1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Crivelli, Carlo

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CRIVELLI, CARLO, Venetian painter, was born in the earlier part of the 15th century. The only dates that can with certainty be given are 1468 and 1493; these are respectively the earliest and the latest years signed on his pictures—the former on an altar-piece in the church of San Silvestro at Massa near Fermo, and the latter on a picture in the Oggioni collection in Milan. Though born in Venice, Crivelli seems to have worked chiefly in the March of Ancona, and especially in and near Ascoli; there are only two pictures of his proper to a Venetian building, both of these being in the church of San Sebastiano. He is said to have studied under Jacobello del Fiore, who was painting as late at any rate as 1436; at that time Crivelli was probably only a boy. The latter always signed as “Carolus Crivellus Venetus”; from 1490 he added “Miles,” having been then knighted (“Cavalière”) by Ferdinand II. of Naples. He painted in tempera only, and is seen to most advantage in subject pictures of moderate size. He introduced agreeable landscape backgrounds; and was particularly partial to giving fruits and flowers (the peach is one of his favourite fruits) as accessories, often in pendent festoons. The National Gallery in London is well supplied with examples of Crivelli; the “Annunciation,” and the “Beato Ferretti” (of the same family as Pope Pius IX.) in religious ecstasy, may be specified. Another of his principal pictures is in San Francesco di Matelica; in Berlin is a “Madonna and Saints” (1491); in the Vatican Gallery a “Dead Christ,” and in the Brera of Milan the painter’s own portrait, with other examples. Crivelli is a painter of marked individuality,—hard in form, crudely definite in contour; stern, forced, energetic, almost grotesque and repellent, in feature and expression, and yet well capable of a prim sort of prettiness; simply vigorous in his effect of detachment and relief, and sometimes admitting into his pictures objects actually raised in surface; distinct and warm in colour, with an effect at once harsh and harmonious. His pictures gain by being seen in half-light, and at some little distance; under favouring conditions they grip the spectator with uncommon power. Few artists seem to have worked with more uniformity of purpose, or more forthright command of his materials, so far as they go. It is surmised that Carlo was of the same family as the painters Donato Crivelli (who was working in 1459, and was also a scholar of Jacobello) and Vittorio Crivelli. Pietro Alamanni was his pupil.

See, along with Crowe and Cavalcaselle, Berenson, Venetian Painters of the Renaissance (1899); Morelli, Italian Painters (1892–1893); Rushforth, Carlo Crivelli (1900).  (W. M. R.)