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A Guest at the Palace The Adoration of the Shepherds by Lorenzo Lotto from the Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo, Brescia

As of September, the Palazzo Cini, the stately residence on the Grand Canal which displays highlights from Vittorio Cini’s art collection, will host Lorenzo Lotto’s Adoration of the Shepherds from the Musei Civici, Brescia. A late masterpiece by the great Venetian artist, the painting is characterised by striking colour juxtapositions and admirably intense atmospheric and light effects.

Count Paolo Tosio acquired the work in 1825. The Adoration has always been considered one of the great masterpieces in the Brescia collection. Vittorio Cini was also very fond of the art of Lorenzo Lotto. In 1941
he acquired the splendid Portrait of a Gentleman (possibly Fioravante degli Azzoni Avogadro), previously in the renowned Contini Bonacossi collection. Displaying Lotto’s Adoration of the Shepherds from Musei Civici, Brescia in the Palazzo Cini immediately brings to mind the presence in the same palace of that Lotto owned by Vittorio Cini, an invaluable piece in the collection which used to hang in the large salone.

Promoted by the Institute of Art History, this joint initiative involves the collaboration of the Fondazione Brescia Musei and the Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo, which has a remarkable art collection very knowledgeably put together by Count Paolo Tosio in the first half of the 19th-century (the bequest is dated 1844). Despite the different personalities of their owners and a diverse historical context, the two collections clearly have a number of affinities. Thanks to this initiative, a highly meaningful relationship has also been established with the city of Brescia, historically a place of meetings and exchanges of figurative art between the Veneto and Lombardy. Moreover, what is effectively the city pinacoteca holds some of the most significant works of the Lombard and Brescian school, represented by excellent works – to mention only a few examples – by Vincenzo Foppa, Giovanni Gerolamo Savoldo, Moretto and Romanino. Displaying the Adoration provides an opportunity to admire a masterpiece of Venetian Renaissance art in a refined, intimate setting and at the heart of a collection of great value and exceptional rarity. Moreover,

Lotto’s painting can be very meaningfully compared with works in the Palazzo Cini Gallery, and especially the masterpieces of the Tuscan and Ferrarese Renaissance in the adjoining room. The Lotto can thus be seen as conversing like a “guest at the palace” in rooms that were once the home of Vittorio Cini and his collections, the place chosen to display exemplary masterpieces but also capable of expressing and highlighting the subtle relations between similar collections in terms of value, history and meaning. The presence of the Adoration of the Shepherds from the Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo in the Palazzo Cini may also be seen as the first stage in a fascinating potential itinerary of Lorenzo Lotto’s works in Venice, which includes the nearby Gallerie dell’Accademia, with its stunning Portrait of a Young Man, the church of the Carmini, with the altarpiece of Saint Nicholas in Glory with Saints and, lastly, the basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, with another superb altarpiece – The Alms of Saint Antoninus.
The Palazzo Cini Gallery has been reopened thanks to the support of Assicurazioni Generali.