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Archival Sources on Ivan Vulić (Ivan de Lupis), a Painter and a Notary of Šibenik
Šibenik’s painter Ivan Vulić (Ivan de Lupis), who was active in the first third of the 16th century, has so far remained completely unknown to the professional public, so his name is not mentioned in any list of Dalmatian painters. However, the archival material, where he is mentioned in over two hundred documents, reveals an interesting and complex personality, a local master whose craft could not provide him a satisfactory living, so he changed his profession and became a notary, Latinizing his surname. But despite his change of profession, he continued to paint as well.
The life and painting career of Ivan Vulić can be traced through archival documents from 1509 to 1531. As is usual in sets of archival materials, most of the documents relate to various private affairs or appearances in the role of a witness, and only a very small part has to do with his artistic activity. However, a number of contracts directly related to painting show that throughout this period, Ivan Vulić (de Lupis) was almost continuously active as a painter, and actually seems to have been the only serious local painter in Šibenik during the first third of the 16th century. Over the course of fifteen years, a total of five painting engagements were recorded. On September 5, 1511, representatives of the Fraternity of Sailors of St Nicholas and painter Ivan Vulić appointed estimators for the value of his painting on a cabinet of the said fraternity, on April 16, 1513, Jakov Kosirić, on behalf of Vladan Rutčić from Vrana, paid the painter for some work on an altarpiece, and on April 13, 1515, Vulić sold to Ivan Milošević from Zaton a painting of the Virgin Mary for eighteen librae, which he could pay in three instalments of six librae. On May 12, 1522, notary Ivan de Lupis agreed to paint an altar by the end of September, that is, the chapel of St Clare in St Francis’ church in Šibenik, with three scenes from the life of St Clare, for the price of one hundred librae. Finally, on December 8, 1524, painter Ivan de Lupis agreed with the representatives of St Mary of Kaštel to paint an altarpiece for Our Lady’s Chapel depicting the Virgin and Child in the middle, St John the Evangelist and St Andrew to the right, and St Simeon and St Nicholas to the left. On the upper part of the altarpiece, he was to paint the Annunciation, and on the wings St Paul to the left and St Jerome to the right. He was also to produce four cassettes for the ceiling and four evangelists with gilded haloes, and paint four candlesticks. All work was to be completed by the end of May, with a contract price of twenty-six ducats.
Although these orders may seem minor, they show that the local painting production in Šibenik did not stop with the death of Juraj Čulinović, but continued, although in a far more modest form, to cater for those modest needs for paintings that still existed in the difficult historical circumstances of the first third of the 16th century. The hitherto unknown painter Ivan Vulić (Ivan de Lupis), although apparently a minor local master, was nevertheless one of the last figures of the “Dalmatian painting school.”
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