Sunday 25 January 2015

Book review – Moroni by Giovanni Battista

Fig 1. - Book cover

This was going to be an exhibition review as well, but as I went on the last day of the exhibition it’s a book review since the book is still available. And it is well worth the £20 cover price for the paperback, though I got it at the Royal Academy for a discounted price since the exhibition was finishing. (Fig 1 Book Cover)

The book is well illustrated with good colour, and lots of details from the paintings. There were 42 items in the exhibition and these are all listed at the end of the book. Most of the paintings are by Moroni (c.1521/24-1579/80) but the first four are by Moretto (c.1492-1554), the man who taught him, and whose work I don’t remember having come across before. Moretto, like his pupil had a very good eye for clothing, have a look at the buttons and button loops on his King David. (Fig. 2)

Fig. 2 Detail from King David
The book starts with a revue of Moroni’s work, placing him in the political and religious landscape of the time, it also looks at the various judgements to which his works have been subjected since his death in 1579/80. There are then six chapters looking at his teacher Moretto, his early works, his aristocratic portraits, his portraits from nature, his altarpieces and his late portraits; this follows the organisation of the exhibition. The book finishes with a catalogue of all the material in the exhibition. 
Fig. 3 Detail of stockings

As I went around the exhibition I found myself looking at the costume detail, you can see these in the book illustrations, but I will accept that it is easier in front of a life size painting to see, for example, that the stockings on the gentleman in pink are from the vertical lines, almost certainly knitted. (Fig 3.) As a final example of costume detail you could probably draft a pattern from this blackwork collar. (Fig. 4)

Battista, Giovanni. Moroni. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2014. ISBN 9781907533822
Fig. 4 Detail of blackwork collar

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