The Life and Works of Vittorio Carpaccio

By Pompeo Molmenti; Gustav Ludwig et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
LAZZARO BASTIANI AND HIS SCHOOL

RT-HISTORIANS anxious to elucidate the question of Carpaccio's apprenticeship suggest alternately the tuition of Vivarini or of Gentile Bellini. Vasari, labouring under an obvious misapprehension, had affirmed that Carpaccio was the teacher of his own two brothers, Lazzaro and Bastian.1 Historians easily rectified this confusion of name; but nearly all agreed in supposing that the great painter had Lazzaro Bastiani for his pupil. A closer examination of the value of these asseverations and the comparison of dates and facts in the light of documents hitherto unknown lead us to the conclusion that Bastiani was neither the scholar nor the imitator of Carpaccio but was actually his first master. To remove all credibility from the assertion, repeated and upheld even by Cavalcaselle, that Bastiani was Carpaccio's pupil it is sufficient to state that the former was already a painter of repute before the latter was even born. Nor is this all. Further proof is supplied by a comparison between certain paintings by Bastiani with others of Carpaccio, which exhibit so great an analogy of style that, later on, when the fame of the master was obscured by that of the pupil, works by the elder were attributed to the younger. This confusion, which has been cleared up by more careful methods of observation, naturally leads us to infer that Carpaccio was initiated into his art by Bastiani. It is therefore necessary, in order to determine more accurately what paintings should rightly be attributed to each, and in order to ascertain with greater exactitude the influence exercised by the elder over the younger painter, that we should reconstruct the figure of Lazzaro Bastiani, hitherto so imperfectly known and so inadequately appreciated. The guidance of authentic records which throw a new light upon this great craftsman's life,

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1
"He taught the art to his two brothers, who imitated him fairly well: one was Lazzaro and the other Sebastiano." Vasari, Le vite dei più eccellenti pittori, with new Notes and Commentaries by Gaetano Milanesi, t. iii. Sansoni, 1878.

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