1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Moretto, Il

MORETTO, IL (“The Blackamoor,” a term which has not been particularly accounted for), the name currently bestowed upon Alessandro Bonvicino (1498–1554), a celebrated painter of Brescia, Venetian school. He was born at Rovato, in the Brescian territory, in 1498, and studied, first under Fioravante Ferramola of Brescia, afterwards, still youthful, with Titian in Venice. His own earlier method, specially distinguished by excellent portrait-painting, was naturally modelled on that of Titian. Afterwards he conceived a great enthusiasm for Raphael (though he does not appear to have ever gone to Rome), and his style became partially Raphaelesque. It was, however, novel in its combination of diverse elements, and highly attractive—with fine pencilling, a rich yet not lavish use of perspective and decorative effects, and an elegant opposition of light and shade. The human figure is somewhat slender in Bonvicino’s paintings, the expression earnestly religious, the flesh-tints varied, more so than was common in the Venetian school. The backgrounds are generally luminous, and the draperies well modified in red and yellow tints with little inter-mixture of blue. The depth of Bonvicino’s talent, however, was hardly in proportion to its vigour and vivacity; and he excelled more in sedate altarpieces than in subjects of action, and more in oil-painting than in fresco, although some fine series of his frescoes remain, especially that in the villa Martinengo at Novarino, near Brescia. Among his celebrated works in the city are-in the church of S. Clemente, the “Five Virgin Martyrs,” and the “Assumption of the Madonna” (this latter may count as his masterpiece); in S. Nazaro e Celso, the “Coronation of the Madonna”; in S. Maria della Grazie, “St Joseph”; in S. Maria de’ Miracoli, “St Nicholas of Bari.” In the Vienna Gallery is a “St Justina” (once ascribed to Pordenone); in the Stadel Institute, Frankfort, the “Madonna enthroned between Sts Anthony and Sebastian”; in the Berlin Museum, a colossal “Adoration of the Shepherds,” and a large votive picture (one of the master’s best) of the “Madonna and Child,” with infant angels and other figures above the clouds, and below, amid a rich landscape, two priests; in the National Gallery, London, St Bernardin and other saints and two impressive portraits. Il Moretto is stated to have been a man of child-like personal piety, preparing himself by prayer and fasting for any great act of sacred art, such as the painting of the Virgin-mother. His dated works extend from 1524 to 1554, and he was the master of the pre-eminent portrait-painter Moroni. He died on the 22nd of December 1554.