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Giovanni Battista Moroni, is considered by some (myself included!)

to be one of the greatest portrait painters of the Late Renaissance.

Born in Albino near Bergamo, Italy in 1520

Moroni would later train under the tutelage of religious painter

Alessandro Bonvicino, known as “Il Moretto”.

However, it is not for his religious paintings for which Moroni is famed,

but for his penetrating, evocative and emotive portraits.


(images from the bbc.com):

(c) The National Gallery, London; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Portrait of a Young Man with an Inscription, 1560

(c) The National Gallery, London; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

L’Avvocato (The Lawyer)

Portrait of a Man Holding a Letter, 1570

Moroni was masterful at capturing, the unique physical traits of each sitter,

adding further to depicting qualities of individuality in

postures which were natural, genuine, believable.

Enveloped in accomplishing this portrayal of corporeal realism is an added

dimension of psychological factor:  a communicative element

conveyed through the sitter’s demeanor.

(image from hyperallergic.com):

Moroni, Met, Twenty-Nine-Year-Old-Man, 1567, from hyperallergic.com -320

Portrait of a Twenty-nine Year Old Man, 1567

Moroni is genius at presenting this ‘glimpse’ into presumed thought.

It is the subtlety of enigmatic expressions,

which captivates and invites the viewer to consider

what the sitter may have been thinking

accentuated by: a steady gaze, a raised brow,

a mouth’s curve and contours, a head’s side tilt.

Herein lies the beauty of Moroni’s work, his ability to present portraits

which are of simple composition, yet of complexity for contemplation.

(images from bbc.com):

(c) The National Gallery, London; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Portrait of a Man with Raised Eyebrows, 1570

(images from wga.hu):

moroni, use, the black knight, 1567, from wga.hu _k

The Black Knight, 1567

Though his portraits are readily recognisable,

Moroni did not have a specific style per se.

Rather than establishing a signature elemental to every painting,

his intent seemed focused on capturing a true essence of each sitter.

moroni, portrait of a gentleman, 1550, wga.huport_gen

Portrait of a Gentleman, 1560

(image from hyperallergic.com):

Moroni, Abbess-Lucrezia-Agliardi-Vertova, 1557,from hyperallergic 320

Portrait of Abbess Lucrezia Agliardi Vertova, 1556

(c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Portrait of the writer, Giovanni Bressani, 1562


He worked mostly in tones of black, grey, browns.

Yet, he was a wonderful colourist,

possessing an appreciative eye for the impact of colour.

It is said that the great artist Titian,

himself renowned as an extraordinary master of colour,

commended Moroni’s work.  This was great praise indeed .


(c) The National Gallery, London; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

La Dama In Rosso, 1556 – 1560

Portrait of a Lady

(image from artnet.com):

Moroni, Portrait of a Gentleman, 1565, from artnet , at Feigen mason5-4-3

Portrait of a Gentleman, 1565

(images from hyperallergic.com):

Moroni, Portrait-of-a-Lttle-Girl of the Redtti Family, 1570, fom hyperallergic -320

Portrait of a Little Girl from the Redetti Family, 1570

(image from wga.hu):

Moroni, the gentlema in pink, 1560 from wga.hu

Gentleman in Pink, 1560

Most of Moroni’s portraits were of the petty aristocracy and

members of the bourgeoisie families of Bergamo,  whom he

presented in dignified manner.

The paintings also give a rich insight into the fashion of the period:

black as high-status colour, textural material/cloth,

white ruff collars/sleeves, jewel colours, furs and pearls.

Moroni, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bartolommeo Bonghi, 1553,from hyperallergic.com, Bartolommeo-Bonghi

Bartolommeo Bonghi, 1553

(image from wga.hu):

moroni, antonio navagero, from wga.hu

Portrait of Antonio Navagero, 1565

The Tailor (Il Tagliapanni)

is the artist’s most celebrated work.

The painting is regarded as the earliest portrait of

an artisan at his labours.  The tailor with instruments of his trade:

a pair of scissors in one hand and a portion of material in the other,

looks out with self- assurance at the viewer.

He exudes a confidence of his skills and accomplishments through

facial expression, body posture and the expensive quality of his own attire.

Everything that speaks to Moroni as a portraitist par excellence is

accomplished in this exquisite painting.

(image from bbc.com):

(c) The National Gallery, London; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The Tailor (Il Tagliapanni), 1565 – 1570

The Royal Academy of the Arts (RAA), London

will host an eagerly awaited exhibition

on the portraiture by Giovanni Battista Moroni.

The show is curated by the RAA’s own Arturo Galansino.

For the first time, many of the paintings will be seen outside of Italy.

This is a show not to be missed.

Giovanni Battista Moroni

Royal Academy of the Arts, London

25 October 2014 – 25 January 2015

For additional details on the exhibition and related lectures/discussions, visit: