All the artists catalogued in this volume were active in Bergamo, Brescia and Cremona in the sixteenth century, cities characterised as much by the artistic interaction between them as by the influence of Venice. They include such well-known names as Lorenzo Lotto, Moretto and Moroni, as well as less familiar ones such as Bartolomeo Veneto and Callisto Piazza.
The comprehensive entry for each picture covers technique and materials, conservation and condition, subject and iconography. A brief but informative account of the original patronage of the painting is followed by a discussion of changing tastes, and of how the picture has been interpreted and esteemed (or neglected) during subsequent centuries. More than a third of the paintings catalogued here are portraits, and these entries include valuable sections on contemporary dress, furnishings and accessories. Some of the paintings, such as Lotto’s celebrated Portrait of a Woman inspired by Lucretia and Moroni’s portrait of a tailor, have long been highly regarded, but this catalogue sheds new light on exactly what is represented in these familiar but enigmatic images.
Detailed descriptions of frames and framing reflect the growing interest in this field among both curators and the general public. An extended appendix provides fascinating entries on some of the great collectors and collections of the past. Biographies of the artists provide valuable information for the researcher, especially where the artist is little known, while for the general reader and scholar alike, these sketches of the artist’s character and career are a useful aid to a fuller understanding of his work.
NICHOLAS PENNY is Director of the National Gallery. He was previously Senior Curator of Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and prior to that, Keeper and Clore Curator at the National Gallery, London. His publications include Giotto to Dürer (1991); the Catalogue of European Sculpture in the Ashmolean Museum (1992); The Materials of Sculpture (1993); the National Gallery catalogue of The Sixteenth Century Italian Paintings Volume II: Venice 1540–1600 (2008); A Closer Look: Frames (2010); and The National Gallery, London: Director’s Choice (2011).