitor was Rafael.
After his initiation into the evocative compositional style of Giovanni Bellini, Lorenzo learned from Antonello da Messina to probe the human soul and to tell its story on canvas, portraying it on a stage where his first true source of inspiration was that great German artist Albrecht Dürer. His paintings show very real emotions, often daring in the colour and perspective, and sometimes mischievous too. Paintings which have the capacity to make the viewer cry, laugh and wonder.
The exhibition hosts 57 crucial works by the master, including works both “sacred” and “profane”, from his large altarpieces to his portraits that are crucial to gain a full understanding of Lorenzo Lotto's artistic career and his life and times, and to highlight his vision and his poetry.
Emmanuele F. M. Emanuele, the President of Scuderie del Quirinale says,
The unique characteristics of his personality are represented in two periods of his work: his complexity is represented by the grandeur of his altarpieces. His instrospection, is revealed in his prevailing mystical vision of life, which led him to spiritual confinement in a monastery at the end of his life.“
And the curator Giovanni C. F. Villa sums up the artist,
Lorenzo Lotto is an artist who captures the essence and humanity of the things and people he portrays with a simple picture, a glazed picture painted with cool colours, giving movement through games of colours to create shadows.”
“Madonna con il Bambino e i santi Caterina d'Alessandria e Tommaso” from Vienna, now on show in Rome.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.