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Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano

Painter and Draughtsman

1459 / 1460 in Conegliano
1517 / 1518 in Conegliano

2 Works by Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano


Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano came from a family of craftsmen from Conegliano who worked in the processing of wool, to which the family name 'Cima' refers, a name the artist himself did not use. Giovanni Battista appears to have received his artistic training in Venice in the vicinity of the leading workshops of the last quarter of the fifteenth century, those of Giovanni Bellini and Alvise Vivarini. No more precise information is known. His earliest surviving work, an altarpiece for the church of S Bartolomeo in Vicenza, dated 1489, is reminiscent of Bartolomeo Montagna, Vicenza's leading artist. By 1492 at the latest Cima was working in Venice, where he would spend his entire artistic career; documented commissions, primarily for altarpieces, and a number of dated and signed works account for the period between 1492/93 and 1516. Cima was married twice. He died between October 1517 and November 1518, when his death is mentioned in records of the convent of S Francesco in Conegliano. Cima's oeuvre consists essentially of altar paintings of the type of the 'Sacra Conversazione' established by Giovanni Bellini and Antonello da Messina, as well as smaller votive pictures for private devotions. The latter were apparently produced in great numbers for the art market, and accordingly exhibit motifs that would appeal to a broad range of buyers: Madonnas with or without accompanying saints or St Jerome in the Wilderness. For this market-based production he needed a number of assistants, and this is reflected in the difference in differences in quality between individual works. Over the course of his career Cima da Conegliano managed to free himself from his early reliance on tempera (occasionally on canvas) and explore - ultimately in a mixed tempera and oil technique borrowing from Netherlandish works - new possibilities for the rendering of light and landscape and the nuanced use of the most varied materials.