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Altichiero, also called Aldighieri da Zevio, or simply Altichiero of Verona, was born around 1330 somewhere near Zevio, Italy. He was a painter reflecting the art of that period, in other words, the late Byzantine style (note the Byzantine Madonna). But he is considered a proto-Renaissance painter, the effective founder of the Veronese school and perhaps the most significant northern Italian artist of the 14th century.
So what was the Veronese school? It is a school of art following in Giotto’s (1267/1276 – 1337) footsteps, breaking with the static Byzantine style of art by the creation of dynamic, life-like figures, with an intuitive sense of perspective. This resulted in the first truly three-dimensional images.
By March 1369 Altichiero was already a practicing painter living in Verona where he painted frescoes in the Scaglieri palace, as described by Vasari, who documented the history of Renaissance painters in his Lives of the Artists, written during the Renaissance. I will reference this book often.
Fresco is the technique of mural painting on freshly laid lime plaster. Water is used as the vehicle for the pigment and, with the setting of the plaster, the painting becomes an integral part of the wall. Regrettably, Altichiero’s early frescoes were destroyed by the early eighteenth century, as was the Coronation of the Virgin in the church of the Eremitani in Padua, by Allied bombing towards the end of World War II.
Altichiero’s major surviving works are all frescoes. The first cycle in the church of Sant’Antonio, probably painted in collaboration with another artist, was completed in 1379. It includes a Crucifixion and scenes from the life of St. James, The second series of frescoes, in the neighboring Oratorio di San Giorgio, were completed in 1384, and show scenes from the lives of St. George and other saints . These frescoes show a style similar to Giotto in the portrayal of
related figures with a real sense of vitality. A restoration has revealed beauty and originality, a clear narrative, good portraiture, soft wonderful color, and clever anecdotal detail, all in elaborate late Gothic architectural settings.
He died around 1390, it is assumed in Verona.