Carpaccio, Vittore ca. 1465–ca. 1525 Italian Painter

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Carpaccio, Vittore
ca. 1465–ca. 1525
Italian painter

Vittore Carpaccio was one of the most celebrated artists of Renaissance Venice, but little is known of his life or early work. Carpaccio's first major project, between 1490 and 1500, involved a series of nine large canvases for the School of St. Ursula in Venice. These works, which tell the story of the saint's life, made Carpaccio's reputation as a painter.

Following this success, Carpaccio painted narrative* works for other schools in the city. These schools, or scuole, were Venetian organizations dedicated to charity and devotional exercises that spent lavishly to decorate their churches and meeting halls. For the School of St. John the Baptist, Carpaccio created Healing of the Possessed Man, which presents a richly detailed scene of Venetian city life. The painting shows his talent for blending sacred events into the realities of everyday life.

Carpaccio had a gift for presenting large numbers of people in his paintings by organizing them into groups. His works combine liveliness and variety with a sense of balance and order. For inspiration, he drew from the architecture and spectacle of Venice, as well as from books illustrating the geography and costumes of different parts of the world.

In addition to his work for schools, Carpaccio painted various works for the city of Venice and for churches within and outside the city. Although best known for his narrative scenes, he also achieved fame as a portrait painter. Later generations regarded Carpaccio as the most important contemporary of the great Venetian painter Giovanni Bellini.

(See alsoArt; Art in Italy; Venice. )

* narrative