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Bernardino Luini (c. 1480/82 - June 1532) was a North Italian painter from Leonardo's circle during the High Renaissance. Both Luini and Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio were said to have worked with Leonardo directly; he was described as having taken "as much from Leonardo as his native roots enabled him to comprehend". Consequently, many of his works were attributed to Leonardo. He was known especially for his graceful female figures with elongated eyes, called Luinesque by Vladimir Nabokov.
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. 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.
In 1521 he travelled to Rome, where he was influenced by Raphael's style. This is evident in Luini's subsequent frescoes in the Villa La Pelucca executed between 1520 and 1523, as well as in other works now at the Brera. In 1523, Luini painted a polyptych depicting the Enthroned Madonna and Child surrounded by Angels with Musical Instruments, and surmounted by God the Father, found in the Basilica of San Magno, Legnano.
Around 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; the fresco in the counterfaçade of Sant'Abbondio in Como was painted the same year. According to legend, he instigated the discovery of amaretto while at Saronno. 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 a Lady in the National Gallery of Art. A Virgin with Child and Saints from 1526 is 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 with other works in the same church. In 1531 he returned to the Saronno sanctuary to complete other frescoes. Later in his career, Luini was increasingly influenced by Leonardo da Vinci, as shown by the St. Anne in the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana and the St. Catherine in the Hermitage.
He died in Milan. His son Aurelio was also an accomplished painter.
At least one prominent art scholar believes that the Salvator Mundi was not painted by Leonardo but mostly by assistants such as Luini; art historian Matthew Landrus maintained that the master was responsible for only about five to 20% of the work and that Luini was the "primary painter".
Workshop of Bernardino Luini: Madonna and Child Enthroned with Angels, Brooklyn Museum
Madonna col bambino e san Giovannino, Lichtenstein Museum
San Sebastiano, the Borromeo collection at Isola Bella
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)
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.