Caravaggio and the Painters of the North
From 21 June to 18 September 2016
Little information is known regarding Vittore Carpaccio’s training as a painter or his early works. It is assumed that he trained in Venice in the circle of the Bellini, although recent studies have suggested that he studied with Lazzaro Bastiani. Carpaccio ran a prestigious workshop in which his sons Pietro and Benedetto were employed as painters. His work reveals the influence of Antonello da Messina, Giovanni Bellini and Ferrarese painting. Carpaccio’s fame was fully established with his large cycles painted for Venetian scuole and confraternities. The first of these, dated between 1490–94 (Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice), was painted for the Scuola de Sant’Orsola, and depicts scenes from the life of that saint. It consists of eight large-format canvases that reveal typical features of Carpaccio’s style such as his taste for detail and anecdotal incident, integrated into the narrative in a natural manner. One canvas from this series, depicting The Arrival of Saint Ursula in Cologne, is his first signed and dated work (1490). The second major commission among his decorative cycles was the one for the Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista, for which the artist painted The Miracle of the Relic of the True Cross (Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice). Between 1502 and 1508 Carpaccio worked in San Giorgio degli Schiavone, illustrating The Lives ofSaint George and Saint Jerome (in situ). Among his last cycles of 1511 to 1520 was that of Saint Stephen, now divided between various museums and collections. Carpaccio was a pioneer in the use of canvas as a support forpainting and used it both in his narrative cycles and altarpieces. With the dawn of the new century his work became somewhat outdated as a consequence of the innovations introduced in Venice by Giorgione and Titian. Among Carpaccio’s easel paintings is The Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist (Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt), The Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice), Saint Thomas Aquinus enthroned (Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart), and the famous Two Venetian Women (Museo Correr, Venice). Carpaccio was also celebrated as a portraitist beyond the confines of Venice, receiving commissions from the leading families of Italy.