DALMATIAN SCHOOL OF SS. GEORGE AND TRYPHON
Also known as the School of S. Giorgio degli Schiavoni
The Italian painter Victor Carpaccio was born in Venice around the year 1465. His father, Piero Sarpazza, was a leather merchant. He changed his surname to Carpaccio after having formed close relations with the humanistic circles of Venetian society, led by men such as Ermolao Barbaro and Bernardo Bembo.
Carpaccio’s very personal artistic approach opens itself up to the Venetian style, especially when compared to the painters of his time. Nevertheless, his style gives no hint as to which artistic boutique he was trained in. Critics assume that he began his artistic experience in Venice under the wings of the great artists of his day such as Gentile Bellini, Lazzaro Bastiani, Antonello and Giambellino. It is all but certain that Victor Carpaccio had contacts with Antonello da Messina. We are also quite sure that he studied the Ferrara-based cyclical works of Piero della Francesca. Carpaccio realized a cycle of works for the Saint Ursula School in 1490 using the “teleri”, or large canvas works on wooden supports based on the example of Mantenga, the artist responsible for this technical innovation. Carpaccio received many more important commissions after these initial works.
Carpaccio began work on paintings for the School of Saint John the Evangelist under the direction of Gentile Bellini by the end of the 1400s. In 1501, he began a cycle of “teleri” for the Ducal Palace which were destined for the Pregadi Hall and the Hall of the Major Council (“Sala del Maggior Consiglio”). Unfortunately these works have been completely lost. Many Venetian schools continue to offer Carpaccio prestigious commissions from this point forward. For the Dalmatian School of Saint George “Schiavoni”, he realized a cycle called “Histories of the Saint” based on the figures of Saint Jerome, Saint Tryphon, in addition to two “Evangelist Histories”: the “Vocation of Saint Matthew” and “The Prayer in the Garden.”
Amongst Carpaccio’s most celebrated works we find ample narrative works based on the legends of saints, such as “The Histories” of Saint Ursula, Saint George, Saint Stephen and Saint Jerome, the “Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple” and the “Miracle of the Cross.” The arist used these works to depict Venetian life at the time, with richness of color and fine details. Fortunately, all of these works can be found in Venice today.
Although he was considered a “state-sponsored painter” for his numerous public works, Victor Carpaccio also worked on non-religious works for private citizens. Hence the creation of works such as “Cortigiane” (“Courtesans”) and “Ritratto del Cavaliere” (“Portrait of a Cavalier”). The spread of Carpaccio’s popularity led him to assume provincial commissions as well, leading him to realize the altar pieces of “Saint Peter the Martyr” in Murano and “Santa Maria in Vado” in Ferrara. In Istria, Carpaccio executed the altar piece and depicted the organ panels in the cathedral. He died in 1526 after having spent his final years there.