Artibus et Historiae no. 80 (XL)

2019, ISSN 0391-9064

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PETER HUMFREY - Introduction (pp. 9–10)

The present volume, comprising contributions by friends, colleagues and former pupils, is intended as a Festschrift to honour Mauro Lucco on the occasion of his 70th birthday.

Mauro is a long-serving member of the Advisory Committee of Artibus et Historiae, and it is accordingly highly appropriate that he should be honoured in this context.

Although his academic career is one of great distinction, it may be summarised in a few lines. After graduating from the University of Bologna in 1974, he served briefly (1977–1982) as an inspector in the Soprintendenza per i Beni Artistici e Storici del Veneto, before returning to Bologna as Ricercatore, and then becoming Associato (from 1993) and Ordinario (from 2000). In 2008 he took early retirement, to dedicate himself to full-time research.

By contrast, it would take a very large amount of space to list, let alone to analyse, the enormous volume of publications he has produced over the past four and a half decades. The subject of his laurea thesis was Marco Basaiti, and within a few years he established himself as one of the leading authorities on the painting of Venice and the Veneto: especially on that of the later Quattrocento and early Cinquecento, but with a depth of knowledge that has extended much more widely, from the fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Representing a permanent monument to this interest and knowledge is the eleven-volume series La pittura nel Veneto (1986–2001), of which he was overall editor, and of which he wrote large sections himself. These were followed by several monographs on individual painters, including Giorgione (1997), Antonello da Messina (2011), Mantegna (2013), and Bartolomeo Montagna (2014). A co-authored catalogue raisonné of the work of Giovanni Bellini is currently close to publication.

With his abiding concern with the visual qualities and physical properties of individual works of art, Mauro could have pursued an equally outstanding career as a museum curator. Indeed, by common consent among his former students at Bologna, his courses on museology were particularly inspiring. And while remaining in the academic profession, he has been closely involved over the years with curating (or co-curating) a large number of important international loan exhibitions. These include: Lorenzo Lotto (Washington, Bergamo and Paris; 1997–1998); Dosso Dossi (Ferrara, New York and Los Angeles, 1998–1999); The Age of Van Eyck (Bruges, 2002); Pedro Berruguete (Paredes de Nava, 2003); Antonello da Messina (Rome, 2006); Bellini, Giorgione, Titian (Washington and Vienna, 2006); Mantegna a Mantova (Mantua, 2006); Sebastiano del Piombo (Rome and Berlin, 2008); Garofalo (Ferrara, 2008); Giovanni Bellini (Rome, 2008–2009); Tiziano e la nascita del paesaggio moderno (Milan, 2012).

Yet all these books and contributions to exhibition catalogues represent just the peaks of a mountain range, the foothills of which comprise innumerable articles and conference papers – most of them of ground-breaking importance. Even when writing about famous and already very well discussed works of art, Mauro has never been content merely to synthesise existing knowledge, but has always been ready to rethink old problems and, if necessary, to challenge received wisdom. This he has done on the basis of a highly refined connoisseurship and a prodigious visual memory, in a way that has very significantly advanced our knowledge and understanding of north Italian painting in a vital phase of its development. 

The essays in this volume salute this achievement, and are dedicated to Mauro with affection as well as with admiration.

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