(b Grisone [Grizane], c.1498; d Rome, 3 Jan. 1578). Italian illuminator and painter, born in Croatia, which at this time was part of Venetian territory. He moved to Italy in 1516 and spent most of his career in Rome, although he also worked in several other cities. Clovio was the outstanding Italian illuminator of the 16th century and enjoyed a very high contemporary reputation—his friend Vasari described him as a ‘Michelangelo of small works’.
His illuminations do indeed make frequent use of motifs from the work of Michelangelo and Raphael, adapting the fashionable Mannerist style to a miniature scale. From 1540 he worked mainly for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, to whom he recommended the young El Greco. El Greco painted Clovio's portrait (c.1570, Mus. di Capodimonte, Naples), showing him holding the Farnese Hours (c.1546, Morgan Lib., New York), the manuscript that is generally regarded as his masterpiece. In addition to illuminations, he sometimes painted small independent pictures (Pietà, 1551, Uffizi, Florence).
Text Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)