Portrait of Giovanni della Volta with his Wife and Children

Lorenzo Lottocompleted 1547

The National Gallery, London

The National Gallery, London
London, United Kingdom

This is probably a portrait of the Venetian merchant, Giovanni della Volta and his family described in Lotto's account book between 1538 and 1547. No other portrait of a man, woman and two children by Lotto is known.

The action is focused on the bowl of cherries on the table. The mother offers cherries to her daughter, while the father offers them to his son, who seems to dance before him in the foreground.

The table with its elaborately patterned Turkish carpet is central to the painting. This is of a type frequently represented by Lotto (hence known as a 'Lotto carpet') and has yellow arabesques on a red field, and a Kufic border.


  • Title: Portrait of Giovanni della Volta with his Wife and Children
  • Creator: Lorenzo Lotto
  • Date Created: completed 1547
  • Physical Dimensions: 104.5 x 138 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • School: Italian
  • More Info: Explore the National Gallery’s paintings online
  • Inventory number: NG1047
  • Artist Dates: about 1480 - 1556/7
  • Artist Biography: Lotto was one of the leading Venetian-trained painters of the earlier 16th century. He painted portraits and religious works exclusively. His early works are strongly influenced by Giovanni Bellini. Lotto was active in various places in Italy and absorbed a wide range of other influences, from Lombard realism to Raphael. He was deeply religious and his late paintings become intensely spiritual. Unable to compete with Titian, Lotto worked mainly outside Venice. He is recorded at Treviso in 1503, then in the Marches, and in Rome, probably in 1508. From 1513 to 1525 he resided mainly at Bergamo in Lombardy, where he painted several major altarpieces. A period in Venice from 1526, with long absences, was followed by his retirement to a religious establishment at Loreto in 1552. Lotto's later paintings are recorded in an account book and diary which he kept from 1538. His works are characterised by the use of deeply saturated colours, bold use of shadow, and a surprising expressive range, from the nearly caricatural to the lyrical. He is one of the most individualistic of the great Italian painters.
  • Acquisition Credit: Bequeathed by Miss Sarah Solly, 1879

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