Husband and Wife (c. 1543) by Lorenzo Lotto

Husband and Wife - Lorenzo Lotto - 1523

Artwork Information

TitleHusband and Wife
ArtistLorenzo Lotto
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions116 x 96 cm
Art MovementHigh Renaissance
Current LocationHermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Location Created Italy

About Husband and Wife

The artwork titled “Husband and Wife” was created by Lorenzo Lotto in 1523. This portrait is an oil on canvas, measuring 116 by 96 centimeters, and is exemplary of the High Renaissance art movement. The piece was crafted in Italy and presently resides in the Hermitage Museum located in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It depicts a genre scene, specifically a matrimonial portrait.

In the artwork, two figures are represented against a dark backdrop with a sliver of landscape visible on the left. The male figure is seated on the left, attired in a dark robe with a full-sleeved, light-colored shirt underneath, accentuated with a fur-lined outer garment. His gaze confronts the viewer directly, holding in his right hand a paper with the Latin inscription “Homo Numquam,” which translates to “Man never.” This likely hints at a philosophical or moral statement.

Beside him, the woman is adorned in a sumptuous gown, enriched with pearls and gold, and a headdress befitting of her status. She is holding a small, fluffy dog, a symbol of fidelity, gently in her arm, while her other hand holds the paper near her husband, creating a visual connection between the two. Her expression is serene as she looks out towards the viewer, providing a personal connection. The intimacy and partnership between the two are emphasized through their physical proximity and the shared piece of paper.

The attention to detail in clothing, the luxurious textile of the cushion on the table before them, and the faithful rendering of the dog all point to Lotto’s skills in depicting textures and capturing character in a domestic setting. The play of light and shadow is subtle yet evocative, lending a sense of volume and depth to the figures. This portrait endures as an insightful exemplar of Renaissance portraiture, reflective of societal values, personal relationships, and the focus on individual expression during that era.

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