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The Art of Public Speaking
Our food visits and cooking lessons are led by master cheese tasters and local chefs. Our city walks are led by knowledgeable and friendly local guides We take pride in what we do. Here we see the Virgin, borne aloft on her statutory latex cloud, with the Apostles agog and incredulous beneath her. But Lotto makes us laugh with the witty details. One of the Twelve has taken out his pince nez , the better to view the spectacle. Another, Doubting Thomas, is in danger of missing the whole show.
We see him off to the right, sprinting down the mountainside, drapery afloat. If this is the Lotto you love, this exhibition will show you another side of him.
A good many of the works displayed here were painted in exchange for bed and board. Lotto never had much money.
Nevertheless, he loved a game and he loved a symbol. Lucina Brembati, for example, wealthy matron of Bergamo, is portrayed c. Another Bergamo patron, painted in on loan from the Hermitage , earnestly points to a red squirrel, rather bizarrely but very sweetly asleep beneath his cloak. It stands for constancy, a virtue that this new bridgeroom portrayed with his very young and scared-looking wife is going to do his level best to embody.
The portrait originally had a cover, likewise painted on a wooden board, an elaborate allegory of the progress of the soul. On the right we see a spent and drunken satyr, having given the best of himself to wine. On the left, an immature putto cluelessly dabbles with Art and Science, embodied by a pair of compasses and a recorder and pipes.
Let us not say, then, that the exhibition contains no jokes. There is a particularly good one in the portrait of Andrea Odoni from the Royal Collection in London. The wealthy Venetian antiquary poses with his treasures: a head of Hadrian, a Diana of Ephesus.source
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Behind him stand two more: a Venus at her bath, foot daintily raised above a basin of water, into which a statuette of a drunken Hercules is casually urinating. Even in his altarpieces Lotto includes portraits.
One of the delights of this show is the altarpiece of the Assumption from the cathedral of Asolo in the Veneto. In situ it is difficult to appreciate because it can only be viewed from a distance. Here in London, one can get right up to it and inspect the features of the Virgin as she ascends on her cloud. This is no saintly Mother of God. She has been given the mature, worldly features of the redoubtable Caterina Cornaro — , Venetian noblewoman and sometime Queen of Cyprus, who retired to Asolo and gathered about her men of literature and learning.
The font in Asolo cathedral bears her coat of arms. It is true. In Venice, Lotto — was completely surpassed by Titian — In Bergamo by Moroni — But the life of the imagination and the sense of personality is never so vivid or so manifoldly felt as it is in the idiosyncratic works of poor Lorenzo Lotto. Poor Lorenzo.