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Between 1460 and 1465 Vettor Scarpaza/o was born in Venice, later called Carpaccio in modern times. He probably did his apprenticeship with Gentile Bellini, son of Jacopo and brother of Giovanni.

Among his first works appeared in 1490 the Two Venetian Ladies of the Correr Museum and the lower part of the Hunt in the Lagoon preserved at the John Paul Getty Museum in Malibu. The first painting was long considered a simple depiction of two courtesans; in reality they are two noble and rich ladies, portrayed together with a vast repertoire of symbols indicating matrimonial virtues and fidelity. In the upper part the reason for their sadness is portrayed: the men are hunting in the lagoon while the ladies have to wait patiently for them at home.

In the same year he began working for some schools in Venice, making his debut with the Ciclo di Sant'Orsola for the homonymous brotherhood, narrating episodes from the life of the saint taken from the Golden Legend by Jacopo da Varagine.

In the middle of the following decade he intervened for the cycle of the Relic of the Cross for the School of San Giovanni Evangelista, collaborating with Gentile Bellini who had largely created.

In these works it is noted how the painter's attention was focused on the various narrative episodes almost always conceived in an allegorical function with a meticulous attention to the Venetian costume and ceremonial of the time.

In the very first years of the new century (1501-1503) he dedicated himself to the Dalmatian School of Saints George and Trifone, performing canvases with the homonymous saints as well as with the Saints Jerome and Augustine. St. George, image of miles christianus, who defeats the dragon, the latter metaphor of the Turkish threat that appeared on the flag while St. Jerome and the lion metaphor of conversion and pacification (the telero was executed shortly after the battle of Santa Maura in momentary pause of the Turkish wars).

Between 1511 and 1520 he dedicated himself to the cycle of Santo Stefano for the school of the same name, highlighting here the anti-Jewish controversy of those years (which later resulted in 1516 with the creation of the Ghetto Novo) with the recurring symbolism of the stone which, in addition to characterizing the first martyr in history also represents the hegemonic craftsmanship of stonecutters.

Especially from the beginning of the 16th century, Carpaccio also devoted himself to numerous altarpieces and paintings not belonging to the circuits of the Venetian schools. This is the case of the Meditation on the Passion of Christ (1500) of the Metropolitan Museum of New York, which hides behind the likeness of Saint Job the portrait of the client or of the Preparation of the sepulcher of Christ (1505-1507) in which the tree half dry and half-flowered it indicates the contiguity between death and resurrection. Other examples are the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, performed for the church of San Giobbe and now in the Gallerie dell'Accademia and, again, the Altarpiece of San Vitale (1514) for the Venetian church of the same name.

In 1507 the painter also worked for the Doge's Palace, performing two episodes from the life of Pope Alexander III.

In 1515 he executed the altarpiece with the Ten Thousand Martyrs of Mount Ararat for the destroyed church of Sant'Antonio di Castello, in which in addition to remembering the Turkish wars and the glory of the Ottobon family, he also inserted a flag with the inscription SPQR, reference to the Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg and his desire to join forces with the sultan in the land and sea attack on Venice.

In the version of the works that they perform and especially for those performed for the Venetian schools, Carpaccio inserted within them elements that recall contemporary history, in particular the numerous and furious wars against the Turks that were so busy the Venetians at that time. To cite a couple of examples the dark knight with the trumpet in the middle of the martyrdom of the pilgrims and funeral of the saint or the flag with the crescent that stands out in the ten thousand martyrs.

There is no information about the painter's death. The latest news dates back to October 1525, only to be deceased in the following June. It is therefore not known precisely where or when he died.

(rb)

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