Renaissance Venice was so rich
in artists that Cima from the little neighboring town of Conegliano, seems
at first sight a minor artist compared to Titian,
Veronese, and Tintoretto. He is nevertheless one of the most impressive
and interesting of Venetian artists, with a wonderful sense of space, color
and human relationships.
Sometimes called “the poor man’s Bellini”, Cima demonstrated an individual style from his earliest work, such as Olera Polyptych. Perfectly preserved in its original frame, this is as example of the rigorous yet delicate style of the young painter before he moved to Venice. The use of the old-fashioned type of gilded polyptych surrounding a wooden statue of the patron saint indicates his own provincial location in a small, rather backward town in the mountain valleys.
Cima had developed his own style by the careful study of many artists. In about 1490, he moved to Venice (where he stayed until 1516). He was particularly interested in Antonello da Messina’s work. Cima’s best works included a number of Virgins and huge, dazzling altarpieces. These were painted with perfect clarity and a light that is almost northern. He took enormous care over the accuracy of detail and nature, providing peaceful images of the Venetian countryside and hills. The Madonna with the Orange Tree; St. John the Baptist and Saints, Baptism of Christ.
Even after Giorgione arrived on the scene and Titian began working, Cima did not convert to their way of painting but rather remained faithful to his well-defined reading of descriptive detail. But he did turn to secular subjects. The gentle rhythms of his compositions and his much-loved natural backgrounds grew even more tranquil.
Cima made important contribution to the Venetian School.