Alvise Vivarini
1446/1447 - 1502

Alvise was the son of Antonio, and was educated by his uncle Bartolomeo. Of his early history very little is known. In 1488 he wrote to the Signoria in Venice, begging that he might be allowed to prove his skill side by side with that of the two Bellini in the decoration of one of the great rooms, that in which the Grand Council met. His petition was granted, but the pictures he executed have disappeared. In 1492, from the same body, he received the honorary title of Depentor in Gran Conscio and a stipend of five ducats a month. For some years he was by most critics connected with Giovanni Bellini, by some regarded as Bellini's pupil, or a foreman in his studio, and by others as a person of little interest, an unimportant Muranese painter, who imitated Bellini's methods and copied his ideas and technique. It is very largely owing to Bernhard Berenson's investigations when compiling his work on Lotto that Alvise has been given his rightful position as an eminent Venetian painter, who exercised great and lasting influences on his successors. He was an original workman, highly thought of in his own time, a great figure amongst the Venetian masters of the fifteenth century, by no means an unimportant member of the Vivarini family, and not a follower of Bellini, but eminent on his own account, and also because he was the master of Cima, Lotto, Montegna, and Bonsignori. His influence upon his pupils is considerable, and extends to others who were not specially known as his pupils, as Basaiti, Pordenone, and Antonello da Messina. His first dated work is the polyptych of 1475, painted for Montefiorentino, and still to be seen in that Franciscan monastery. His Madonna of 1480 is in the Venice Academy. There is a picture dated 1483 at Barletta, one at Naples of 1485, a Madonna at Vienna, 1489, a head of the Saviour in Venice (1493), a Resurrection at Venice also of 1498. Then we come to the last great work, that of "St. Ambrose Enthroned", in the Frari Church at Venice, commenced in 1501, left incomplete at his death, and finished by Marco Basaiti. Many other works of his still exist , but are without date, and recent criticism has given back to Alvise a number of portraits which have hitherto passed under other names. There is but one signed portrait by him, that which formed part of the Salting Bequest; but, taking that as a starting-point, the pictures at Windsor Castle, in the Stuttgart Gallery, in the gallery at Padua, and in the possession of the Comtesse de Bearn, have been with considerable probability attributed to this painter. Many judges also attribute to him a portrait bequeathed to the National Gallery by the Misses Cohen as well as one belonging to Lord Wemyss, another in the possession of Lady Layard, and a fourth in the Signoria in Venice.

"Ghirlandaio" Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2001 © 1997-2000 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.