Ritratto di un uomo (1533-1534)

Lotto, Lorenzo (1480-1557)

Ritratto di un uomo (Portrait of a Man, possibly Girolamo Rosati)
Oil on canvas, 108.2 x 100.5 cm
Cleveland Museum of ArtCleveland

The gesture of the elegantly dressed man is a mystery. Is he rising from his chair to address someone or is he pointing to something outside the frame? His right hand rests on a piece of paper (a letter?), while on the table are clover—a symbol of abundance, good fortune, and happy marriage—and jasmine, associated with purity and love, further emphasized by the roses on the trellis. There may have been a companion portrait of the sitter’s bride, to whom he acknowledges his devotion. Another recent interpretation identifies the sitter as Girolamo Rosati, a high official in Fermo, on Italy’s east coast. The paper may be a design for one of his important architectural projects, to which he may be pointing in the distance. The interrupted moment is a naturalistic touch characteristic of Lotto, quite distinct from the formality of the other Italian Renaissance portraits in the museum’s collection. Though this portrait clearly articulates the man’s status, Lotto emphasizes his individuality and interiority as much as a socially constructed identity. (CMA)