On a drawing for the painting St. Augustine in his study  c. 1502. Scuola di S Giorgio degli 
Schiavoni, Venice (painting).

LINK TO BIB

Life of VITTORE CARPACCIO (1455-1523/26)
and of other Venetian and Lombard Painters
 
Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists



IT IS VERY WELL KNOWN that when some of our craftsmen make a beginning in some province, they are afterwards followed by many, one after another; and very often there is an infinite number of them at one and the same time, for the reason that rivalry, emulation, and the fact that they have been dependent on others, one on one excellent master, and one on another, bring it about that the craftsmen seek with all the greater effort to surpass one another, to the utmost of their ability. And even when many depend on one, no sooner do they separate, either at the death of their master or for some other reason, than they straightway also separate in aim ; whereupon each seeks to prove his own worth, in order to appear better than the rest and a master by himself.

Of many, then, who flourished almost at one and the same time and in one and the same province, and about whom I have not been able to learn and am not able to write every particular, I will give some brief account, to the end that, now that I find myself at the end of the Second Part of this my work, I may not omit some who have labored to leave the world adorned by their works. Of these men, I say, besides having been unable to discover their whole history, I have not even been able to find the portraits, excepting that of Scarpaccia, whom for this reason I have made head of the others. Let my readers therefore accept what I can offer in this connection, seeing that I cannot offer what I would wish. There lived, then, in the March of Treviso and in Lombardy, during a period of many years, Stefano Veronese, Aldigieri da Zevio, Jacopo Davanzo of Bologna, Sebeto da Verona, Jacobello de Flore, Guerriero da Padova, Giusto, Girolamo Campagnola and his son Giulio, and Vincenzio Bresciano; Vittore, Sebastiano,* and Lazzaro * Scarpaccia [It is now generally accepted that these two men are one, under the name of Lazzaro Bastiani], Venetians; Vincenzio Catena, Luigi Vivarini, Giovan Battista da Conigliano, Marco Basarini, Giovanetto Cordegliaghi, II Bassiti, Bartolommeo Vivarini, Giovanni Mansueti, Vittore Bellini, Bartolommeo Montagna of Vicenza, Benedetto Diana, and Giovanni Buonconsigli, with many others, of whom there is no need to make mention here.

To begin with the first, I start by saying that Stefano Veronese, of whom I gave some account in the Life of Agnolo Gaddi, was a painter more than passing good in his day. And when Donatello was working in Padua, as has been already told in his Life, going on one of several occasions to Verona, he was struck with marvel at the works of Stefano, declaring that the pictures which he had made in fresco were the best that had been wrought in those parts up to that time. The first works of this man were in the tramezzo of the Church of S. Antonio at Verona, at the top of a wall on the left, below the curve of a part of the vaulting; and the subjects were a Madonna with the Child in her arms, and S. James and S. Anthony, one on either side of her. This work is held very beautiful in that city even at the present day, by reason of a certain liveliness that is seen in the said figures, particularly in the heads, which are wrought with much grace. In S. Niccolo, a parish church of that city, likewise, he painted a S. Nicholas in fresco, which is very beautiful. On the front of a house in the Via di S. Polo, which leads to the Porta del Vescovo, he painted the Virgin, with certain very beautiful angels and a S. Christopher; and over the wall of the Church of S. Consolata in the Via del Duomo, in a recess made in the wall, he painted a Madonna and certain birds, in particular a peacock, his emblem. In S. Eufemia, a convent of the Eremite Friars of S. Augustine, he painted over the side door a S. Augustine with two other saints, and under the mantle of this S. Augustine are many friars and nuns of his Order; but the most beautiful things in this work are two half-length prophets of the size of life, for the reason that they have the most beautiful and most lifelike heads that Stefano ever made; and the coloring of the whole work, having been executed with diligence, has remained beautiful even to our own day, notwithstanding that it has been much exposed to rain, wind, and frost. If this work had been under cover, it would still be as beautiful and fresh as it issued from his hands, for the reason that Stefano did not retouch it on the dry, but used diligence in executing it well in fresco; as it is, it has suffered a little.

Within the church, in the Chapel of the Sacrament namely, round the Tabernacle he afterwards painted certain angels flying, some of whom are sounding instruments, some singing, and others burning incense before the Sacrament; together with a figure of Jesus Christ, which he painted at the top as a finish to the Tabernacle. Below there are other angels, who are supporting Him, clothed in white garments reaching to their feet, and ending, as it were, in clouds, which was an idea peculiar to Stefano in painting figures of angels, whom he always made most gracious in countenance and very beautiful in expression. In this same work are lifesize figures of S. Augustine and S. Jerome, one on either side; and these are supporting with their hands the Church of God, as if to show that both of them defend Holy Church from heretics with their learning, and support her. On a pilaster of the principal chapel in the same church he painted a S. Eufemia in fresco, with a beautiful and gracious expression of countenance; and there he wrote his own name in letters of gold, perchance since it appeared to him to be, as in fact it is, one of the best pictures that he had made; and according to his custom he painted there a very beautiful peacock, and beside it two lion cubs, which are not very beautiful, because at that time he could not see live ones, as he saw the peacock. He also painted for the same place a panel containing, as was the custom in those times, many half-length figures, such as S. Niccola da Tolentino and others; and he filled the predella with scenes in little figures from the life of that Saint. In S. Fermo, a church in the same city belonging to the Friars of S. Francis, he painted, as an ornament for a Deposition from the Cross on the wall opposite to the side door of entrance, twelve half-length prophets of the size of life, with Adam and Eve lying below them, and his usual peacock, which is almost the hallmark of pictures executed by him.

In Mantua, at the Martello gate of the Church of S. Domenico, the same Stefano painted a most beautiful Madonna; the head of which Madonna, when they had need to build in that place, those fathers placed with care in the tramezzo of the church that is, in the Chapel of S. Orsola, which belongs to the Recuperati family, and contains some pictures in fresco by the hand of the same man. And in the Church of S. Francesco, on the right hand as one enters by the principal door, there is a row of chapels formerly built by the noble Della Ramma family, in one of which are seated figures of the four Evangelists, painted on the vaulting by the hand of Stefano; and behind their shoulders, for a background, he made certain espaliers of roses, with a cane trellis-work in a pattern of mandorle, above which are various trees and other greenery full of birds, particularly of peacocks; and there are also some very beautiful angels. In this same church, on a column on the right hand as one enters, he painted a lifesize figure of S. Mary Magdalene. And in the same city, on the frontal of a door in the street called Rompilanza, he painted in fresco a Madonna with the Child in her arms, and some angels kneeling before her; and the background he made of trees covered with fruit.

These, then, are the works that are found to have been executed by Stefano, although it may well be believed, since his life was not a short one, that he made many others. But even as I have not been able to discover any more of them, so I have failed to find his surname, his father's name, his portrait, or any other particulars. Some declare that before he came to Florence he was a disciple of Maestro Liberale, a painter of Verona; but this matters nothing. It is enough that he learnt all that there was of the good in him from Agnolo Gaddi in Florence.

Of the same city of Verona was Aldigieri da Zevio, who was very much the friend of the Signori della Scala, and who, besides many other works, painted the Great Hall of their Palace (which is now the habitation of the Podesta), depicting therein the War of Jerusalem, according as it is described by Josephus. In this work Aldigieri showed great spirit and judgment, distributing one scene over the walls of that hall on every side, with a single ornament encircling it right round; on the upper part of which ornament, as it were to set it off, he placed a row of medallions, in which it is believed that there are the portraits from life of many distinguished men of those times, particularly of many of those Signori della Scala ; but, since the truth about this is not known, I will say no more of it. I must say, indeed, that Aldigieri showed in this work that he had intelligence, judgment, and invention, seeing that he took into consideration all the things that can be taken into consideration in a serious war. Besides this, the coloring has remained very fresh; and among many portraits 01 men of distinction and learning, there is seen that of Messer Francesco Petrarca.

Jacopo Avanzi, a painter of Bologna, shared the work of this hall with Aldigieri, and below the aforesaid pictures he painted two most beautiful Triumphs, likewise in fresco, with so much art and so good a manner, that Girolamo Campagnola declares that Mantegna used to praise them as pictures of the rarest merit. The same Jacopo, together with Aldigieri and Sebeto da Verona, painted the Chapel of S. Giorgio, which is beside the Church of S. Antonio, in Padua, according to the directions left in the testaments of the Marquesses of Carrara. Jacopo Avanzi painted the upper part; below this were certain stories of S. Lucia, with a Last Supper, by Aldigieri; and Sebeto painted stories of S. John. Afterwards these three masters, having all returned to Verona, joined together to paint a wedding feast, with many portraits and costumes of those times, in the house of the Counts Serenghi. Now the work of Jacopo Avanzi was held to be the best of all; but, since mention has been made of him in the Life of Niccolo d' Arezzo by reason of the works that he made in Bologna in competition with the painters Simone, Cristofano, and Galasso, I will say no more about him in this place.

A man who was held in esteem at Venice about the same time, although he adhered to the Greek manner, was Jacobello de Flore, who made a number of works in that city; in particular, a panel for the Nuns of the Corpus Domini, which stands on the altar of S. Domenico in their church. A competitor of this master was Giromin Morzone, who painted a number of pictures in Venice and in many cities of Lombardy; but, since he held to the old manner and made all his figures on tip-toe, we will say nothing about him, save that there is a panel by his hand, with many saints, on the Altar of the Assumption in the Church of S. Lena.

A much better master than Morzone was Guerriero, a painter of Padua, who, besides many other works, painted the principal chapel of the Eremite Friars of S. Augustine in Padua, and a chapel for the same friars in the first cloister. He also painted a little chapel in the house of the Urban Prefect, and the Hall of the Roman Emperors, where the students go to dance at the time of the Carnival. He also painted in fresco, in the Chapel of the Podesta of the same city, some scenes from the Old Testament.

Giusto, likewise a painter of Padua, painted in the Chapel of S. Giovanni Battista, without the Church of the Vescovado, not only certain scenes from the Old Testament and the New, but also the Revelations of the Apocalypse of S. John the Evangelist; and in the upper part he made a Paradise containing many choirs of angels and other adornments, wrought with beautiful conceptions. In the Church of S. Antonio he painted in fresco the Chapel of S. Luca; and in a chapel in the Church of the Eremite Friars of S. Augustine he painted the liberal arts, with the virtues and vices beside them, and likewise those who have been celebrated for their virtues, and those who have fallen by reason of their vices into the extreme of misery and into the lowest depth of Hell.

There was working in Padua, in this man's time, Stefano, a painter of Ferrara, who, as has been said elsewhere, adorned with various pictures the chapel and the tomb wherein is the body of S. Anthony, and also painted the Virgin Mary that is called the Vergine del Pilastro. Another man who was held in esteem in the same times was Vincenzio, a painter of Brescia, according to the account of Filarete} as was also Girolamo Campagnola, another Paduan painter, and a disciple of Squarcione. Then Giulio, son of Girolamo, made many beautiful works of painting, illumination, and copper-engraving, both in Padua and in other places. In the same city of Padua many things were wrought by Niccolo Moreto, who lived eighty years, and never ceased to exercise his art.

Besides these there were many others, who were connected with Gentile and Giovanni Bellini; but Vittore Scarpaccia [Carpaccio] was truly the first among them who made works of importance. His first works were in the Scuola of S. Orsola, where he painted on canvas the greater part of the stories that are there, representing the life and death of that Saint; the labors of which pictures he contrived to carry out so well and with such great diligence and art, that he acquired thereby the name of a very good and practised master. This, so it is said, was the reason that the people of Milan caused him to paint a panel in distemper with many figures for the Friars Minor, in their Chapel of S. Ambrogio. On the altar of the Risen Christ in the Church of S. Antonio he painted the scene of Christ appearing to the Magdalene and the other Maries, in which he made a very beautiful view in perspective of a landscape receding into the distance; and in another chapel he painted the story of the Martyrs that is, their crucifixion in which work he made more than three hundred figures, what with the large and the small, besides a number of horses and trees, an open Heaven, figures both nude and clothed in diverse attitudes, many foreshortenings, and so many other things, that it can be seen that he did not execute it without extraordinary labor.

For the altar of the Madonna, in the Church of S. Giobbe in Canareio, he painted her presenting the Infant Christ to Simeon, and depicted the Madonna herself standing, and Simeon in his cope between two ministers clothed as Cardinals; behind the Virgin are two women, one of whom has two doves, and below are three boys, who are playing on a lute, a serpent, and a lyre, or rather a viol; and the coloring of the whole panel is very charming and beautiful. And, in truth, Vittore was a very diligent and practised master, and many pictures by his hand that are in Venice, both portraits from life and other kinds, are much esteemed for works wrought in those times. He taught his art to two brothers of his own, who imitated him closely, one being Lazzaro, and the other Sebastiano: and by their hand is a panel on the altar of the Virgin in the Church of the Nuns of the Corpus Domini, showing her seated between S. Catherine and S. Martha, with other female saints, two angels who are sounding instruments, and a very beautiful view of buildings in perspective as a background to the whole work, of which we have the original drawings, by the hand of these men, in our book.

Another passing good painter in the time of these masters was Vincenzio Catena, who occupied himself much more with making portraits from the life than with any other sort of painting; and, in truth, some that are to be seen by his hand are marvellous among others, that of a German of the Fugger family, a man of rank and importance, who was then living in the Fondaco de' Tedeschi at Venice, was painted with great vivacity.

Another man who made many works in Venice, about the same time, was a disciple of Giovanni Bellini, Giovan Battista da Conigliano, by whose hand is a panel on the altar of S. Pietro Martire in the aforesaid Church of the Nuns of the Corpus Domini, containing the said Saint, S. Nicholas, and S. Benedict, with landscapes in perspective, an angel tuning a cithern, and many little figures more than passing good. And if this man had not died young, it may be believed that he would have equalled his master.

The name of a master not otherwise than good, likewise, in the same art and at the same time, was enjoyed by Marco Basarini, who, painting in Venice, where he was born from a Greek father and mother, executed in S. Francesco della Vigna a panel with a Deposition of Christ from the Cross, and another panel in the Church of S. Giobbe, representing Christ in the Garden, and below Him the three Apostles, who are sleeping, and S. Francis, S. Dominic, and two other saints; but what was most praised in this work was a landscape with many little figures wrought with good grace. In that same church the same Marco painted S. Bernardino on a rock, with other saints.

Giovanetto Cordegliaghi made an infinity of devotional pictures in the same city; nay, he scarcely worked at anything else, and, in truth, he had in this sort of painting a very delicate and sweet manner, no little better than that of the aforesaid masters. In S. Pantaleone, in a chapel beside the principal one, this man painted S. Peter making disputation with two other saints, who are wearing most beautiful draperies, and are wrought with a beautiful manner.

Marco Bassiti was in good repute almost at the same time, and by his hand is a large panel in the Church of the Carthusian Monks at Venice, in which he painted Christ between Peter and Andrew on the Sea of Tiberias, with the sons of Zebedee; making therein an arm of the sea, a mountain, and part of a city, with many persons in the form of little figures. Many other works by this man could be enumerated, but let it be enough to have spoken of this one, which is the best.

Bartolommeo Vivarini of Murano also acquitted himself very well in the works that he made, as may be seen, besides many other examples, in the panel that he executed for the altar of S. Luigi in the Church of SS. Giovanni e Polo; in which panel he portrayed the said S. Luigi seated, wearing the cope, with S. Gregory, S. Sebastian, and S. Dominic on one side of him, and on the other side S. Nicholas, S. Jerome, and S. Rocco, and above them half-length figures of other saints.

Another man who executed his pictures very well, taking much delight in counterfeiting things of nature, figures, and distant landscapes, was Giovanni Mansueti, who, imitating the works of Gentile Bellini not a little, made many pictures in Venice. At the upper end of the Audience Chamber of the Scuola of S. Marco he painted a S. Mark preaching on the Piazza; in which picture he painted the facade of the church, and, among the multitude of men and women who are listening to the Saint, Turks, Greeks, and the faces of men of diverse nations, with bizarre costumes. In the same place, in another scene wherein he painted S. Mark healing a sick man, he made a perspective view of two staircases and many loggie. In another picture, near to that one, he made a S. Mark converting an infinite multitude to the faith of Christ; in this he made an open temple, with a Crucifix on an altar, and through- out the whole work there are diverse persons with a beautiful variety of expression, dress, and features.

The work in the same place was continued after him by Vittore Bellini, who made a view of buildings in perspective, which is passing good, in a scene wherein S. Mark is taken prisoner and bound, with a number of figures, in which he imitated his predecessors. After these men came Bartolommeo Montagna of Vicenza, a passing good painter, who lived ever in Venice and made many pictures there; and he painted a panel in the Church of S. Maria d' Art one at Padua. Benedetto Diana, likewise, was a painter no less esteemed than the masters mentioned above, as is proved, to say nothing of his other works, by those from his hand that are in S. Francesco della Vigna at Venice, where, for the altar of S. Giovanni, he painted that Saint standing between two other saints, each of whom has a book in his hand.

Another man who was accounted a good master was Giovanni Buonconsigli, who painted a picture in the Church of SS. Giovanni e Polo for the altar of S. Tommaso d' Aquino, showing that Saint surrounded by many figures, to whom he is reading the Holy Scriptures; and he made therein a perspective view of buildings, which is not otherwise than worthy of praise. There also lived in Venice throughout almost the whole course of his life the Florentine sculptor, Simon Bianco, as did Tullio Lombardo, an excellent master of intaglio.

In Lombardy, likewise, there were excellent sculptors in Bartolommeo Clemente of Reggio and Agostino Busto; and, in intaglio, Jacopo Davanzo of Milan, with Gasparo and Girolamo Misceroni. In Brescia there was a man who was able and masterly at working in fresco, called Vincenzio Verchio, who acquired a very great name in his native place by reason of his beautiful works. The same did Girolamo Romanino, a fine master of design, as is clearly demonstrated by the works made by him in Brescia and in the neighbourhood for many miles around. And not inferior to these nay, even superior was Alessandro Moretto, who was very delicate in his coloring, and much the friend of diligence, as the works made by him demonstrate.

But to return to Verona, in which city there have flourished excellent craftsmen, even as they flourish more than ever today; there, in times past, were excellent masters in Francesco Bonsignori and Francesco Caroto, and afterwards Maestro Zeno of Verona, who painted the panel of S. Marino in Rimini, with two others, all with much diligence. But the man who surpassed all others in making certain marvellous figures from life was II Moro of Verona, or rather, as others called him, Francesco Turbido, by whose hand is a portrait now in the house of Monsignor de' Martini at Venice, of a gentleman of the house of Badovaro, painted in the character of a shepherd; which portrait appears absolutely alive, and can challenge comparison with any of the great number that have been seen in these parts. Battista d' Angelo, son-in-law of this Francesco, is also so lovely in coloring and so masterly in drawing, that he is rather superior than inferior to his father-in-law. But since it is not my intention to speak at present of the living, it must suffice me to have spoken in this place of some with regard to whose lives, as I said at the beginning of this Life, I have not been able to discover every particular with equal minuteness, to the end that their talents and merits may receive from me at least all that little which I, who would fain make it much, am able to give them.



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