Northern Italy 1500-1580
Painting in the prosperous North Italian cities of Brescia and Bergamo combined a characteristically Lombard brand of realism with an awareness of Venetian art and its interest in light and colour. Lorenzo Lotto was from Venice but worked throughout Northern Italy, especially Bergamo. The hallmarks of his highly individual style are imaginative compositions, bold colours and expressive gesture.
At the beginning of the century, portraits were the preserve of the cities’ elites, but by the end, the market for portraiture was enormously expanded. Moretto, who was based in Brescia, was a pioneer of full-length portraiture in Italy. His pupil Giovanni Battista Moroni, who also worked in Bergamo, took up the format. Moroni’s portraits vividly evoke his sitters’ presence by setting their strongly lit, individualised features against simple, dark backdrops.
The fluid handling of paint and intensity of colour of Girolamo Romanino’s altarpiece for the church of San Alessandro in Brescia reflect his admiration for contemporary Venetian painting.