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Moretto da Brescia

Painter, fresco painter and muralist

Born
ca. 1498 in Brescia
Died
1554 in Brescia

3 Works by Moretto da Brescia

Biography

Alessandro Bonvicino, called Moretto da Brescia, was born into a Brescian artist family around 1498, but is not documented until 1514. His artistic beginnings are obscure, but one can perhaps assume that he was first trained by his father, followed by a possible sojourn in Venice or Padua. Moretto's earliest surviving documented works are the outsides of the organ wings in the old cathedral in Brescia, for which he was paid in November 1516. These already show the influence of Romanino, with whom the painter would collaborate in the early 1520s on the painting of the sacrament chapel in Brescia's San Giovanni Evangelista. In 1517 Moretto had taken part in a gathering of local painters in the church of San Luca in Brescia, and soon after 1520 he was finally fully established as an artist in his hometown; this is apparent not only from regular mentions in the city archives but also from his documented works. In 1528/29 Moretto travelled to Bergamo at the invitation of Lorenzo Lotto, in order to carry on the latter's work on the intarsias of the choir stools in Santa Maria Maggiore, although the share of the Brescian artist in these works is unclear. Even though Moretto remained quite closely tied to Brescia - he purchased a house there in 1533 - and produced numerous altarpieces for the churches of that city and its environs, he also repeatedly travelled to neighbouring cities, though it is not recorded what specific works he painted in them. In late 1530 and again in 1541 he was in Milan, and in 1535 he stayed at the court of Isabella d'Este in Solarolo. Whereas Moretto's art in the 1530s was mainly characterised by the combination of Lombard realism and Venetian light, as well as a cool, silvery colouring that he blended into an unmistakable personal style, he was later greatly influenced by the demands of the Counter-Reformation: static compositions with minimal narrative details that could be readily understood even from a distance were meant to communicate the beliefs of the Catholic Church (in the 1540s alone, for example, Moretto produced four altarpieces glorifying the Eucharist). The obviously great demand for his works resulted in the expansion of his workshop, which, despite the presence of such an important painter as the young Giovanni Battista Moroni, meant a reduction in quality in numerous works, or at least a noticeable lack of uniformity in style. In addition to his activity as a painter of altarpieces, Moretto was also a successful portraitist.

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