The Virgin and Child with Saints

Lorenzo Lotto1522

The National Gallery, London

The National Gallery, London

Saint Jerome (about 342 - 420), the chief inspiration for Christian penitents and hermits, is shown on the left with a crucifix. Saint Nicholas of Tolentino (about 1245 - 1305) wears the black habit of the Augustinian order and holds lilies over his breast, which glows with sacred radiance. The coffin on which Christ stands is most unusual and may be taken to refer to his future conquest over death.

This work was painted towards the end of the period that Lotto spent mainly in Bergamo. There is another, better preserved, version of the picture (apparently painted at the same time but drawn first), in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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  • Title: The Virgin and Child with Saints
  • Creator: Lorenzo Lotto
  • Date Created: 1522
  • Physical Dimensions: 91 x 75.4 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • School: Italian
  • More Info: Explore the National Gallery’s paintings online
  • Inventory number: NG2281
  • Full Title: The Virgin and Child with Saints Jerome and Nicholas of Tolentino
  • 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 Martin Colnaghi, 1908