Lorenzo Lotto, Portrait of a youth with a petrarchino

Lorenzo Lotto, Portrait of a youth with a petrarchino, oil on wooden panel, between 1524 and 1526 (inv. n. 32)

Born in Venice, the artist sought employment in other regions, accepting offers from both religious organisations and members of the nascent Italian bourgeoisie. Lorenzo Lotto only received critical acclaim as an extraordinary innovator in the last century, particularly as a portrait painter. Testimony to this is the Portrait of a youth with a “petrarchino”, representing a young man intent on reading a small volume containing the lyrics of Petrarch. Everything about the painting works to familiarize the viewer with the actions of the youth, but also to portray the psychological undertones that seem to transpire from and ripple across the subject's face. The capacity to capture fleeting changes of sentiment and fix them in indelible physiognomies is a prerogative of the Venetian artist. The true identity of the young man remains unknown, as are the details of the work, despite the entries that the artist regularly added to his diary. The suggestion that the work may have been painted between 1524 and 1526 therefore, relies entirely on a stylistic analysis.