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Bartolomeo Vivarini

Venetian, c. 1430/1432 - c. 1491 or c. 1499

Bartolomeo da Murano

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Bartolomeo Vivarini, born in Murano, was about a decade younger than his brother, Antonio Vivarini. He evidently trained with his brother, and when Antonio's brother-in-law and partner, Giovanni d'Alemagna, died in 1450, Bartolomeo took his place in the studio. The two painters signed works jointly over the next decade. After the early 1460s they do not seem to have collaborated artistically, but they continued to maintain a commercial relationship as a family firm.

Not surprisingly, Bartolomeo'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 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 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.[1]
[This is the artist's biography published in the NGA Systematic Catalogue]

[1] Zeri 1973, 91-92.

Artist Bibliography
Pallucchini, Rodolfo. I Vivarini (Antonio, Bartolomeo, Alvise). Venice, 1961.
Steer, John. In Encyclopedia of Italian Renaissance and Mannerist Art. Ed. Jane Turner. 2 vols. London and New York, 2000: 1784-1786.
Boskovits, Miklós, and David Alan Brown, et al. Italian Paintings of the Fifteenth Century. The Systematic Catalogue of the National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., 2003: 683.

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