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Vivarinis’ exhibition highlights the magnificence of Venetian 15th-century painting

by Lorenzo Zanini

The Vivarinis are a family of painters from Murano, active between 1440 and the beginning of the 16th century. From February 20 to June 5, the Sarcinelli Palace at Conegliano, near Treviso, is hosting the exhibition “The Vivarinis. The splendor of painting between Gothic and Renaissance.”

It will be an opportunity to find out more about the works of these artists, known by the critics, a bit less by the general public. Their works cross Italy and touch Istria, Dalmatia, Marche, in addition to Venice, and finally arrive in Puglia.

That of the Vivarinis was an “art workshop,” a “family-run” painting school, as we would say today. The workshop was an initiative of Antonio and his brother in law Giovanni d'Alemagna, later on, Bartolomeo and Alvise Vivarini joined the team. At that time, another famous workshop was active in Venice, that of Jacopo Bellini.

Antonio, the progenitor of the family, worked on the fresco decoration of the Ovetari Chapel in the Church of the Eremitani in Padua, alongside the younger painters Nicolò Pinzolo and Andrea Mantegna. After 1450, he decided to paint alone or together with his younger brother Bartolomeo: he realized some altarpieces and polyptychs, especially for the churches of Venice.

Among the artist's works on display at the Sarcinelli Palace, there are the polyptych from the Euphrasian Basilica in Porec (Croatia), and the panels produced for clients from Puglia, including the altarpiece of Bartolomeo made for the Basilica of St. Nicholas in Bari. You can admire Antonio's small panels with the stories of St. Monica and St. Apollonia, created in collaboration with his brother in law (Giovanni d'Alemagna).

The works of Vivarini were influenced by some of the most important protagonists of the early Italian Renaissance, among which Mantegna, Filippo Lippi, Andrea del Castagno, Paolo Uccello in addition to the Venetian artists.

Another leading member of the Venetian family was Alvise Vivarini. This artist was influenced by the paintings of Giovanni Bellini and Cima da Conegliano, and above all, by Antonello da Messina. The Franciscan small panel from the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo is one of the most famous works of Alvise, as well as the “Portrait of a man with hat” (from the Civic Museums of Padua), one of the rare examples of Vivarinis' portraiture.

(”The Vivarinis. The splendor of painting between Gothic and Renaissance” Palazzo Sarcinelli, Conegliano, from February 20 to June 5)


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