Andrea Meldola or Meldolla, renamed Schiavone for being born in Dalmatia, had the undisputed merit of inventing a new Venetian Renaissance painting style that saw many admirers among his colleagues, in particular he represented a point of reference for Domenico Tintoretto, Carracci and El Greco.
He was born between 1510 and 1515 into a family from Romagna, precisely from Meldola and residing in the Dalmatian city because of the work done by Andrea's father: the head of the family, in fact, was an official of the Serenissima in Zara.
Although the information about his life is inaccurate and uncertain, it is assumed that he moved at a young age to Venice where he studied to become a painter and engraver; in the lagoon city he left relevant evidence of his work in churches and public offices. Certainly, he was already a mature painter in 1540, the year in which Giorgio Vasari commissioned him to create the work Battaglia, now sadly lost, destined for Ottaviano de 'Medici. Vasari himself wrote, in the 1568 edition of Vite, of the final product: "... it was the best that Andrea Schiavone ever made and truly beautiful".
It was around 1540 that Schiavone's artistic talent began to be recognized and admired, becoming one of the most popular young artists of the time; a letter of 1548 from Pietro Aretino to the painter, will bring the latter closer to the Aretina Academy, that prestigious cultural circle to which Vasari, Tiziano and many other elected members also belonged. No other works directly attributable to him are known from the fourth decade and it is assumed that, until the early 1950s, Meldola developed his predisposition for graphics. It is no coincidence that he is esteemed for his engraving skills. The four tablets, two Stories of Apollo and two Stories of Jupiter, preserved in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, can be traced back to this period and were most likely made to decorate a chest or a wardrobe. The large etching with the Rape of Helen, dated 1547, represents the only work of the whole corpus of Schiavone dated and signed "Andrea Meldolla inventor".
In Venice, during his career as an artist, he created a votive picture for Doge Francesco Donà, he frescoed the facade of Palazzo Zen at the Crociferi of which today unfortunately no trace remains and between 1552 and 1553 he took care of adorning the gallery of the choir of the Carmini church. On the ceiling of the chapel of the Grimani family, inside the church of San Sebastiano, Schiavone painted the monochrome frescoes depicting the Oration in the garden, the Betrayal of Judas, the Deposition in the sepulcher and the Resurrection, working in collaboration with Alessandro Vittoria who took care of the stucco frames and the important sculptor (bust of Marcantono Grimani and statues of San Marco and Sant'Antonio Abate). Still in the same place of worship, Andrea Meldola painted the altarpiece of the Pellegrini chapel, the first in the left aisle, depicting Christ with two disciples on the road to Emmaus, as well as two small monochromatic oval frescoes with figures of Virtue.
There is no doubt that the most prestigious professional work was carried out inside the Marciana Bookshop: on 10 February 1557 Schiavone received the final balance of his most important and celebrated work by his contemporaries. In the current Marciana National Library he created - as part of the decoration of the ceiling of the Library room whose architecture had recently been completed by Iacopo Sansovino - the three tondi entrusted to him depicting: The triumph of arms, The dignity of the empires and priesthood. In addition to the tondi on the ceiling in the Marciana Library he also painted the two figures of the Philosophers on the walls.
The commission received on 21 June 1562 by the great guardian Tommaso Rangone of the Scuola di San Marco stands out among the latest assignments destined for Venetian public places: a canvas depicting the Miracle of San Marco. The work was probably never completed by the painter, as the School some time later commissioned a canvas of the same subject from Domenico Robusti known as Tintoretto.
On 1 December 1563 Schiavone passed away and among the witnesses to the reading of his will there was the old colleague Alessandro Vittoria, who is believed to have also supported his friend in the drafting of his last testamentary wills who left all his assets to his wife Marina de Ricis.