607. Venice
Some periods are just better than others. 16th c. Venice – with Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese and Lotto – is one. The next gallery – 16th c. Northern Italy – is not.
Best: Paolo Veronese, Mars and Venus United by Love (1570s). A topflight work (along with its companions at the Frick) by a consummate artist: the composition is full, not crowded; figures are lusciously rounded; poses alive and real, not contorted; and Mars’s robe glows with the trademarked Venetian mauve. Every inch is delectable.
Worst: Jacopo Tintoretto, The Finding of Moses (?) As Veronese is underrated, so is Tintoretto overrated. Here, his famously sketchy style is a distraction: mysterious ghostlike figures in the background; underpaint showing through; unappealing blurred faces; and a stringy, unfinished white cloth dead center. (In Tintoretto’s defense, the label suggests the painting may be by his son – but then, why hang it?)

608. Northern Italy
Best: Giavanni Battista Moroni, Bartolommeo Bonghi (1553?). Moroni is a personal favorite for his recognizable portraits of 16th-century professionals in Bergamo, set against a plain background with often, as here, a corner of landscape visible through a window. Sr. Bonghi has a great beard matched by the rich fur of his cloak.
Worst: Moretto da Brescia, Christ in the Wilderness (c.1520). A silly picture. A fragment and early in the artist’s career, but still…

609. High Renaissance
Best: Bronzino, Portrait of a Young Man (1530s). So simple, so bold. I’ve admired this for years but just now noticed the sliver of wood door on the far right (so Hammershoi!) that balances the grape-colored table on the left.
Worst: Perino del Vaga, The Holy Family with St. John (c.1526). The sharp line of Mary’s face is disturbing; the bizarre topknot and blank face of Joseph looking where? doesn’t help; the unaccountable shadow on St. John obscures and makes him look like a Moor.