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“Triple Portrait of a Goldsmith” by Lorenzo Lotto

"Triple Portrait of a Goldsmith" by Lorenzo Lotto

“Triple Portrait of a Goldsmith” by Lorenzo Lotto

“Triple Portrait of a Goldsmith” by Lorenzo Lotto depicts Bartolomeo Carpan, a friend of the artist.  The “three faces” or in Italian “tre visi” of the portrait may be a pun on the subject’s hometown, Treviso. Lotto shows his friend in full profile, face on, and right three-quarter profile from behind.

Bartolomeo Carpan is dressed in dark clothes, wears a ring on his right hand, and in the front-on portrait holds a small object. That object is a ring-box, suggesting the subject was a goldsmith.

This painting had previously been attributed to other artists such as Titian until documentary evidence emerged for Lorenzo Lotto as the artist. Lotto was influenced by existing medieval examples of triple portraits and by a lost triple portrait of Cesare Borgia by Leonardo da Vinci. This painting, in turn, influenced “Triple Portrait of Charles I” by Anthony Van Dyck.

Lorenzo Lotto in Treviso

Lotto left Venice in 1503 because the competition for a new young painter was too high, with established names such as Titian. In Treviso, a prospering town within the domain of the Republic of Venice, he came under the patronage of bishop Bernardo de’ Rossi. He painted his first altarpieces for the parish church San Cristina al Tiverone (1505) and the baptistery of the Cathedral of Asolo (1506), both still on display in those churches.

During Venetian rule, the city of Treviso was fortified and given a massive line of walls and ramparts, which still exist today. These were renewed in the following century, and the Lombardi added two of the gates. The many waterways were exploited with several waterwheels, which mainly powered mills for milling grain. The waterways were all navigable, and “barconi” would arrive from Venice at the Port of Treviso pay duty and offload their merchandise and passengers along Riviera Santa Margherita. Fishermen were able to bring fresh catch every day to the Treviso fish market, which is held still today on an island connected to the rest of the city by two small bridges at either end.

Lorenzo Lotto

Lorenzo Lotto (1480 – 1556) was an Italian painter, draughtsman, and illustrator, of the Venetian school. He painted mainly altarpieces, religious subjects, and portraits. He was active during the High Renaissance and the first half of the Mannerist period. Still, his work maintained a generally similar High Renaissance style, although the Florentine and Roman Mannerists influenced his later work.

Triple Portrait of a Goldsmith

  • Title:                    Triple Portrait of a Goldsmith
  • Artist:                   Lorenzo Lotto
  • Year:                    1535
  • Material:              oil on panel
  • Dimensions:        Height: 52 cm (20.4″); Width: 79 cm (31.1″) frame dimensions: 65 x 93 x 7 cm
  • Museum:             Kunsthistorisches Museum

Lorenzo Lotto

A Virtual Tour of the Kunsthistorisches Museum

A Tour of Triple Portraits


“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Photo Credit: Lorenzo Lotto [Public domain]

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