How A Partial Biography Could Be Harmful For A Painter? Lorenzo Lotto
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“How a partial biography could be harmful for a painter? Lorenzo Lotto’s peripatetic career in Vasari’s Lives” (I still need a better title)
Why do we read Vasari’s Lives? Surely not for the historical accuracy of the data he provides us nor for his scientific approach to the artist’s biographies. We read what we consider a masterpiece of Italian literature mainly because, instead of concentrating on long tedious enumeration, exegetical and philological details or monotonous galleries of portraits, Vasari preferred to choose according to his taste, to stick to what he was given to know, to carefully consider and judge the paintings with his intelligence, sensibility and enthusiasm. This explains why it is interesting to analyse even a scanty biography as the one of Lorenzo Lotto in both the editions of the lives. Lotto’s biography may be considered especially interesting in order to understand how an artist, who developed his own pictorial poetic, diametrically different from that of his fellow citizens, and who worked mainly in peripheral centres, entered the ranks of those painters, sculptors and architects whose memory Vasari has sought to preserve.
In either edition of the Lives, Vasari devotes to Lotto a scanty biography shared with Jacopo Palma, also knew as Palma il Vecchio. In the Torrentini’s edition, Lotto’s life is particularly concise, to use a euphemism. Vasari literally reserves the artist’s biography a one-tenth of the lines he uses to describe Palma’s Life.