Artibus et Historiae no. 68 (XXXIV)

2013, ISSN 0391-9064

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PAUL HILLS - Lorenzo Lotto’s Shrouds and Veils (pp. 9-28)

Lorenzo Lotto deploys all manner of draperies and cloths within his paintings. He not only observes textiles closely, he uses them to dramatize appearances, staging local disturbances in grand canopies and curtains as well as in more intimate veils. Drapes and cloths are instruments of disclosure and concealment. In this paper I explore two complementary aspects of Lotto’s devotion to cloths, which in a manner characteristic of currents in contemporary spirituality brings together the domestic and the ecclesiastical. In the Madonna and Child with Saints in Cracow, the veil supporting the Child alludes to his shroud. In Lotto’s altarpieces, notably the Entombment in Jesi, Christ’s shroud and the silken cloth draped over the tomb are analogous to the furnishings of the altar. Some precedent for this can be found in the paintings of Lotto’s Venetian predecessor in the Marche, Carlo Crivelli. In Lotto’s smaller religious paintings, such as Christ Taking Leave of his Mother, he points to domestic equivalents – such as towels, handkerchiefs, napkins – for the vestments of Christian ritual.


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