A group of Madonnas by Carpaccio and Bartolomeo Veneto
A group of Madonnas by Carpaccio and Bartolomeo Veneto
Just such an arrangement is to be found in Alvise’s
two Madonnas in the National Gallery, London, both
datable to the early 1480s (figs. 9 & 10);6 and in both
of these, as well as in the Carpaccio, the window motif
prompts a treatment of the landscape as a funnel of
deep perspective – in contrast to that of the earlier,
Bellinesque Madonna, where the composition is more
planar. Perhaps also inspired by Alvise (see fig. 10)
is the motif of the transparent veil underneath the
Virgin’s white head covering.
Further confirmation that the ex-Eissler Madonna is a
variant of the Florence Madonna, and not vice versa,
is provided by another motif that may have a source
in Alvise. More visible since the recent cleaning of
the picture is the fact that the Child is holding in his
right fist a length of string, to which is attached a little
bird, now half cut-off at the left edge. This motif is
not repeated in the ex-Eissler Madonna, in which the
Child’s clenched fist and sideways glance to the left no
longer have any logical explanation.
Fig. 9 / Alvise Vivarini, Virgin
and Child, ca. 1483, oil on
panel, 69.2 x 53.3 cm, London,
National Gallery.
Fig. 10 / Alvise Vivarini Virgin
and Child, ca. 1483/1485,
oil on panel, 80.2 x 64.8
cm, London, on loan to the
National Gallery.
A combination of a very similar figure composition with
the motifs of the window and of the bird-on-a-string
is to be found in the above-mentioned, badly damaged
painting in the Fogg Museum (see fig. 5). For at least a
century this has been attributed to Lattanzio da Rimini;7
but the case has never been argued, and in fact, does
not stand up to close scrutiny. Although Lattanzio is
recorded as an assistant of Bellini in 1492, knowledge
of his independent style is based on only two signed and
dated works: the Saint Martin polyptych of 1503 in the
parish church of Piazza Brembana, near Bergamo, and
the Saint John the Baptist altarpiece of 1505 in the nearby
church of Mezzoldo.8 The Fogg Madonna is not close
to these altarpieces either in its figure types or in its arid
and linear landscape. Yet in its style – as opposed to
its composition – the Fogg Madonna does not closely
resemble Carpaccio’s Florence Madonna either; and it
remains difficult to provide the former with a convincing
alternative attribution,9 or to guess which of these two


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