Bartolomeo Vivarini Italy

1432 Venice, ITA - 1499 Venice, ITA

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Bartolomeo Vivarini learned oil painting from Antonello da Messina, and is said to have produced, in 1473, the first oil picture done in Venice. Housed in the basilica of San Zanipolo, it is a large altar-piece in nine divisions, representing Augustine and other saints. Most of his works, however, are in tempera. His outline is always hard, and his colour good; the figures have much dignified and devout expression.

Not surprisingly, Bartolomeo Vivarini's earliest paintings closely resemble Antonio's, but soon mid-century Paduan art influenced his work. By the mid 1460s Bartolomeo was executing paintings similar to those of his contemporaries Carlo Crivelli, Marco Zoppo, and Giorgio Schiavone. Like theirs, his works were extremely linear, with hard surfaces; sculpturesque forms; and decorative schemes incorporating putti, swags of fruit and vegetation, and classical architectural elements.

In the 1470s Bartolomeo Vivarini began to synthesize his own Paduan linearism and jewel-like Gothic colors with Bellinesque simplified formats, soft modeling, and light effects.

This style, superficially up-to-date but fundamentally archaic, won him great success; he maintained a large and productive studio and received many important commissions in Venice and the provinces. But since Bartolomeo Vivarini never developed artistically beyond this point, his works gradually lapsed into routine and formula, and his popularity waned. The artist's last firmly dated work is from 1491, although there is some evidence that the Death of the Virgin in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, once bore a date of 1499.

Art Movement: Renaissance
Influences: Antonello da Messina

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