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Leonardo Loredan knows that he is being looked at, but he does not return our gaze. He is the doge, the ruler of the Venetian Republic; elected in 1501, he ruled until his death in 1521.
Bellini no doubt wanted to make this visual connection, but here he shows how he can surpass sculptural portraits through his mastery of oil paint. The subtle blending of colour in this slow-drying medium allowed him to create convincing tonal transitions when painting flesh. Oil paint also lends itself to slightly blurred contours; Loredan’s expression seems changeable, making him appear lifelike and immediate as well as distant and imposing.
Oil on poplar
H 61.6 x W 45.1 cm