Carpaccio by Vittorio Sgarbi

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The art and life of the most magnificent Venetian painter of his time are brought to light in a definitive monograph.

Vittorio Sgarbi, one of Italy's most famous contemporary art scholars, explores the life and times of Vittore Carpaccio (1460?-1525/6), the most spectacular Venetian painter of his time.

Carpaccio is best known for his brilliant cycles of large paintings which are still in their original sites in Venice: the life of Saint Ursula in the Scuola di Sant'Orsola, and the stories of Saint Jerome and Saint George in the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni. At the end of the fifteenth century many new building and decorating projects were launched in Venice, creating such demand for artworks that Carpaccio and other local painters were rarely able to work elsewhere. In his time Carpaccio was considered the most skilled and independent of the artists of the generation following Bellini, and he, in turn, influenced such younger painters as Titian and Sebastiano del Piombo. Mixing scenes of the Venice he knew so well with imagined compositions of Jerusalem and other distant places, he created fanciful Renaissance cityscapes as a setting for mythological tales, religious icons, and meticulous reportage of the local events that he witnessed.

This definitive monograph is presented in three parts: an opening essay describes the painter in relation to history and art history, emphasizing Carpaccio's innovations while also noting similarities with such contemporary masters as Bellini and Giorgione. The second part of the book includes forty important paintings in large-format reproductions with annotated essays focusing on each work. The final section is acatalogue raisonne of all of the artist's known works. Complete, colorful, and eloquently written, this overview of Carpaccio's life and art will become a standard reference for art historians and the general reader.

Other Details: 250 illustrations, 120 in full color 272 pages 11 x 11" Published 1995

it all responsibility for the ill-fated events that had befallen the Venetian Republic-thereby aligning himself with the conservative party. Even in this difficult situation, the Venetian administration never neglected its responsibilities toward the home front. Local health services were financed, and the operations of the port and lagoon were reinforced. Furthermore, the administration devoted resources to the embellishment of the city itself, undertaking grandiose architectural projects with interiors suitably enriched by superb pictorial and sculptural works.

The decoration of the principal public building, the Doge's Palace, took on special significance as the most important exaltation of the civic glory of Venice and the historical myths it represented. The fresco technique employed at the beginning of the fifteenth century by Gentile da Fabriano and Pisanello had proven inadequate because it was too sensitive to the humidity of the lagoon, so new paintings were to be made on large canvases. Work was entrusted in 1474 to Gentile Bellini, who was joined by his brother Giovanni in 1479. The extraordinary Bellini workshop, the source of outstanding contributions to the history of Venetian narrative painting, was decisive in the formation of Vittore Carpaccio. Following in its wake, Carpaccio worked in the Doge's Palace in 1507, after having given ample proof of his skill in the scuole of Sant'Orsola, San Giovanni Evangelista, San Giorgio, Santo Stefano, and Albanesi. The following year he was named Venice's state painter, officially representing the technical and formal traditions developed by the painters of these commemorative works; and still later, he offered the private patrons of the scuole (confraternities or associations) the same commemorative aesthetic used for the decoration of the Doge's Palace, with the addition of his unique narrative imagination.

Carpaccio did not relinquish this obstinate narrative fidelity even during the years when new trends in painting began to point in a completely different direction, which is to say when heirs of the teachings of Giovanni Bellini appeared on the scene in the Veneto. Giorgione, Lorenzo Lotto, and Titian were these new and difficult intellectuals, authentic nouveaux philosophes who cared less for story than for purely pictorial values.

Venetian Painting in the Late Fifteenth and Early Sixteenth Centuries

The words of Comines in his Memoires remain the clearest literary testament to what Venice looked like in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

I was extremely surprised at the situation of this city, at seeing so many churches, monasteries, and houses, and all in the water; and the people have no other passage up and down the streets but in boats, of which, I believe, there are nearly thirty thousand, but they are very small. Around the city, within less than the compass of half a French league, there are seventy religious houses of both men and women, all situated on little islands, very beautiful and magnificent both in architecture and furnishings, with fair gardens belonging to them; without taking into account those in the city proper, where there are four orders of mendicants, and seventy-two parishes, besides several fraternities; and, indeed, it is most strange to behold so many stately churches in the sea...I was conducted through the principal street, which they call the Grand Canal, and which is very wide. Galleys pass through it; indeed I have seen vessels of four hundred tons or more ride at anchor right next to the houses. It is the fairest and best-built street, I think, in the world, and goes right through the city; the houses are very large and lofty, and built of stone; the old ones are all painted; those of about a hundred years standing are faced with white marble from Istria (which is about a hundred miles from Venice), and inlaid with porphyry and serpentine. Within they have, most of them, two chambers at least adorned with gilt ceilings, rich marble chimneypieces, bedsteads of gold color, their portals of the same, and most gloriously furnished.

Although there is no doubt that Venice's historical decline began with the fall of Constantinople (1453), the city's patronage of the arts was unaffected for many years by that event. Indeed, between the 1460s and the first years of the sixteenth century the policy of withdrawal westward only increased the extraordinary interest that the local ruling class showed for all the forms of decoration that might contribute to clothing the "state on the sea" in adequate finery. In De bene instituta Republica (1497), Domenico Morosini states that Venice's dignity should be measured in terms of the beauty of its palaces, among other things, since only in cities without an empire could homes be humble and unadorned. The unprecedented yearning for magnificence and for the display of luxury manifest in Venice during these years also struck another well-known French visitor, the exiled poet Clement Marot. His judgment is sometimes highly critical, pervaded by a morality that could not accept the stark contrast between the immense wealth of the churches and the pitiful poverty of the churchgoers. As he wrote in his Epistre envoyee de Veneze Madame la Duchesse de Ferrare:

Temples marbrins y font y adorent

Images peinctz qu'a grandsx dispens ilx dorent;

Et ^ leurs piedz, hels, sont gemissans

Les pouvres nuds, palles e languissans

(Marble temples they build, and they adore

Painted images that they gild at great expense;

And at their feet, alas, groan

The poor, naked, pale, and weak)

So great was the demand for works of art during this period that only rarely were Venetian painters able to work elsewhere. Artists working on the Doge's Palace-the republic's most representative civic structure-and for the scuole grandi competed in a kind of virtuous rivalry to contribute the most praiseworthy urban embellishment. By far the most important of the Venetian commissions during this period was for the decoration of the Sala del Maggior Consiglio in the Doge's Palace. Gentile Bellini was selected in 1474 to replace the worn-out frescoes by Guariento (circa 1365); but the project came to involve the leading artists active in the transitional period at the turn of the century: Giovanni Bellini, Alvise Vivarini, Carpaccio, and immediately after him Titian, Pordenone, Tintoretto, and Paolo Veronese.

Unfortunately, the painting cycle in the hall, celebrating Venice's role as mediator in the controversy between Frederick Barbarossa and Pope Alexander III (1177), was destroyed by fire in 1577. The cycle's enormous importance to Venetian painting is indicated by its two major contributions: it initiated the great period of local narrative painting, "invented" by Jacopo and Gentile Bellini in the Scuola Grande di San Marco (1466-67), and it confirmed the official success of the technique of painting in oil on canvas (the famous large-size paintings known as teleri), the most suitable method for the special climatic conditions of the city in the lagoon. According to Vasari, it was Antonello da Messina who introduced oil painting, typical of the Flemish masters of the early fifteenth century, to Venice during his stay in the city in 1475-76. In fact, numerous Flemish works had been in circulation in the city since the middle of the century and had quickly won the admiration of the Bellinis. The earliest certain evidence of the use of the new technique in Venice, still in the form of "tempera oleosa," is the Portrait of Jorg Fugger by Giovanni Bellini (now in the Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena), which dates to 1474, the year in which work commenced in the Sala del Maggior Consiglio. It is therefore plausible that when Gentile and Giovanni Bellini began making the paintings in the Doge's Palace they intended to use oil paint from the very start; evidently its use had already been sufficiently tested for it to be employed in such an important undertaking.

The fact that Antonello may not have brought the technique of oil painting to Venice does not diminish the importance of his brief stay in the city. Other great Renaissance painters (Paolo Uccello, Andrea del Castagno) had visited Venice several years before Antonello, but their presence had had no effect on the traditional Byzantine style preferred by the city's artists, a style represented by the works of Antonio Vivarini and the so-called Murano school. By the time Antonello arrived in the city, the situation had changed considerably since the time when the Tuscan masters were active. Venice had inherited from Padua--where Donatello and Mantegna had worked so brilliantly in the 1440s and 1450s--leadership of the Veneto Renaissance. Jacopo Bellini, father of Gentile and Giovanni and father-in-law of Andrea Mantegna, had had an important position in this succession. Jacopo is famous less for his few surviving paintings than for his notebooks, today preserved in the Louvre and the British Museum. These notebooks constitute an outstanding repertory of Italian figurative art of the fifteenth century, an inexhaustible model of inventive skill and perspective for an entire generation of artists associated with the Bellinis. It must be pointed out, however, that under Jacopo's direction the family workshop dedicated itself not only to the inauguration of the narrative genre, with the lost Lives of the Virgin for the Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista (1465), but also to the renewal of devotional painting, with the four triptychs for Santa Maria della Carit^ (1460D71), thus spreading the teachings of Mantegna and making the ground fertile for Antonello's contribution. Mantegnesque expressionism greatly influenced Bartolomeo Vivarini, and characterized the youthful style of the leading Venetian artist of the fifteenth century, Giovanni Bellini. Far more than his brother Gentile, who early on began specializing in official, commemorative paintings with linear forms and Gothic decoration, Giovanni developed an independent and original voice in which the progressive internalization of emotion is wed to a serene and profoundly religious vision of nature. His Pesaro altarpiece (circa 1475) signals the end of the Mantegna style and indicates a mature acquisition of perspective science; it may in fact prove that Giovanni had direct knowledge of the works of Piero della Francesca. In the Coronation of the Virgin, the symbiosis among man, God, and nature is marvelously represented by the perfect union of architecture and landscape: the result has a formal grace never before achieved by any other Venetian painter. Contact with Antonello--who while in Venice painted the fundamental San Cassiano altarpiece, the triptych of San Giulian (of which only the St. Sebastian in Dresden now remains), and the Pieta with Three Angels now in the Museo Correr, as well as some portraits-only reinforced Giovanni's new course. The lost San Zanipolo altarpiece, set in a wide covered space in the cross vault, must have been a particularly important step in this new direction. The fruit of the relationship between the two great artists is shown in the spectacular San Giobbe altarpiece (circa 1480), in which Giovanni demonstrated a new sense of the softness of shapes, describing them with a highly refined regulation of light and color. As Peter Humfrey says, "paradoxically, there is still an element of the archaic in his art, visible as well in the iconic distancing of the Virgin, which seems to reflect a deep awareness of the Byzantine heredity of Venetian painting. With time, this awareness was to become more pronounced and was expressed in the backgrounds of warm, intense, and saturated color that characterize the artist's later style, after circa 1500." This patina of archaic solemnity can also be seen in the Transfiguration in the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples, in which the hardness in the modeling is compensated by the moving beauty of the surrounding landscape.

Giovanni Bellini's importance was not restricted to paintings of religious subjects. Following the example of Antonello and the Flemish masters, Giovanni revived local portraiture, introducing the psychological introspection that the aristocratic Gentile carefully avoided. In this sense Giovanni marks a stage in the development of the genre from Alvise Vivarini's work to the utterly pictorial creations of Giorgione or Titian. Furthermore, Giovanni (in this case with the assistance of his father and his brother) made a direct contribution to the birth of great Venetian history painting. The Marian cycle for the Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista, mentioned earlier, was made at almost the same time that Jacopo made the first painting of the Life of Christ for the Scuola di San Marco. Between 1466 and 1470, that institution requested a Drowning of the Egyptians and a Jews in the Desert from Gentile, and assigned Giovanni to paint a Universal Flood, a commission he later passed on to Bartolomeo Montagna (1483). The fact that all these works were destroyed in the unfortunate fire of 1485 does not diminish their importance as preparations for the greatest pictorial undertaking in Venice of the century: the decoration of the Sala del Maggior Consiglio, entrusted to Gentile Bellini in 1474. Giovanni began work in the sala in 1479, while his brother was in Constantinople for a short stay, and continued to work there for almost all of the last decade of the fifteenth century; from 1492 onward he made use of a group of skilled assistants including Alvise Vivarini, Cristoforo Caselli, Lattanzio da Rimini, Vincenzo delle Destre, Marco Marziale, and Francesco Bissolo. During the same period, Cima da Conegliano profited from Bellini's forced absence and became the devotional painter most in demand. He faithfully adopted Giovanni's language, adding his own plastic solidity and naturalistic look.

It was during this period that Carpaccio's talent exploded; the most skilled and independent of the artists trained at the "court" of Giovanni, he created the cycle with the stories of St. Ursula, and perhaps other major works as well, in the years 1490D95.

When Albrecht Duerer arrived in Venice in 1494, Giovanni Bellini was unquestionably the city's leading painter; though eleven years later when the German artist expressed that opinion in a famous letter to Willibald Pirkheimer, it was no longer true. The first, brief stay of the many-talented artist from Nuremberg came in a period full of important events. In that same year Perugino arrived in Venice to work on a painting (never completed) in the Doge's Palace. Shortly afterward Gentile Bellini began working on the cycle of the Miracles of the True Cross for the Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista. Gentile's team of assistants included such capable narrative artists as Giovanni Mansueti, Lazzaro Bastiani, Benedetto Diana; by far the most skilled was Vittore Carpaccio. (Perugino also did work for the scuola, work that is, like so much of his Venetian work, lost.) On this occasion, it was Gentile who did his best work. According to Terisio Pignatti:

In all the history of painting of the Western world, we know of no work that offers a better image of the greatness and inimitable beauty of a city than the Procession in St. Mark's (of 1496). Driven by the need to describe everything as faithfully as possibleÑfrom the clothing of the senators and confraternity members to the standards, processional candleholders, the votive baldachins, the reliquaries, the lacy architecture of the Doge's Palace and the gilt weave of the Basilica with its winged angels, spires, turrets, gold mosaics, and red banners-Gentile manages to present at once the true meaning of the square, the meeting place for the people and the doges, and an image of artistic beauty and imperial splendor. Reality and symbol are thus unified in unparalleled synthesis. In the other large painting in the series, the Miracle at San Lorenzo (of 1500), Gentile shows the measure of his personal style, capable of balancing the theatrical demands imposed by fidelity to the narrative with his pictorial acuity for background details. What could be more believable than his Venice of bridges and canals, his architecture of Gothic palaces decorated with marbles and painted in pink bands, his processions of people, his women in lavish costumes at the edge of the water, his gondolas gliding silently around the reliquary, which has fallen in the canal and floats miraculously until the white guard reaches it and grasps it in triumph?

The last collaboration of Giovanni and Gentile Bellini, after Leonardo's brief stay in the city, was the Stories of the Saint in the recently rebuilt Scuola di San Marco, a commission for which the brothers had made themselves available since 1492. By a curious twist of fate, neither of the two completed the work assigned him. Gentile began the Preaching of St. Mark in 1504, leaving it for Giovanni after his death (1507); Giovanni in turn began the Martyrdom of St. Mark in 1515, and it was then continued by Vittore Belliniano in 1516 following Giovanni's death. These works are perfectly composed examples of the official language in which the ruling classes insisted on seeing themselves. Times had changed quickly, however, and those paintings have a fifteenth-century flavor that was already being surpassed.

In fact, the beginning of the sixteenth century saw a sudden acceleration in developments in Venetian painting. The new artistic generation built on the last works by Giovanni, exalting his color values, expressive capacity, tone, and naturalism. The splendid San Zaccaria altarpiece that Giovanni made in 1505 demonstrates his awareness of the changes in progress; the altarpiece is a necessary first step in the move toward greater tonality. Even Duerer provided an incisive contribution in his Feast of the Rose Garlands (1506), offering areas of surprising chromatic intensity and incidentally relocating the religious scene in plein air. Finally, Giorgione completed the Castelfranco altarpiece (before 1507), an authentic manifesto of tonal painting. In comparison, paintings in the more traditional style, well represented by the Santa Cristina al Tiverone altarpiece (circa 1506) by Lorenzo Lotto, appear strident.

The arrival of Giorgione in the forefront of Venetian painting, with the frescoes for the Fondaco dei Tedeschi (1508), which according to Vasari showed the birth of a "modern style," set loose a frenzy of imitation among other young artists that was not dampened even by Giorgione's sudden death in 1510. Carpaccio, too, was an important figure for these new painters. Sebastiano del Piombo, creator of the San Giovanni Crisostomo altarpiece (1510-11), proved himself the most sensitive disseminator of the pictorial vision introduced by Giorgione. Then, after Sebastiano's hasty departure for Rome, that vision was reaffirmed by Palma Vecchio; but it really exploded with all its force in the genius of Titian, who had worked with Giorgione in the Fondaco dei Tedeschi. For Titian, too, Carpaccio's inventiveness was a decisive factor in his first pictorial creations. Titian's style, revealed in 1511 in the three frescoes in the Scuola del Santo in Padua, exaggerated the chromatic sensibility of Giorgione and joined to it a triumphant vitality. The success of the Assumption for the Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (1518) and of the Pesaro altar (1519) indicates the definitive break between the Venetian painting of the fifteenth century and the sixteenth. A decade earlier the conservative Lotto, overwhelmed by this new style, had been forced to work far from Venice, returning home only for brief visits. Among the older painters only the tireless Giovanni Bellini, in a fit of generous courage when he was already near death, dared compete with the pagan force of Titian in his beautiful Feast of the Gods for Alfonso I d'Este (1514).

From Chapter Two, The Art of Carpaccio:


A son of Pietro, a dealer in furs and hides, Vittore Carpaccio was probably born around 1460. In 1472 he was named among the heirs of his uncle Zuane (Giovanni), a Franciscan friar with the name of Ilario in the Paduan convent of Sant'Orsola. According to Vecellio (Degli habiti antichi et moderni di tutto il mondo, Venice, 1590), "Vittore Scarpe, industrious painter," accompanied Gentile Bellini to Constantinople in 1479 for his stay at the court of Mohammed II, which ended two years later; but this is not confirmed by the Historia Turchesca by Giovanni Maria Angiolello, the most detailed account of Gentile's trip to the Orient. A document of 1486 lists Carpaccio as paying rent, on behalf of his father, for several storehouses in the Procuratie di San Marco in Venice. Then, finally, his first professional jobs as a painter appear in the record.

In 1488 the members of the Scuola di Sant'Orsola commissioned him to decorate their oratory with paintings showing the life of the scuola's patron saint, the martyr St. Ursula. The first signed painting, Arrival in Cologne, was finished in 1490. It was followed by the Apotheosis of St. Ursula (1491), the Martyrdom of the Pilgrims and Funeral of St. Ursula (1493), the Arrival in Rome (1493-95), the Meeting of the Betrothed Couple and the Departure of the Pilgrims and St. Ursula's Dream (1495), the Arrival of the Ambassadors in Brittany (c. 1495-96), the Return of the Ambassadors to the English Court (c. 1495-96), and the Departure of the Ambassadors (c. 1495-96).

The Miracle, made for the hall of the Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista as part of a series of paintings showing the Miracles of the Relic of the True Cross, and probably made under the direction of Gentile Bellini, dates to 1494 at the earliest. In 1496 Carpaccio signed the Blood of the Redeemer (Sacrament of the Eucharist) for the church of San Pietro Martire in Udine.

A document of 1501 attests that the painter received twenty ducats for a painting, now lost, made for the Sala dei Pregadi in the Doge's Palace. The payment included four ounces of ultramarine (powdered lapis lazuli): it was customary to supply painters with that costly color. After a subsequent payment of ten ducats, the work was completed in 1502 and placed above the throne in the hall, although the artist had to dun his patrons to receive the remainder of his payment.

Also in 1502 Carpaccio signed the Calling of Matthew and the Funeral of St. Jerome, perhaps the first two paintings for the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni. At the same time he must have accepted a commission from the Scuola degli Albanesi, but because of enmity between the two confraternities, he may have had the work done primarily by assistants. The Annunciation in the cycle of the stories of the Virgin, painted for the steward Zuan de Nicolò (Giovanni di Nicolò), bears the date of April 1504. In that same year Carpaccio participated in the important competition to create a painting in the Scuola Grande della Carita; he submitted a plan for a Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple, but was defeated by Pasqualino Veneto.

In 1505 Carpaccio made the Adoration of the Child with Two Donors, which is now in Lisbon's Gulbenkian Foundation. Two years later, following the deaths of Alvise Vivarini and Gentile Bellini, Carpaccio was hired at a salary of five ducats a month to participate with Giovanni Bellini in the decoration of the Sala del Maggiore Consiglio in the Doge's Palace. Vittore Belliniano and a certain Gerolamo "depentor" were summoned to work with him, evidently in a subordinate role considering the smaller payment given them (respectively four and two ducats a month). The three painters were called on to be "diligent and prompt in helping the aforementioned Giovanni Bellini," who was himself asked to complete "the three paintings, those three being that of the deceased Alvise Vivarini and the remaining two, one of which has not yet been begun." The paintings by Carpaccio, Pope Alexander III in the Church of St. Mark's and the Meeting of the Pope and the Doge at Ancona, were both lost, along with the painting in the Sala dei Pregadi, in the fire of 1577. Also in 1507 Carpaccio signed and dated the St. Thomas Aquinas Enthroned between Saints Mark and Louis of Toulouse for the church of San Pietro Martire in Murano, in which the Bellini style is reworked by way of Cima da Conegliano; and although the reading of the scroll is somewhat problematic, the Baptism of the Selenites made for the Scuola di San Giorgio also seems to be from that year.

In 1508 Carpaccio made the Death of the Virgin for the church of Santa Maria in Vado in Ferrara and participated in the contest for the creation of a gonfalon for the Scuola della Carita in Venice, a commission given instead to Benedetto Diana. At the end of 1508, Giovanni Bellini assigned him, together with Lazzaro Bastiani and Vittore Belliniano, to estimate the value of the frescoes that Giorgione had painted in the Fondaco dei Tedeschi. In 1510 Carpaccio made the Presentation of Christ in the Temple for the church of San Giobbe and the Portrait of a Knight now in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection.

The next year he sent a very interesting letter to the marchese of Mantua, Francesco Gonzaga (August 15), informing him that "your painter, master Laurenzio" (probably Lorenzo Leonbruno) would give him a "piece, not finished and in a small size" of an enormous Jerusalem (more than twenty-seven feet [eight meters] wide), painted "in watercolors on canvas." Carpaccio reminded the marchese of his visit to the Sala del Maggior Consiglio "to see our work showing the history of Ancona." Also in 1511, Carpaccio made the first painting for the Scuola di Santo Stefano (Consecration of St. Stephen), probably with the collaboration of Francesco Bissolo.

The last fifteen years of Carpaccio's life are reasonably well documented. The page for May 31, 1513, in the Diarii by Marino Sanudo informs us that Titian had been asked to paint in the Sala del Maggior Consiglio (a request that qualified him as "official painter" of the Venetian Republic) "without any salary, but with the compensation that had usually been given to those who worked there before him, namely Gentile and Giovanni Bellini and Vittore Carpaccio." This means that before that date Carpaccio had succeeded Giovanni Bellini as official painter for the republic.

In 1514 Vittore signed and dated the St. Vitalis in Glory for the church of San Vidal, the St. Sebastian of the Santa Fosca polyptych now in Zagreb, and the Disputation of St. Stephen for the Scuola di Santo Stefano. In 1515 he made, perhaps for Cardinal Ettore Ottobon, the Crucifixion of the Ten Thousand Martyrs on Mount Ararat for the church of Sant'Antonio di Castello. Also from that year is the Meeting of Anne and Joachim for the church of San Francesco in Treviso, probably requested by Libera de Claudis.

Three works by Carpaccio date to 1516: the Lion of St. Mark for the Camerlenghi Palace in the Rialto, now in the Doge's Palace; the St. George and the Dragon in the Sala del Conclave of the church of San Giorgio Maggiore; and the Virgin and Child with Saints still in the Cathedral of the Assumption in Capodistria (now Koper, Slovenia).

The Sebastiano Contarini Entering Capodistria, made for the Sala del Consiglio in the town hall of Koper (Capodistria), dates to 1517. In 1518 he painted the Virgin and Child with Saints in the church of San Francesco in Piran. He was also welcomed as "maistro Vetor Scharpaza de la Zudecha," by the very Scuola della Carita that had disappointed him in the past.

The Pozzale altarpiece (near Pieve di Cadore), a work entrusted almost entirely to his workshop, dates to 1519, as does the lost Averoldi altarpiece for the church of San Giovanni Evangelista of Brescia. In 1520 he signed and dated the St. Paul for the church of San Domenico in Chioggia. For some time, Carpaccio had been the favorite artist of the patriarch Antonio Contarini, and in 1522 he received a series of partial payments from that prelate for several paintings, some of them destined for Contarini's home. In 1523 he was listed as the executor for Marietta, wife of Domenico de' Canali, and was mentioned in the will of Maria Contarini. In November of that year he was still working on paintings for Antonio Contarini, and at the end of that month he received payment of the balance due for the completed works: fifty-two ducats for an altarpiece and fifty-three for a Nativity in the church of Sant'Antonio in Castello. Also dating to 1523 are the doors for an organ with the Presentation in the Temple and the Slaughter of the Innocents for the Cathedral of the Assumption in Koper.

According to a document concerning his wife, Laura, Carpaccio was still alive in October 1525, but he was certainly dead by 1526, as can be deduced from a document regarding his son Pietro and dated June 26 of that year. A document of 1527 refers to Laura as "relicta [widow] magistri Victoris Scarpati pictoris."


About Vittorio Sgarbi

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Vittorio Sgarbi (born in Ferrara, 1952), art critic and historian, and member of the European parliament, has curated numerous exhibitions in Italy and abroad and is the author of several essays, articles, and books including monographs on Carpaccio, Palladio, and Parmigianino.
Published May 1, 1995 by Abbeville Press. 272 pages
Genres: History, Arts & Photography, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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This Italian art historian sees Carpaccio as a deeply humanistic metaphysician, more learned and literate than his mentor, and ``always engaged in a programmatic search for the archetype of a gesture.'' This ravishing monograph combines an erudite text with scores of full-page, color reproduction...

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