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Man in friar’s habit with meat cleaver in skull

A light-skinned man with a tonsured haircut is pictured from the hips up on a dark brown background. He has dark eyes and hollow cheeks. He wears a white shirt with a brown hooded cloak over it. In his left arm he cradles the edge of his cloak and a small black book. His right arm is also bent, and his right index finger is extended. A large meat cleaver is lodged horizontally in the back of the man’s head. A dagger is stuck into the left side of his chest. A thin golden halo is visible around his head.

Gallery Text

Lorenzo Lotto, a devout man with strong ties to the Dominican order, created portraits of startling psychological directness. The subject of this painting is almost certainly Angelo Ferretti, a Dominican friar, from whom the artist records payment for a portrait in 1549. Ferretti assumes the guise of Saint Peter Martyr, the thirteenth-century inquisitor who, according to legend, was assassinated with a meat cleaver on his way to Milan.

Crucial details of the work were revealed during twentieth-century restorations. The cleaver embedded in the scalp, painted over by a squeamish collector, was discovered in 1923. Twenty years later, the canvas’s original edges were found to have been folded behind the stretcher; when they were flattened out, conservators found Lotto’s signature on the lower left, and on the right, an inscription on either side of the palm branch: CREDO IN UNUM DEUM (“I believe in one God”). Peter reportedly wrote these words in his own blood as he lay dying.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Lorenzo Lotto, Italian (1480 - 1556/1557)
Friar Angelo Ferretti as Saint Peter Martyr
Work Type
Creation Place: Europe, Italy, Veneto, Venice
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2540, European Art, 13th–16th century, The Renaissance
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Physical Descriptions

Oil on canvas
sight: 89.9 x 69.4 cm (35 3/8 x 27 5/16 in.)
frame: 101 x 80.6 x 7 cm (39 3/4 x 31 3/4 x 2 3/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l.l.: L. Lo[ ]o
  • label: verso, on frame, typed text: FOORD & DICKINSON , / Carvers & Gilders, / 90, Wardour Street, W. / DRAWINGS MOUNTED. / CLEANED AND RESTORED
  • label: verso, on frame, cream with red border, handwritten text: R239
  • label: verso, on frame, cream with red border, handwritten text: X942A
  • label: verso, on frame, cream, printed in black ink: FOGG / Art Museum / LOAN / 306.1931 [handwritten, black ink]
  • label: verso, on frame, cream, printed in black ink: FOGG / Art Museum / LOAN / 262.1929 [handwritten, black ink]
  • label: verso, on frame, cream, printed in black ink: FOGG / Art Museum/ LOAN / 153.1930 [handwritten, black ink]
  • inscription: verso, on frame, white chalk: [illeg. text]
  • label: verso, on stretcher, printed in black ink: N. B. - This label to be affixed to the back of the frame (not the canvas [illeg.] ture. / ROYAL ACADEMY EXHIBITION OF WORKS BY THE OLD MASTERS, 18 [printed] 96 [handwritten] / Name of Artist [printed] Tintoretto [handwritten] / Title of Work [printed] / (Please correct if not properly given.) / Name and Address of Owner [printed] John Ruskin Esq. [handwritten] / B [illeg. text] [handwritten]
  • label: verso, on stretcher, serrated edges: No. 24[illeg.] / PICTURE
  • label: verso, on stretcher, serrated edges: No. [illeg.] / [illeg.]
  • label: verso, on stretcher, serrated edges: No. [illeg.] / PICTURE
  • label: verso, on strecher, serrated edges: No. 30184 / PICTURE
  • label: verso, on stretcher: MOSTRA DI LORENZO LOTTO [printed] / 83 [handwritten, black ink, underlined] ORHGANIZZATA DAI [printed] / COMUNE DI VENEZIA [printed] / PALAZZO DUCALE - GUGNO - OTTOBRE 1953 [printed] / Opera n. [printed] 803 [hanwritten, black ink] / Titolo [printed] S. Pietro Martore [handwritten] / Proprietà [printed] Fogg Museum - Nerr. J [handwritten]
  • label: verso, stretcher, cream label with white border, handwritten text: X1482A
  • inscription: verso, on stretcher, printed: 1 e / MERCI / DOGANA ITALIANA [around a seal] / VISITATE / 9908 [crossed through with blue ball point pen]
  • inscription: verso, on stretcher, on tape?, handwritten, black marker: 43


Recorded Ownership History
Charles Fairfax Murray Collection, London, sold; to Edward Waldo Forbes, 1906, loaned; to Fogg Art Museum, gift; to Fogg Art Museum in 1964.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Edward W. Forbes in memory of Alice F. Cary
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • Libro dei Conti di Lorenzo Lotto, Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione (Rome, 1894), p. 127, 133
  • Reports of Art Museums and Societies, American Art Annual, ed. Florence N. Levy (1907-1908), Vol. VI, p.143
  • [unknown title], Deutsche Litteraturzeitung (February 27, 1909), No. 9, p. 38
  • Collection of Mediaeval and Renaissance Paintings, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1919), pp. 226-228, repr.
  • Ella S. Siple, The Fogg Museum at Harvard, The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs (June 1927), Vol. 50, No. 291, p. 310, repr. as plate IIB
  • Bernard Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: a list of the principal artists and their works, with an index of places, The Clarendon Press (Oxford, England, 1932), p. 308
  • Lionello Venturi, Italian Paintings in America, E. Weyhe Gallery (New York, NY, 1933), Vol. III, repr., plate 531
  • Venetian Paintings of the 15th and 16th Centuries, exh. cat., M. Knoedler & Co. (New York, 1938), p. 21, cat. no. 9, repr.
  • Anna Banti and Antonio Boschetto, Lorenzo Lotto, Casa Editrice G. C. Sansoni (Florence, 1953), p. 93 as no. 136, repr. as fig. 248
  • Edward A. Maser, Thirtieth Anniversary Celebration: Masterworks from University and College Art Collections, exh. cat., University of Kansas Museum of Art (Lawrence, KS, 1958), no. 45
  • Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture from the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, exh. cat., Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, 1967)
  • The Italian Heritage, exh. cat., Wildenstein Gallery, New York (New York, 1967), cat. no. 23, repr.
  • Edward Waldo Forbes, Yankee Visionary, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1971), p. 32, repr. in b/w p. 33
  • Sydney J. Freedberg, Painting in Italy 1500-1600, Penguin Books (Harmondsworth, 1971), p. 207
  • Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1972), p. 112
  • Sydney J. Freedberg, "Lorenzo Lotto to Nicolas Poussin", Apollo (May 1978), vol. 107, no. 195, pp. 389-397, p. 389, repr. p. 389 as fig. 1
  • Flavio Caroli, Lorenzo Lotto e la nascita della psicologia moderna, Gruppo Editoriale Fabbri (Milan, 1980), pp. 242-43
  • Jan van der Marck, In Quest of Excellence: Civic Pride, Patronage, Connoisseurship, exh. cat., Center for Fine Arts, Miami (Miami, Florida, 1984), p. 52 and p. 238 as cat. no. 36
  • David McTavish, Italian Drawings from the Collection of Duke Roberto Ferretti, exh. cat., Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto, Canada, 1985), p. II (introduction)
  • Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), no. 176, p. 155, repr.
  • Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 45, color plate; pp. 117, 333, repr. b/w cat. no. 683
  • Jacques Bonnet, Lorenzo Lotto, Editions Adam Biro (France, 1997), cat. no. 130, p. 170, repr. 112
  • Masterpieces of world art : Fogg Art Museum, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1997
  • Costanza Costanzi, Le Marche Disperse: Repertorio di Opere d'arte dalle Marche al Mondo, Silvana Editoriale (Milan, Italy, 2005), p. 33, no. 15 p. 109, repr.; repr. in color as tav. 7
  • Stephan Wolohojian and Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, ed. Stephan Wolohojian, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, 2008), p. 79, repr.
  • Francesca Bewer, A Laboratory for Art: Harvard's Fogg Museum and the Emergence of Conservation in America, 1900-1950, Harvard Art Museum and Yale University Press (U.S.) (Cambridge, MA, 2010), p. 46-47, fig. 1.9
  • Giovanni Carlo Federico Villa, ed., Lorenzo Lotto, exh. cat., Silvana Editoriale (Cinisello Balsamo (Milan), 2011), repr. on p. 203 as fig. 8
  • Enrico Maria Dal Pozzolo and Miguel Falomir, ed., Lorenzo Lotto Portraits, exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado (Madrid, 2018), cat. no. 45, repr.; pp. 60, 66, 93, 329, fig. 45.1 (x-radiograph)
  • Enrico Maria Dal Pozzolo, ed., Los retratos de Lorenzo Lotto: Actas del Congreso Internacional/Proceedings of the International Symposium, Museo Nacional del Prado, Septiembre de 2018, Museo Nacional del Prado (Madrid, 2022), pp. 108-109, 131-132 repr. as fig. 3 on p. 109, fig. 6 on p. 131 [detail]

Exhibition History

  • Venetian Paintings of the 15th and 16th Centuries, M. Knoedler & Co., 04/11/1938 - 04/30/1938; California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 06/25/1938 - 07/24/1938
  • Four Centuries of Venetian Painting, Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, 03/01/1940 - 03/31/1940
  • Masterworks from University and College Art Collections, University of Kansas Museum of Art, Lawrence, 02/22/1958 - 03/30/1958
  • The Italian Heritage, Wildenstein Gallery, New York, 05/17/1967 - 08/31/1967
  • Paintings, Drawings, Sculpture from the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, 10/12/1967 - 12/03/1967
  • Edward Waldo Forbes: Yankee Visionary, Fogg Art Museum, 01/16/1971 - 02/22/1971
  • Master Paintings from the Fogg Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/13/1977 - 08/31/1977
  • Re-View: S422-423 Western Art of the Middle Ages & Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/16/2008 - 06/18/2011
  • 32Q: 2540 Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 02/14/2018; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 03/13/2019 - 03/02/2023; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/23/2023 - 01/01/2050
  • Lorenzo Lotto Portraits / Lorenzo Lotto Retratos, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 06/19/2018 - 09/30/2018; National Gallery, London, 11/05/2018 - 02/10/2019

Subjects and Contexts

  • Collection Highlights
  • Google Art Project

Related Works

Verification Level

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