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Born in Venice and trained in Padua, Carlo Crivelli worked initially on both sides of the Adriatic Sea. He finally settled in Ascoli Piceno, in the mountainous region of the Marche in central Italy. There he had a successful career as a painter of religious works, mainly large altarpieces. 

Crivelli’s works are characterised by a strong tension between the real and the unreal, making him one of the most original painters of 15th-century Italy. He wanted to convince the viewers of his paintings that the holy figures he depicted had really lived, while at the same time conveying their divinity. Crivelli’s pictures are remarkable both for their still-life details, such as beautifully observed plants, creatures and carpets, and for their ornate decoration, including gilding.

Cima da Conegliano was an equally productive artist. He grew up in the hill town from which he took his name, but spent most of his life in Venice, working there and for Venice’s subject cities on the Italian mainland. Cima’s work is indebted to Giovanni Bellini, with whom he probably trained. His beautifully crafted religious paintings are notable for their landscapes, their sense of equilibrium and the almost sculptural solidity of the figures.