Portrait of Old Woman with Young Boy, Pietro Bellotti

Born in Volciano di Salò in 1627 (1625 according to Orlandi), Pietro Bellotti acquired fame as a painter of portraits and character heads. Due to his style, fully represented in the present portrait of Elderly with Younger, it is possible to place Bellotti in the panorama of Venetian painting in the “tenebrosi” current.
According to Orlandi he worked for Cardinal Mazarin, Cardinal Ottoboni (the future Pope Alexander VIII), for the Elector of Bavaria and others. In Mantua he was “superintendent of the city and villa galleries” for the Gonzaga. After wandering from court to court he returned to Garda and died in poverty in Gargnano in 1700.
Among Bellotti’s best-known works are the heads of old men, characterized by a particular lenticular rendering of wrinkled skin. According to Orlandi, he would have been a pupil of Michel Ferraboschi (read Girolamo Forabosco) and it is said that he had drawn his taste for minutiae from this master. But the examples from beyond the Alps of the so-called “peintres de la réalité” also counted for his naturalism. In addition to the caricatured heads of a Lagneau, one might also think of a distant reflection of Georges de La Tour. Extremely significant in this regard is the erroneous attribution to B. of the Old Woman with Child in the collection of the Marquis of Casa Torres in Madrid (A. L. Mayer, 1940), a typical work of de La Tour’s circle.