Carlo Crivelli was born around 1435 in Venice. The only dates that can with certainty be given about his life are 1468 and 1493: these are, respectively, the earliest and the latest years signed on his pictures--the former on an altar-piece in the church of San Silvestro at Massa near Fermo, and the latter on a picture in the Oggioni collection in Milan.
Though born in Venice, Crivelli seems to have worked chiefly in Ancona, and especially in and near Ascoli; there are only two pictures in Venice, in the church of San Sebastiano. He is said to have studied under Jacobello del Fiore, who was painting as late at any rate as 1436; at that time Crivelli was probably only a boy. The latter always signed as Carolus Crivellus Venetus; from 1490 he added Miles, having been then knighted (Cavalière) by Ferdinand II of Naples. He painted in tempera only, and is seen to most advantage in subject pictures of moderate size.
Unlike the naturalistic trends arising from Florence at the same time, Crivelli's style still echoes the Byzantine styles. The urban settings are jewel-like, elaborately detailed, and full of allegorical detail.
He introduced agreeable landscape backgrounds; and was particularly partial to giving fruits and flowers as accessories, often in pendent festoons. The National Gallery, London is well supplied with examples of Crivelli; the Annunciation with St Emidius, and the Beato Ferretti (of the same family as Pope Pius IX) in religious ecstasy, may be specified. Another of his principal pictures is in San Francesco di Matelica; in Berlin is a Madonna and Saints (1491); in the Vatican Gallery a Dead Christ, and in the Brera of Milan the painters own portrait, with other examples.
Despite his Venetian birth, his paintings have a linear Umbrian quality. Crivelli is a painter of marked individuality, hard in form, crudely definite in contour; stern, and sometimes admitting into his pictures objects actually raised in surface; distinct and warm in color. His pictures gain by being seen in half-light, and at some little distance. Few artists seem to have worked with more uniformity of purpose, or more forthright command of his materials, so far as they go. It is surmised that Carlo was of the same family as the painters Donato Crivelli (who was working in 1459, and was also a scholar of Jacobello) and Vittorio Crivelli. Pietro Alamanni was his pupil.
Carlo Crivelli died in Naples around 1495.