Lorenzo Lotto was born in Venice, where he trained as an artist. However, he was distanced from other Italian artists by his style of painting, which was viewed as unfashionable in an age dominated by the two great Venetian painters, Titian (c. 1488-1576) and Tintoretto (1518-94). Lotto was a unique artist, with a vision that enabled him to create remarkable paintings which have a contemporary resonance today. His realistic and empathetic works, filled with distinctive sharp lines and vivid colors, lean towards Flemish art rather than Venetian. Consequently, during his lifetime Lotto did not achieve the level of success that his accomplished and emotive paintings deserved; he died penniless, having joined a religious order in 1554. For centuries Lotto remained largely ignored by art critics, and it was only in the twentieth century that his reputation was restored. Lotto's most successful paintings were portraits. The Portrait of a Married Couple is a fine example of his vivid style, not least for its depiction of symbolic objects such as the squirrel and the sheet of paper with the inscription that reads "Man not animal". Lotto's penchant for including symbolic references in his paintings has led some to describe him as a forerunner to the Surrealists.
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