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Lorenzo Lotto, Giovanni Agostino della Torre and his Son, Niccolò

Key facts
Full title The Physician Giovanni Agostino della Torre and his Son, Niccolò
Artist Lorenzo Lotto
Artist dates about 1480 - 1556/7
Date made about 1515-16
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 85 × 68.2 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated and inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1862
Inventory number NG699
Location Room 12
Collection Main Collection
Giovanni Agostino della Torre and his Son, Niccolò
Lorenzo Lotto

Giovanni Agostino della Torre was a distinguished doctor and citizen of Bergamo. He had taught at the University of Padua, and the costume he wears is official or academic dress. In 1510 he was elected prior of Bergamo’s College of Physicians, an office he held until his death.

The texts on the two square pieces of paper below the inkstand are prescriptions. The paper label on the back cover of the book held by Agostino reads ‘Galienus’, meaning Galen, who was the great medical authority of the ancient world. On one of the pieces of paper in Agostino’s right hand is an inscription that refers to Aesculapius, the physician god of the ancient Greeks and Romans. The portrait is signed and includes a date, which is illegible today but recorded as 1515.

The man behind Agostino is Niccolò, who was 33 in 1516 when his father died. It seems that he was added to what was originally conceived only as a portrait of Agostino, perhaps on the occasion of his father’s death.

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