Italian family of painters. Descended from a family of glassworkers active in Murano, (1) Antonio Vivarini became prominent in Venetian painting c. 1440, producing many joint works with his brother-in-law Giovanni d’Alemagna . Antonio also often collaborated with his younger brother (2) Bartolomeo Vivarini, and the family dynasty remained important until the death of Antonio’s son (3) Alvise Vivarini.
Giovanni d’Alemagna must, as his various signatures show, have been of German origin, but he was completely integrated into the family workshop, and attempts by earlier art historians to attribute to him supposedly German elements in his joint works with Antonio seem misjudged. The question of northern influence on the works is not resolved. Giovanni’s name often appears before that of Antonio in documents and signatures and his role in the workshop was surely an important one.
A major part of the workshop’s production was of tiered polyptychs in elaborately carved Gothic frames made by a number of different wood-carvers but of similar design. Developed by Antonio and Giovanni, these were, in the 1440s, very fashionable in Venice, but the market for them continued in various provincial centres under Venetian influence—the Marches, Puglia and to a lesser extent Istria—until the 1470s, and in these areas the Vivarini workshop enjoyed a virtual monopoly, producing a large number of works, many of low quality and probably entirely by studio assistants. In the late 1480s and the 1490s ...