BASAITI, Marco
(active 1496-1530 in Venice)

Biography

Italian painter of Albanian origin. He is documented only once, in 1530, when he was recorded in the Mariegola dei Pittori Veneziani (the Venetian painters' guild) as a painter of figures, but many of his paintings are dated, the earliest in 1496 and the last in 1527. The spelling of his signature varies, and Vasari erroneously believed that two Venetian painters existed, named Marco Bassarini and Marco Bassiti. Ridolfi stated that Basaiti was born in Friuli, while Lanzi asserted that Basaiti was born of Greek parents in Friuli. Babinger convincingly proposed that Basaiti was of Albanian origin; a family of Balkan mercenaries in Venetian pay named B˛zhajt or B˛zhejt was documented in Venice at the beginning of the 16th century. This would explain the variations on Basaiti's name and also account for his lack of documentation, since Albanian, Greek and Dalmatian communities living in Venice kept to their own laws and usually do not appear in Venetian documents.

He was trained in the circle of Alvise Vivarini, with whom he is sometimes confused. His paintings echo the styles of Antonello da Messina and Giovanni Bellini, and also reveal the influence of Giorgione's work. Basaiti was very much an artist of the fifteenth century; his figures and his compositions retain a certain rigidity characteristic of that period. Only his later work becomes looser and more luminous.