Giovanni Battista Cima, also called Cima da Conegliano, (circa 1459 – c. 1517) was an Italian Renaissance painter. His paintings are mostly quiet devotional scenes, often in landscape settings, in the manner of Giovanni Bellini. He has been called 'the poor man's Bellini', but because of his calm and weighty figures he was also known in the 18th century as 'the Venetian Masaccio'.

 Giovanni Battista Cima was born at Conegliano, now part of the province of Treviso, in 1459 or 1460. His father, who died in 1484, was a cimator (cloth-shearer), hence the family surname. In 1488 the young painter was at work at Vicenza; in 1492 he established himself at Venice, but by the summer of 1516 he had returned to his native place. Cima married twice, his first wife, Corona, bore him two sons, the older of whom took Holy orders at Padua. By Joanna, his second wife, he had six children, three being daughters.

His oldest painting inscribed with a date is the "Madonna of the Arbour" (1489). This picture is done in distemper and savours so much of the style of Bartolomeo Montagna, who lived at Vicenza from 1480, as to make it highly probable that Cima was his pupil. Even in this early production Cima gave evidence of the serious calm, and almost passionless spirit that so eminently characterized him. Later he fell under the spell of the great Giovanni Bellini and became one of his ablest successors, forming a happy, if not indispensable link between this master and Titian.

At first his figures were somewhat crude, but they gradually lost their harshness and gained in grace while still preserving the dignity. In the background of his facile, harmonious compositions the mountains of his country are invested with new importance. Cima was one of the first Italians to assign a place for landscape depiction, and to formulate the laws of atmosphere and of the distribution of light and shade. His "Baptism of Christ" in the church of S. Giovanni in Bragora, gives striking evidence of this. This colouring is rich and right with a certain silvery tone peculiar to Cima, but which in his later works merges into a delicate gold. His conceptions are usually calm and undramatic, and he has painted scarcely any scenes (having depicted religious ones almost exclusively) that are not suggestive of 'sante conversazioni' ('holy conversations'). His "Incredulity of St. Thomas" and his beautiful "Nativity" are hardly aught else. But most of his paintings represent Madonnas enthroned among the elect. In these subjects he observes a gently animated symmetry and the impression of unspeakable peace. Such are, among others, the magnificent "Madonna Montinini"; the "Madonna with Four Saints", and the smaller "Virgin and Child Enthroned with St. John the Baptist and the Magdalen", which was Cima's last bequest as poet and landscape painter


"The Annunciation" (1495) Tempera on canvas, transferred from wood, 137 × 107 cm - 53.9 x 42.1 in. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia.



"Presentation of the Virgin Mary at the Temple" (1496-1497) Oil on panel, 105 cm × 145 cm - 41 × 57 in. Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden, Germany.



"St Christopher with the Infant Christ and St Peter" (1504-06) Oil on poplar panel, 73 x 56 cm - 28.7 x 22 in. Private collection.



"Incredulity of St Thomas with Bishop Magno (detail)" (circa 1505) Tempera and oil on panel, 215 x 151 cm - 84.6 x 59.4 in. Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice, Italy.



"Madonna and Child" (1496-99) Oil on canvas, 65 x 53 cm - 25.6 x 20.9 in. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia.



"The Madonna and Child with Sts John the Baptist and Mary Magdalen (detail)" (1511-13) Wood, 167 x 110 cm - 65.7 x 43.3 in. Musée du Louvre, Paris, France.

Text source: 'Wikipedia' ( and others.

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Related Terms: Renaissance, Atmospheric Perspective, Shade.


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