We know very little of his life and only few of his works survive, despite this he is ranked among the greatest masters of the Italian Early Renaissance. He called himself a Venetian, yet we do not know whether he was born in Venice or whether the family moved from Venice to Florence before his birth. Some art historians think that Domenico received initial training in Venice, where he got acquainted with the paintings by northern European artists.
In the 1430s, he worked in Perugia. In 1438, he wrote to Piero de’Medici, asking for help in obtaining commissions in Florence. His letter of application was evidently successful. He settled in Florence about 1439 and, except for brief periods, worked there until his death.
In about 1444, he painted the frescoes in the church of San Egidio in the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova. He worked together with Andrea del Castagno and Piero della Francesca, his greatest pupil. None of these frescoes has survived. This loss has left the great gap in our knowledge of the development of Florentine Early Renaissance painting.
In 1447, Domenico Veneziano completed his masterpiece known as Altarpiece of St. Lucy of the Magnolias for the church of Santa Lucia dei Magnoli. The central panel, Madonna and Child with Saints, is in the Ufizzi Gallery and five panels of the predela are in museums of Washington, Cambridge and Berlin. This painting ranks amongst the most important works of the Italian Early Renaissance. It definitely marked an end to the use of polyptyches as altar paintings, and its pastel palette must have made a revolutionary impact on the contemporaries.
Although Domenico Veneziano had studied Massaccio, Uccello and Castagno with regard to the representation of space and figure, color was his primary concern. The method of adding more oil to tempera as binder, was used in modern times to intensify color; and Domenico experimented with the technique to create ‘atmospheric’ light effects.
The last known work of the artist is the fresco of St. John the Baptist and St. Francis for the Calvacanti Chapel in the church of Santa Croce. The fresco was removed from the wall in 1566.
The artist died in Florence in 1461.
: The Painting of Domenico Veneziano. A Study of Florentine Art in the Early Renaissance by H. Wohl. Oxford. 1980.
Monumental Painting of Italian Renaissance by I. Smirnova. Moscow. 1987.
The Art of the Italian Renaissance. Architecture. Sculpture. Painting. Drawing. Könemann. 1995.
Painting of Europe. XIII-XX centuries. Encyclopedic Dictionary. Moscow. Iskusstvo. 1999.
1445-47. Tempera on wood panel. 209 x 216. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy. Read Note.
1455-1460. Detached fresco. 190 x 115 cm. Museo dell'Opera di Santa Croce, Florence, Italy. Read Note.