The biography of Antonio Vivarini (1440 - 1484)

Antonio Vivarini (Antonio of Murano) (1440 – 1480) was a Venetian painter of the early Renaissance, one of the most important and prolific Venetian artists of the first half of the 15th century, founder of the studio of the influential Vivarini family of painters. He is probably the earliest of a family of painters including sibling his younger brother Bartolomeo and Antonio’s son Alvise Vivarini. He may be regarded as the father of the famous Murano School of painting.

Antonio Vivarini (Antonio of Murano) was born probably at Murano c. 1440. He died probably at Venice, c. 1480.

He initially trained with Andrea da Murano and his works show the influence of Gentile da Fabriano. From 1444 Vivarini collaborated with his brother-in-law Giovanni d'Alemagna, who has also been regarded as a brother (Giovanni of Murano).

Surviving altarpieces executed by Antonio and Giovanni d'Alemagna are in the churches of San Zaccaria (1443–44) and San Pantalon (1444) and in the Accademia (1446), all in Venice; and a polyptych is in the Brera, Milan (1448).

The earliest work signed by Antonio and Bartolomeo Vivarini is a polyptych, now in the Bologna gallery. Between 1447 and 1450 the two artists lived in Padua, where, together with Andrea Mantegna and Niccolò Pizzolo, they executed a cycle of frescoes in the Ovetari Chapel of the Church of the Eremitani (destroyed in World War II).

After Giovanni d’Alemagna’s death in 1450, Antonio painted either alone or he worked with his younger brother, Bartolomeo. The Bologna Gallery possesses a very fine picture signed by the two brothers in 1450 and painted for the Certosa. A picture was painted for the Church of San Francesco at Padua in the following year. The partnership broke up in 1459, and the pictures following that time are signed by Antonio alone.

The styles of Antonio and Giovanni are not easily distinguished, but Antonio was certainly the dominant partner. He was likely influenced by Mantegna. The works of Antonio are well drawn for their epoch, with a certain noticeable degree of softness, and with good flesh and other tints.

The latest known really important picture of his is now in the Lateran Gallery, and is dated 1467. Three of his principal paintings are the Virgin Enthroned with the Four Doctors of the Church, the Coronation of the Virgin and Sts Peter and Jerome. The first two (in which Giovanni co-operated) are in the Venetian academy, the third in the National Gallery, London. Other places where the works of this painter may be studied are Brescia, Osimo, Pausula, Bergamo, Berlin, and Milan.