Who is Giovanni Battista Moroni?
Lovers of the National Gallery may already know Moroni’s exquisite painting The Tailor (1565-70); as intimate in its own way as Vermeer’s crowd-pleasing Girl with a Pearl Earring. He came from the Albino in Northern Italy, close to the Alps, which put him out of the Florentine slipstream. Nevertheless, here he had a busy and rewarding career in the 16th century, painting portraits of the nobility and clergy of the region but also turning his gaze to the more ordinary members of society: the sculptor, the schoolmaster. As with the best painters, Moroni draws the viewer into relationship with each of his sitters. Bearded and intense, they could almost be in Shoreditch today were it not for their doublets and ruffs.
The show offers a good lesson in the development of the portrait as an art form, consonant with the Renaissance idea of the human as a unique individual, part of the cosmic order. Following the example of painters like Moroni, the representation of living people in paint (rather than just historical or religious figures) was a means by which society eventually became secularised. Moroni has been noted as socially sympathetic to his sitters, often the ordinary working people like the aforementioned tailor. Certainly, he also painted religious themes and rich noblemen – the artist in those days was a hired hand, after all – but something about his portraits, often in 'three-quarter' poses, and often painted against neutral backgrounds, suggest a vivid continuum to the photographic portrait of today. The ‘infinity’ backgrounds draw out the internal state of the celebrity sitter. Look also for Moroni's frugal colours: all the more pleasing for their restraint.
|What||Giovanni Battista Moroni, Royal Academy|
|Where||Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Green Park (underground)|
25 Oct 14 – 25 Jan 15, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
|Price||£12 (£11-£10 concessions, Free for under 16s)|
|Website||Click here for more information and to book via the Royal Academy|