(b. 1472, Venezia, d. 1526, Capodistria)


Venetian painter. His life is poorly documented, and it is not known with whom he trained, but it is generally agreed that the chief influence on his work was Gentile Bellini. This is especially apparent in the first of the two great cycles of paintings that are his chief claim to fame - the Scenes from the Life of St Ursula, executed in the 1490s and now in the Accademia, Venice. Carpaccio's distinguishing characteristics — his taste for anecdote, and his eye for the crowded detail of the Venetian scene — found their happiest expression in these paintings. Especially original is the painting Dream of Saint Ursula. His other cycle, Scenes from the Lives of St George and St Jerome, painted for the Scuola (or 'Society') of S. Giorgio degli Schiavone, Venice, in 1502-07 (still in the Scuola), combines fantasy with detail minutely observed. The two best-known paintings of this cycle are Saint George Slaying the Dragon and Saint Augustin in His Study.

After these two major commissions, however, Carpaccio's career declined, his work seeming old-fashioned, and he remained virtually forgotten until Ruskin revived his reputation in the 19th century. He is now rated as second only to Giovanni Bellini as the outstanding Venetian painter of his generation.