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Lorenzo Lotto, Friar Angelo Ferretti as Saint Peter Martyr (1549)

For Artwork in Focus we explore individual artworks, critiquing their style and discussing their socio-political context. Today we look at Friar Angelo Ferretti as Saint Peter Martyr (1491) by Lorenzo Lotto.

About the Work

Title : Friar Angelo Ferretti as Saint Peter Martyr
Artist : Lorenzo Lotto
Year : 1549
Medium : Oil on canvas
Dimensions : sight: 89.9 x 69.4 cm (35 3/8 x 27 5/16 in.)
Location : Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

An Unconventional Portrait

According to the digital catalogue of the Harvard Art Museums :

“The subject of this painting is almost certainly Angelo Ferretti, a Dominican friar, from whom the artist records payment for a portrait in 1549. Ferretti assumes the guise of Saint Peter Martyr, the thirteenth-century inquisitor who, according to legend, was assassinated with a meat cleaver on his way to Milan.”

Portraits such as this one were uncommon for their time owing to its gruesomeness. Interestingly, at some point in the history of this painting, one of its collectors was so uncomfortable with the scene depicted that they painted over the clever. This element was later rediscovered during a restoration in the 20th century.

Other Details

Lorenzo Lotto’s Friar Angelo Ferretti as Saint Peter Martyr is housed in the Harvard Art Museums in Room 2540. It is part of the museum’s collection of European Art, 13th–16th century – The Renaissance. The work was gifted to the Fogg Musuem in 1964, by Edward W. Forbes.


To learn more about iconic artworks and their socio-political context, visit Artwork in Focus.

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