Artibus et Historiae no. 68 (XXXIV)

2013, ISSN 0391-9064

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MAURO LUCCO - Out of the Shadow of Bonifacio Veronese: Stefano Cernotto Revealed (pp. 165-201)

Three paintings in the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice, one of which is signed ‘Stephano Cernoto’ and dated 1536, have hitherto formed the entire catalogue of works of this artist of Dalmatian origin. And, as they come from a room in Palazzo dei Camerlenghi in Venice, an undertaking almost in its entirety executed by the shop of Bonifacio Veronese, and as the room itself was additionally decorated with canvases by Bonifacio, also the author of the three paintings was considered to be a de’Pitati’s pupil and at the same time a collaborator of his prolific workshop. Although a thorough re-evaluation of documents relevant to the painter has not revealed any substantial novelties, it has helped to better establish the chronological and territorial ambits of his artistic activity, which must be narrowed to the period from about 1525 to 1541 and the area of Venice, with brief flights into the province of upper Treviso.

With those secured dates as a point of departure, the identification of works by the artist’s hand, made by the present author as a result of a research of about thirty-five years, has allowed to compile a fairly consistent corpus of Cernotto, who was repeatedly mistaken for Francesco Vecellio or Polidoro da Lanciano. Additionally, the present study discusses what was considered the key work in Francesco Vecellio’s catalogue, one that for many years had been considered to be homeless, and was apparently never seen by scholars, but which allows to better make out the differences between Cernotto, Vecellio and Polidoro. From this follows that, contrary to what has hitherto been assumed, Stefano Cernotto was not Bonifacio’s pupil, but was trained in the shop of Titian around 1520, a fact that is consistent with a passage by Marcantonio Michiel of 1532, who wrote about a so far never precisely identified ‘Stefano, discepolo de Tiziano’. Furthermore, there is plenty of evidence in Cernotto’s work for his intelligent study of the works by Palma il Vecchio and Savoldo.

After having written the present study, the author, found also other works by the painter, and the catalogue of Cernotto’s works, which are fairly easy to identify, will surely grow.

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