Bernardino Luini

Bernardino Luini

Bernardino Luini (c. 1480/82-1532) was a North Italian painter from Leonardo's circle. Both Luini and Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio were said to have worked with Leonardo directly; he was described to have taken "as much from Leonardo as his native roots enabled him to comprehend" [Freedberg, 1993, p. 390.] . Consequently many of his works were attributed to Leonardo. He was known especially for his graceful female figures with slightly squinted eyes, called Luinesque by Vladimir Nabokov ["Luinesque eyes... God, how I kissed them..." ("La Veneziana", 1924).] .


Luini was born as Bernardino de Scapis in Runo, a "frazione" of Dumenza, near Lake Maggiore. Details of his life are scant.

In 1500 he moved to Milan with his father. According to Lomazzo, he trained under Giovan Stefano Scotto, although for others he was a pupil of Ambrogio Bergognone. In 1504-1507 he was probably in Treviso, as attested by a "Madonna with Child" signed "Bernardinus Mediolanensis faciebat" which is however of disputed attribution. Also from this period would be one "Madonna with Child" in the Christian Museum at Esztergom and "Lamentation of Christ" in the Fine Arts Museum of Budapest (c. 1506). His first fresco works are an "Adoration of the Magi" in San Pietro of Luino (c. 1505) and the attributed fresco in the presbytery of Monza Cathedral with "St. Gerard of the Painters".

Luini returned in Milan in 1509, receiving a commission for a polyptych from which today remains a "St. Anthony of Padua" in the Museo Poldi Pezzoli, influenced by Bernardino Zenale's "Cantù Polyptych". In the 1510s he painted frescoes in the Oratory of Santa Maria Nuova in Pilastrello, a "Lamentation of the dead Christ" in Santa Maria della Passione, a "Madonna with Child" in the Abbey of Chiaravalle, frescoes in San Giorgio di Palazzo (1516) and in the Certosa di Pavia, and others.

From 1509~1514 his one of Luini's best known works, the frescoes for "Villa Pelucca" in Sesto San Giovanni (now in the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan), commissioned by Girolamo Rabia, for whom he also painted mythological scenes in the Palazzo Rabia (now in the Berlin Gemäldegalerie and the National Gallery of Art, Washington).

In 1521 he travelled to Rome, where he was influenced by Raphael's style. This is evident in Luini's further frescoes in the Villa La Pelucca executed in 1520-1523, as well as in other works now at Brera. From 1523 is a beautiful polyptych in the Basilica of San Magno at Legnano.

In circa 1525, he completed a series of frescoes on the life of the Virgin and Christ for the sanctuary of "Santa Maria dei Miracoli" in Saronno; to the same year is attributed the fresco in the counterfaçade of Sant'Abbondio in Como. Other works from his middle period include a "Holy Family" in the Museo del Prado, two "Salome" in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Uffizi and a "Portrait of Lady" in the National Gallery of Art. From 1526 is a "Virgin with Child and Saints" in the Lee Fareham collection of Richmond.

In 1529 Luini completed one of his masterworks, the grand "Passion and Crucifixion" fresco at Santa Maria degli Angeli in Lugano, paired by other works in the same church. In 1531 he returned to the Saronno sanctuary to add other frescoes. In his later career Luini was increasingly influenced by Leonardo, as showed by the "St. Anne" of the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana and the "St. Catherine" of the Hermitage.

He died in Milan. His son Aurelio was also an accomplished painter.

elected works

*"Madonna with Sts Augustine and Margaret", Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris. Signed "Bernardino Milasnese", and dated 1507. "An index of the solidity of Luini's training in a veristic, rigid Quattrocento style" (Freedberg 1993:390), before the transforming, but superficial influence of Leonardo's style.
*"Virgin, Child, and St. John" (c. 1510), National Gallery, London. Another version in Fogg Art Museum, Boston.
*"Madonna Enthroned", abbey of Chiaravalle (c. 1512) []
*"Christ among the Doctors" (c. 1515-30), National Gallery, London
*Frescoes from the Cappella di S. Giuseppe, S. Maria della Pace, (1518-20) Detached, in the Brera Gallery. []
*"St. Catherine", National Gallery, London. (Another version in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg) []
*"Salome", Ball State Museum, Indiana []
*"Conversion of Mary Magdalen", San Diego []
*Fresco cycles for city and country houses of the Rabia family (1520-25) Now in the Brera, at Berlin, in Washington (National Gallery of Art [ "Procris and Cephalus" from Casa Rabia, Milan] ) and elsewhere. Several panel paintings also at the National Gallery, Washington DC.
*"Madonna and Child with St. John", Liechtenstein Collection, Vienna []
*Frescoes of the "Life of Christ" and the "Life of the Virgin". (1525) S. Maria dei Miracoli, Saronno.
*"Portrait of a Lady" (c. 1525) National Gallery of Art, Washington. [ Illustration]
*"Adoration of the Magi", detached fresco, 1520-25 (Musée du Louvre) [ Alluded to by Marcel Proust]
*"Holy Family with the Infant St John", Museo del Prado, Madrid. Panel, 100 x 84 cm. Compare with da Vinci's "Madonna/Virgin of the Rocks" at Louvre and National Gallery London []


*cite book | first= Sydney J.| last= Freedberg| year=1993| title= Painting in Italy, 1500-1600| chapter= | editor= Pelican History of Art| others= | pages= pp. 390-391|publisher=Penguin Books
*cite book | first= Irving | last= Lavin| year=1954| title= Cephalus and Procris: Transformations of an Ovidian Myth| editor= Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes| volume= XVII| pages= pp. 260-87, 366-72


External links

* [ Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Luini]

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