This is one of the most innovative and dynamic portraits of the Renaissance. The Venetian collector Andrea Odoni (1488-1545) holds in one hand a statuette of Diana of Ephesus, symbol of nature, and with the other he clasps a cross to his chest, suggesting that Christianity takes precedence over nature and the pagan gods of antiquity. Lotto had recently returned to Venice after thirteen years in Bergamo and was anxious to impress possible patrons in Venice. The portrait has aptly been described as one of the finest and most ambitious of all of Lotto's portraits and a deliberate challenge to Titian's supremacy in the field. The portrait was recorded in the owner's bedroom in his house on the Fondamenta del Gaffero by Marcantonio Michiel when he visited the collection in 1532. Giorgio Vasari mentions the portrait 'che è molto bello', which he must have seen when he visited Venice ten years later. The painting was also included in the 1555 inventory of his brother and heir, Alvise Odoni. The son of a wealthy recent Milanese immigrant to the city, Andrea Odoni was an important member of the cittadini. He built upon the collection which he had inherited from his uncle, Francesco Zio, to become a renowned collector of paintings, sculpture, antique vases, coins, gems and natural history specimens. This portrait was hung in Odoni's bedroom alongside religious and profane paintings: a reclining nude by Savoldo, and paintings by Palma Vecchio and Titian (possibly 'The Virgin and Child with the Infant St John and a Female Saint or Donor', now in the National Gallery, London). The house also contained an unusual combination of ancient and modern statuary, with 'mutilated and lacerated antique marble heads and other figures'. Pietro Aretino (the poet and satirist) wrote to Odoni (in a letter of 1538) that he had re-created Rome in Venice, though elsewhere he describes the splendours of the house in a tone that suggests it overstepped the boundaries of Venetian decorum. Giorgio Vasari called Odoni's house 'a friendly haven for men of talent'. Most of the sculpture in the present painting has been identified as versions, probably plaster casts, of well-known originals. There are three representations of Hercules: Hercules and Antaeus; the standing figure with a lion skin identified at the time as Emperor Commodus as Hercules; and Hercules Mingens on the far right. There are two representations of Venus: the torso in the foreground (possibly Venus Victrix), and a Bathing Venus. In the foreground there is also a cast of the bust of Hadrian (Museo Nazionale, Naples). Odoni holds out statuette of Diana or Artemis of the Ephesians in his right hand. Of these only Hadrian's bust is known to have been in Odoni's collection, as it appears in his brother Alvise Odoni's inventory. It has been suggested that the others were not in Odoni's collection, but rather belonged to Lotto: we know from Lotto's wills and account book that he owned plaster and wax reliefs and sculpture in gesso. The fragments must have been included in the painting because they were important to Odoni, or as a symbolic commentary on him. Although the originals from which they were copied are likely to have been fragments, their battered state seems to have been emphasised by Lotto and their arrangement challenging and ironic, the Hercules Mingens placed facing the Bathing Venus, the torso of Venus in the foreground against the bust of Hadrian.


  • Title: Andrea Odoni (1488-1545)
  • Creator: Lorenzo Lotto
  • Creator Lifespan: c.1480 - 1556
  • Creator Death Place: Marche
  • Date Created: 1527
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Supplied by Royal Collection Trust / (c) HM Queen Elizabeth II 2012
  • External Link: http://www.rct.uk/collection/405776
  • Medium: Oil on Canvas
  • Provenance 2: Presented to Charles II in 1660 by the States of Holland and West Friesland
  • Object description: Three-quarter-length, sat at a table covered with a green cloth, facing half to the right, head turned to the viewer; wearing a dark, fur-lined coat, his left hand at his breast, his right holding out a statuette; coins, medals and statuary around

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