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Giovanni Lorenzo Bertolotto - The baptism of Christ

Giovanni Lorenzo Bertolotto - The baptism of Christ


Large and important 17th century Italian old Master painting


Giovanni Lorenzo Bertolotto

(Genova 1640 – 1720) 

The baptism of Christ

Oil on canvas, 95 by 121 cm and ca. 108 by 138 cm with frame

Provenance: Private collection, Germany (according to the previous owners, the painting had remained in the city of Bonn since the 18th century)


This captivating oil painting depicts the Baptism of Christ. It is a depiction of a tale filled with hope and positivity as well as a highly important work in the oeuvre of Bertolotto.


We would like to thank Anna Orlando for confirming Bertolotto's authorship as well as placing the painting in his historical context. A copy of her entry on this painting will be given to the buyer.


She writes: This canvas depicting The Baptism of Christ must be referred without hesitation to the Genoese painter Gian Lorenzo Bertolotto, son of the painter Michelangelo Bertolotto, born in Genoa on 25 September 1646 and died there on 7 April 1720. The dates of his baptism and death are known, and, today, also a number of works to be referred to him on the basis of certain indications of the sources and documents. However, the artist still awaits a systematic study that critically orders his numerous paintings, the result of a prolific and not short career, distinguishing himself in the panorama of Genoa in the late seventeenth-early eighteenth century for his remarkable ability as a pleasant narrator. He works intensely on a parallel track to that of the house of Piola, which dominated the scene at that time with Domenico Piola (also Bertolotto's teacher), his son Paolo Gerolamo and his son-in-law Gregorio De Ferrari. Sources mention Giovanni Lorenzo among the pupils of Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (Ratti 1679, p. 102), but in the proceedings of a trial against him, of 1698-99 he declares himself a pupil of Domenico Piola. That document, found by A. Assini and M. Migliorini, sheds light on the painter's activity (accused of making copies) and provides the starting point for a first extensive study on the painter after the various reports of his works. Recently rediscovered by critics in the last few years, the painter stands faithful to the most typical tradition of seventeenth-century Genoese painting.


In a first phase in his evolution, rather than following the tradition of Castiglione, Bertolotto rather approaches the style of Gioacchino Assereto, Orazio De Ferrari and Bartolomeo Biscaino, with a precise and deliberate recovery of the naturalist instances of the protagonists of the previous generation, whose manner he leads up to the seventeenth century. The scenes are therefore set according to the so-called "Manfrediana methodus", therefore with a close sequence of the story with three-quarter figures and the canvases have a medium-large format. In parallel to this decidedly baroque development of his art, Bertolotto performs works of reduced format in which he staged biblical or mythological subjects in larger landscapes in which many figures participate, such as the unpublished work presented here which can be dated to the early years of Eighteenth century. If you isolate the single figure, both those cloaked with drapes that follow typical sinuous lines and even more typical (and recognizable) ways of bending and ending with a kind of tip), and those in which it exhibits its ability to define anatomies, you will find a match punctual with the figures that in other cases he paints "large", in the foreground and with a dominant position in the stage space.


An additional feature is that the painting is likely still housed in its original frame

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