Lorenzo Lotto, An Ecclesiastic in his Study, a drawing

Italy, about AD 1510-30

A priest surrounded by the paraphernalia of a learned man

This charming drawing was executed in pen and brown ink, the shadows created by a varying brown wash. Other areas are heightened with white to show the fall of light. The pen strokes are short and immediate which suggests that Lotto (about 1480-1556/7) worked with a fresh and rapid hand.

A priest sits in his book-filled room. He has been interrupted in his reading and looks out at the viewer. He wears a priest's biretta and religious dress. A large money purse hangs from a belt around his waist. To the right a small dog sits up on a cushion. Behind and against the wall are shelves of books, vases and chests. A carved head and bronze bell for calling his servant sit on the right of his desk. In the background is a bed and beside it a painting with a holy water container below. Evidently, the room the room belongs to an educated and cultivated young man who likes tasteful and expensive objects around him.

The drawing may be dated to between 1510-30, perhaps when Lotto lived in Bergamo, in northern Italy, where he painted many portraits and religious works. His portraits are remarkable for the suggested characters of the sitters which are complemented by their actions and settings.

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More information


N. Turner, The study of Italian drawings:, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)


Height: 164.000 mm
Width: 197.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1951-2-8-34



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