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Genevieve K. Verdigel // Lotto as Disegnatore

In Lorenzo Lotto’s ‘Portrait of a Noblewoman as Lucretia’, the protagonist holds aloft a drawing of what might be considered her namesake. On this piece of paper is a sketchily drawn figure that has been compared with the graphic style of the young Titian. It is also, a pentimento: visible underneath this ‘drawing’ is a coloured copy after Marcantonio Raimondi and Raphael’s engraving of Lucretia. As such, this painting makes it clear that both Lotto produced drawings and looked to the designs of other artists working across the Italian peninsula.

Lorenzo Lotto, ‘Saint Martin Dividing his Cloak with a Beggar’, c.1530, brush with grey-brown wash with white heightening over black chalk on brown paper, 314 x 217 mm (Los AngPhilip Pouncey remarked on the importance of this small sketch to the understanding of Lotto’s draftsmanship in his ‘Lotto disegnatore’ that he published in 1956. This was the first catalogue raisonné of Lotto’s drawings and was in part inspired by Pouncey’s attribution of two drawings in the British museum to Lorenzo Lotto. The approximately 20 further attributions collectively pointed to a draftsman who had a distinctive albeit varied graphic idiom. Yet, despite Lotto’s increasing recognition as a seminal, yet maverick, figure among his peers the catalogue of his drawings has not been revised since 1956. In recent years though, the understanding of Lotto’s career has been increased through various exhibitions, monographs and anthologies. What has emerged is a picture of an artist whose innovative work was shaped by periods in Venice, Treviso, Le Marche, Rome and Bergamo. In turn, while Lotto would himself consider his career to have not been the most successful, his resourcefulness enabled him to create output in diverse media through collaborations with other artisans. Such productivity was of course dependent on Lotto’s creation and use of diverse forms of drawings, as indicated by extant portraits, figure studies and compositional designs attributed to him and now dispersed in various collections across the world. Lotto as Disegnatore is as such a means to further understand Lotto as an artist.

The goal of this project is to revisit and revise the catalogue raisonné of Lotto’s drawings. Taking Pouncey’s analysis as its point of departure, all historical and current attributions will be critiqued. Close attention will be paid to the drawings’ technique and media in order to consider how his training shaped his working practice. Considering the drawings in relation to the projects they were preparatory to will also allow for a consideration of how their characteristics were shaped by the purpose they were to serve. This analysis will be placed in line with Lotto’s itinerant career in order to better understand how his graphic idiom was shaped by the artists and artworks that he engaged with on his travels. Bringing all these factors together will ultimately further emphasise the importance of Disegno to an artist whose roots were in Venice.


[Caption: Lorenzo Lotto, ‘Saint Martin Dividing his Cloak with a Beggar’, c.1530, brush with grey-brown wash with white heightening over black chalk on brown paper, 314 x 217 mm (Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum: inv. 83.GG.262)]