Giovanni Battista Moroni (c.1520-1579), The Sackler Wing, Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1, until 25th January 2015
This is the first UK exhibition devoted to this talented 16th century Italian painter and while one can ask “why?” one acknowledges that it was certainly worth the wait. His portraits have a realness that underlines the character, appearance and almost the soul of the sitter. It would not surprise me greatly if one of his subjects started talking to me because they give that sense of engagement and realism.
While usually associated with the city of Bergamo, which was part of the Venetian Republic, he is also known to have worked in Brescia, Albino and Trent which are close by. It is most likely as there was no ducal or noble court in Bergamo this meant that many of Moroni’s subjects are drawn from the professional and intellectual classes as well as artisans. His very well-known portrait of The Tailor is the first known portrait of a man depicted doing manual labour.
He was also a painter of religious subjects which reflect the principles of the Counter-Reformation and he produced works for both public devotion in churches as well as for more private devotion. All in all this really is an eye-opening and rewarding experience.