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Moroni met Alessandro Vittoria (1525–1608), who had repeatedly worked with Jacopo Sansovino, Andrea Palladio and Paolo Veronese, during the Council of Trent. A short time earlier, the painter had been hired to decorate the rooms where the Council was to meet. Although Moroni also painted religious pictures, he was one of the very few artists in Italy at the time to specialise in portraits. In his biography of Venetian artists, which was published in 1648, Carlo Ridolfi reports that Titian had suggested to several high Venetian officials travelling to Bergamo that they have their portraits painted by Moroni because his work was “true and natural”. Such realistic tendencies were already present in the art of Bergamo, but they are found more strongly in Moroni’s case because of the influence of German and Netherlandish painting. In contrast to the attempts of artists since Renaissance times to conceal the elements of craftsmanship in their profession, Vittoria is apparently facing the viewer in his work clothes. This is further emphasised by his rolled-up sleeve, the uncoiffured look of his hair and the “snapshot” quality of the scene, and yet Moroni undermines all this with the shining, almost silky appearance of the dark fabric of Vittoria’s clothing. The sculptor is holding a male torso of antiquity at a respectful distance in his hands, but Moroni’s use of colour weakens the formal impression of distance: the thickly applied white of the torso is repeated on the sleeve and on the collar of Vittoria’s shirt. This innovative “professional portrait” of an artist colleague influenced Titian with regard to both form and content in his famous portrait of Jacopo Strada (ca. 1567/68: KHM, GG 81) © Cäcilia Bischoff, Masterpieces of the Picture Gallery. A Brief Guide to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 2010

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