Other excellent artists painted in Venice contemporary to the masters of the Venetian painting school, from the days of Giorgione to the end of the XVI century. These painters have been considered as stars of a second magnitude compared to those we have previously discussed, but that, seen within this phenomenon of the evolution of Venetian painting of the 1500’s, they were endowed with great and very individual talent. One of them was Lorenzo Lotto (ca. 1480 – 1556/1557), who although had been born and trained in Venice, worked mainly in Rome. Born in 1480, Lotto kept a young and sentimental spirit throughout his life, and apparently because of this he seemed to have grafted into his artistic soul something of Giorgione’s aesthetic finesse.
Lotto traveled for many years, painting and learning. In Rome, he saw how Raphael‘s school imposed his academic formulas; in the Adriatic provinces he witnessed the rare phenomenon of beauty of Correggio‘s paintings… When Lotto returned to Venice in 1529, he was too old and experienced enough to be influenced by any other artist. In consequence, the triumphs of Titian, who was then at the height of his fame, couldn’t divert him from his path. But the one artist Lotto could never forget was Correggio, and that is how through Lotto’s work, something of the great sentimentality and poetic chromatic vibration of the master of Parma entered the Venetian school, and this is fully revealed many times in the magnificent portraits he executed. The tenderness of feelings in Lorenzo Lotto’s painting is a reflection of his infinite goodness, of his resistance to adversity in life, and of the kindness that his contemporaries admired in him. Even the devilishly malicious Pietro Aretino, in a letter to Titian who was then in Augsburg painting the portrait of Charles V, said that “Lotto was good as goodness itself”. However, this doesn’t exclude that, like all great introverts, alongside serious moralistic concerns, Lotto showed an admirable ability to appreciate comical details even in mystical and dramatic scenes. The long and hard-working life of Lorenzo Lotto ended in 1556 or 1557 in the sanctuary of Loreto, where he had entered to serve as a layman four years earlier.
Another painter born in Albino, near Bergamo (actual Lombardy), younger than Lorenzo Lotto, was the unsurpassed portraitist Giovanni Battista Moroni (ca. 1520-1524–5 February 1579). We know little information about his life. It has been said that Moroni studied in Titian’s workshop, which is based only on the commonly accepted tradition that Titian praised Moroni’s portraits saying that they were very vivid or true to life (‘veri‘). And indeed, Moroni has left us a series of portraits that still today have a life of their own. In most of the most important museums in Europe, the visitor can suddenly meet one of these true people portrayed by Moroni, which amaze because of their realism. In his old age, Moroni was tempted with commissions to make religious compositions and even he wanted to paint a Last Judgment, on which he was working when he died in 1579. Ultimately, with these intellectual paintings Moroni only managed to demonstrate how the desire to bend or conform to the demands of the public can harm the production of an artist.
Jacopo dal Ponte (ca. 1510 – 14 February 1592), called Jacopo Bassano (from his birth place Bassano del Grappa near Venice), is the artist who closes this cycle of 16th century Venetian painting. Influenced by Tintoretto and Lotto, he was the head of a local small school whose most prominent members were his sons Francesco and Leandro; its characteristics were the special treatment of light and shadow and the reiteration of pastoral themes with shepherds and domestic animals, all presented with determined naturalism. Such was the importance of these elements in their works that they ended up being the only excuse for Bassano’s painting. Thus they painted series illustrating the four seasons, the farm work, the entrance of Noah in the ark, etc. This school made an effort to portray the physical qualities of hay, trees, animals and their fur, etc. Its naturalism and provocative materialism was harshly criticized by the romantics of the 19th century. Théophile Gautier, for example, said in his “Journeys in Italy” (1902) that he’s horrified by Bassano’s paintings and calls them “boring rubbish painting”. Today our opinion has changed dramatically. The Bassano indeed reflected the trends of their time in literature and music: great epics like “Orlando Furioso” (1516) by Ludovico Ariosto were no longer written; at the end of the 16th century the people was reading the pastoral poem “Arcadia” (1480) by Sannazaro published back in 1501 in Venice which later became a bestseller, in Italy alone more than 66 editions were printed. Even the Bassano were rustic authors of bucolic poetry.
In the arts at the end of the 16th century, Venice seemed exhausted by so much effort, but it would still produce another brilliant stage in the 18th century during the course of another lavish artistic period right in the height of the Baroque.
Manneken Pis: (from Dutch meaning ‘Little Pissing Man’, also known as puer mingēns, from Latin). A figure in a work of art depicting a prepubescent boy in the act of urinating, either actual or simulated. The puer mingens or manneken pis could represent anything from whimsy and boyish innocence to erotic symbols of virility and masculine bravado.