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Lorenzo Lotto, Portrait of Giovanni della Volta with his Wife and Children

Key facts
Full title Portrait of Giovanni della Volta with his Wife and Children
Artist Lorenzo Lotto
Artist dates about 1480 - 1556/7
Date made completed 1547
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 104.5 × 138 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Miss Sarah Solly, 1879
Inventory number NG1047
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of Giovanni della Volta with his Wife and Children
Lorenzo Lotto

Lotto wrote in his account book that he gave a painting on 23 September 1547 to ‘Giovanni della Volta, my landlord’. He describes it as ‘a painting with his portrait from life and that of his wife with two children, altogether comprising four figures’. The portrait may have been painted in lieu of rent.

The family is gathered around a table covered with an elaborately patterned Turkish carpet. The mother offers cherries from the silver bowl to her daughter while the animated little boy reaches up on one leg for a pair of cherries dangled from his father’s hand. The barren lagoon landscape may have symbolic significance or simply suggest a view through an upstairs window.

There is no other known portrait by Lotto of a married couple and two children – such portraits were unusual in early sixteenth-century Italy. Double portraits of couples were rare in Venice, but more common on the mainland where Lotto had worked extensively and painted several.

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