Lorenzo Lotto, Portrait of a Bearded Man

Artist | Lorenzo Lotto (ca. 1480–1556/57)  
Title | Portrait of a Bearded Man  
Date | 1535–1540  
Medium | Black chalk, heightened with white, on discoloured blue paper 
Dimensions | 237 x 178 mm  
Institution | National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh  
Credit line | Purchased 1966  
Theme | The Human Form  
Museum number | D 4908 

Venetian artist Lorenzo Lotto (ca. 1480–1556) spent much of his career outside of Venice thanks to profitable commissions received elsewhere, for instance in the Marches, a region in central Italy. Lotto’s large oeuvre is dominated by religious subjects and portraits. This portrait of a bearded man reflects the artist’s interest in rendering distinctive facial features and in naturalistic representations of his sitters. Blue paper aided Lotto in achieving these goals. The support enhances the plasticity of the figure through its textured structure, as the black chalk is absorbed into the paper at varying degrees depending on pressure. This tonal effect is reinforced by the white heightening. This drawing may represent the same sitter as the Portrait of a Goldsmith in Three Positions at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.