Giovanni Cariani

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Giovanni Cariani, A Concert, oil on canvas, 92 x 130 cm, c. 1518-1520. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Giovanni Cariani (c. 1490–1547), also known as Giovanni Busi or Il Cariani, was an Italian painter of the high-Renaissance, active in Venice and the Venetian mainland, including Bergamo, thought to be his native city.


His father, also Giovanni Busi, was born in Fuipiano Al Brembo which is an hamlet of San Giovanni Bianco (Bergamo), and was appointed a local magistrate for the Venetian authorities. His son, also born in Fuipiano Al Brembo, is known to have lived in Venice starting in 1509, and may have trained with either Giovanni Bellini or Giorgione, and almost certainly was influenced by them. Though he worked often in Bergamo, he died in Venice in 1547. He was strongly influenced by Palma il Vecchio, but had a provincial love of scenery as seen in his Sacra conversazione with a youthful donor. While working in Bergamo (1517–1523), he likely overlapped with Lorenzo Lotto, who worked there from 1513-1525.

Cariani and the Courtesans[edit]

The 1987 BBC Two television play Cariani and the Courtesans, written and directed by Leslie Megahey, presented a fictionalised account of the painter's time in Venice, with Cariani (Paul McGann) interacting with other historical characters, such as Tullia d'Aragona (Diana Quick), Marcantonio Raimondi (Simon Callow), and Francesco Albani (Michael Gough), with a brief "cameo" by Albrecht Dürer (Frederik de Groot), and narrated by Charles Gray. The narrative is woven around the painting of a number of his works, principally Four Courtesans and Three Gentlemen.[1]

Partial anthology of works[edit]


  • Freedberg, Sydney J. (1993). Pelican History of Art, ed. Painting in Italy, 1500-1600. Penguin Books Ltd. pp. 338–340. 
  • "Some Venetian Portraits in English Possession," Herbert Cook, The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs (1906) page 343-344.

External links[edit]