MORONE, Domenico
(b. ca. 1442, Verona, d. ca. 1518, Verona)


Italian painter of the Veronese school. Vasari - exceptionally well informed on Veronese artists - asserted that Domenico was taught by students of the Gothic painter Stefano da Verona. His earliest signed work, a fine Virgin and Child dated 29 April 1483 (Berlin, Staatliche Museen), reveals his conversion to Andrea Mantegna's ideas, partly as filtered through Giovanni Bellini and Francesco Benaglio. His next, the signed and dated Expulsion of the Bonacolsi from Mantua (1494; Mantua, Palazzo Ducale), parallels the Venetian panoramic narratives of Gentile Bellini and Vittore Carpaccio and may owe much to Giovanni Bellini's lost battle paintings for the Doge's Palace in Venice. Though damaged and repainted (the distant landscape, for example, is new), this spirited narrative remains valuable both for its detailed description of 15th-century Mantua and as the most convincing large-scale Quattrocento battle-piece that survives.

Around 1500 Domenico's workshop executed major fresco cycles in Verona's churches: the crossing and lantern of Santa Maria in Organo (payments 1495-99), the Medici Chapel in San Bernadino and the upper zones of the chapel of San Biagio in SS Nazaro e Celso (with Giovanni Maria Falconetto, Francesco Morone, Girolamo Mocetto and others). All are much damaged, and scholars differ as to which portions Domenico himself painted, but all display a large-scale mastery of Mantegnesque perspectival and decorative effects. Unenterprising by comparison are Domenico's signed and dated frescoes from the oratory of San Nicola at Paladon (Standing Saints, 1502; Verona, Castelvecchio). Not so the workshop's best-preserved fresco cycle, dated 1503, in the monastery library of San Bernadino. It depicts Franciscan saints and doctors as life-size friars on illusionistic pedestals and gives one whole wall to a panoramic, quasi-narrative Virgin and Child with Saints and Donors in a Landscape. The concept's originality and the figures' homely naturalism are both remarkable. The few paintings attributable to Domenico after this date show a decline in quality, and he seemingly painted little in his last years.

Domenico Morone is traditionally and rightly considered a pioneer of Renaissance painting in Verona. His personal contribution is difficult to appraise more precisely because so few documented works survive, most of them seriously damaged and many of them collaborative. They suggest a capable and versatile practitioner who infused a basically Mantegnesque style with a distinctively earthy realism. He established points of departure for the next generation of Veronese painters: his son Francesco, Michele da Verona, the brothers Caroto and Girolamo dai Libri.

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