PREVIEW: Lorenzo Lotto Portraits, National Gallery

The National Gallery is to present the first exhibition of portraits by the Italian Renaissance artist.


Allegory of Virtue and ViceAllegory of Virtue and Vice, 1505. National Gallery of Art, Washington, Samuel H. Kress Collection, 1939.1.156. Image courtesy of the Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. 

Bringing together many of Lotto’s best portraits spanning his entire career from collections around the world, the exhibition will include masterpieces as the Bishop Bernardo de’ Rossi (1505) from the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte in Naples, united with its striking allegorical cover from the National Gallery of Art, Washington; and the monumental altarpiece of The Alms of Saint Antoninus of Florence(1540-2) from the Basilica Santi Giovanni e Paulo in Venice coming to the UK for the first time.

The exhibition will be staged broadly chronologically, with the display starting with Lotto’s earliest portraits before exploring the work from his most significant periods in Bergamo and Venice and ending with the late paintings. It will also include the objects related to those he depicted will also be displayed.

Director of the National Gallery, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, says “A contemporary of Titian, Lotto was one of the most original portrait painters of the Renaissance. The scholars and merchants, artisans and clerics and the family groups he depicted are vibrant with personality and psychological depth. Five centuries on they come alive before us in all their human complexity.”

The first room will explore Lotto’s work from his time in Treviso (1503–6) and will include the Allegory (1505) from the National Gallery of Art, Washington and  Assumption of the Virgin with Saints Anthony Abbot and Louis of Toulouse (1506). Meanwhile, the second room will concentrate on the Bergamasque period (1513–25), which will feature Lucina Brembati  (about 1520–3) and The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, with Niccolò Bonghi (1523).

Moving on to room three, visitors will see works that the artist produced in Venice displayed including the National Gallery’s own Portrait of a Woman inspired by Lucretia (about 1530-2) and the Portrait of a Young Man with a Lizard (1528–30) from the Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice.

The final room will celebrate the the late work and includes the remarkably well preserved and affecting Portrait of a Man with a Felt Hat (1541?) from the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, as well as the altarpiece of The Alms of Saint Antoninus  of Florence (1540–2).

Matthias Wivel, Curator of 16th-century Italian Paintings at the National Gallery, and curator of Lorenzo Lotto Portraits said: “Lotto’s empathetic approach to his sitters, his attention to detail and his willingness to explore new formats and ways of composing portraits all contribute to a body of work that is astonishingly varied and feels more direct, less filtered, than those of his contemporaries notably Titian’s more elevated, idealised portraiture.”

Lorenzo Lotto Portraits will be on display at the National Gallery from the 5th November until the 10th February 2019. For more information visit:

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