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Altarpiece of the Annunciation to the Virgin
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16th Century
Lorenzo LOTTO
Altarpiece of the Annunciation to the Virgin
Oil on canvas
166 x 114 cm  [HxW]
Comune di Recanati, Recanati (MC)

The talent of an artist like Lorenzo escapes any attempt at classification in the various schools of painting in Venice during the early Cinquecento. Indeed, even though he signed himself as a “Venetian painter”, the peculiarity of his style is the reason for the scarce consideration in which he was held by his fellow citizens: so much so that more than once he was obliged to leave the city where he was born and find work in Treviso, Lombardy and the Marches.

Throughout his long life, Lorenzo was always a solitary artist, jealously maintaining the intimacy of his absolutely personal language, which he built up through countless different experiences, and he has even been attacked by some for being an eclectic artist, in the least flattering sense of the term. At the beginning, when he was in Venice, Lotto worked under Alvise Vivarini and immediately after, refusing the tonal revolution of Giorgione and Titian, he appears to have approached the Northern models, through direct knowledge of the works of Albrecht Dürer, who was in Venice between 1505 and 1507, or indirectly by studying the Venetian paintings of Antonello da Messina. But Lotto was also the first Venetian painter to go to Rome, where documents show that he was living in 1509, when he made some unfortunately not identifiable works in the Vatican Stanze, at the time when Sodoma, Peruzzi and Sebastiano del Piombo were also working there. The emphasis on colour in his early paintings may indeed have been of interest even to Raphael himself. But it was naturally the works of the maestro of Urbino which struck the young Venetian painter, as can be clearly seen in the broad, natural use of space, the careful realism of the figures and the powerful luminosity which were a feature of his works after his return from Rome. During his time in the extremely lively city of the popes, Lorenzo acquired new life, making him impervious to any tonalistic suggestions from Venice and indeed creating an increasingly acute chromatic timbre, devoid of contrast with light.

Filippo Pedrocco

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