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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Lorenzo Lotto and the surgeon's painting : a private commission in the Venetian Provinces Klebanoff, Randi Paula


Lorenzo Lotto's Madonna and Child with SS Roch and Sebast ian is a private devotional work, originally in the possession of a surgeon in Bergamo. In this thesis, the painting is looked at as a work that incorporates the associations of a traditional form and charges it with iconographically rich layering to suit its particular commission. A critical historiography of the artist and of the painting introduces my work into the context of the received tradition. I look at the patron of the painting, Battista Cucchi, and at the social and political situation in Bergamo in order to establish the contemporary context of the image. The painting is unusual in its composition, with formal and iconographic innovations giving a disconcerting quality to what is at the foundation a traditional Venetian type -the half-length Madonna and Child with saints. Chapter Two discusses the fifteenth-century half-length tradition in Venice, and Chapter Three deals with the new trends in the sixteenth century that transform private devotional painting in the period of Lotto's Bergamo career. Chapter Six explores the complex iconography of the image. Although the resonances of the prototype -miraculous imagery and the Venetian pedigree suited to Lotto's Bergamo patronage - are preserved, the hieratic aspect and traditional form of the Venetian half-length are transformed. Stylistic dissonances and iconographic innovations both underline particular meanings that are stressed. The two plague saints Roch and Sebastian are common in Venetian works and signal a healing context. Their ecstatic expressions and aggressive participation however are unique in this format. They extend their bracket of healing to participate in the devotional iconography of Christ, Roch by echoing the gesture of Christ and Sebastian by stepping forward in a role as alter christus. The prominent and unusual device of the slab conveys the altar/tomb connotations of the conventional parapet in a more overt way, and by seating the Madonna and Child above it, Lotto emphasizes the theme of triumph over death. Simple on the surface, the painting communicates traditional devotional messages of salvation and intercession that are tempered to apply to the surgeon patron.

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