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Vincenzo Catena

Painter and Draughtsman

1470 / 1480 in Venice
1531 in Venice

One Work by Vincenzo Catena


Nothing definite is known about the artistic beginnings of Vincenzo Catena, presumably from Istria. He is first mentioned in an inscription, dated 1 June 1506, on the back of Giorgione's so-called 'Laura' in Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum. There he is referred to as Giorgione's 'cholega' (colleague). It is unclear whether this merely refers to their common profession or to some closer collaboration between the two. Around this same time, Catena executed a prestigious commission from the doge Leonardo Loredan, the 'Sacra Conversazione' with the saints Mark and John the Baptist and the donor, now in Venice's Museo Correr. This marks the beginning of an artistic career that not only brought Catena considerable wealth, but also put him into contact with the leading humanists of his time. In his various testaments, beginning in 1515, he promised a large sum of money to the "Scuola dei pittor", and two pictures or a piece of furniture to the humanists Battista Egnazio and Antonio Marsilio. In April 1520 Marcantonio Michiel notified the latter in a letter of the death of Raphael. This news is linked to the request that he warn "il nostro Catena" of the dangers of the time for "excellenti pittori". In his 'Notizie d'opere del disegno' from around 1520, Marcantonio Michiel also described several works of Catena's, now lost, in Venetian collections. The earliest paintings attributed to Catena show the influence of works by Giovanni Bellini. In the middle of the first decade of the sixteenth century, the definite influence of Giorgione - which would continue throughout the rest of Catena's career - made its appearance. The "tempered post-Giorgionist" appears in his works from these years "wholly committed to an enlightened Catholic humanism" (Dal Pozzolo). Altarpieces and votive pictures were the main pictorial assignments to which Catena devoted himself throughout his life. Especially successful compositions - 'Madonna and Child' or 'St Jerome in His Study' - were repeated in multiple copies. Next to this, Vincenzo Catena's most important work was as a portraitist, whose sensitivity was praised by Giorgio Vasari in his 'Lives of the Artists'.