Paolo Veneziano was one of the first distinctive Venetian painters. Situated on the main sea trade routes to Africa and the East, Venice was deeply inspired by the art and culture of the Middle East and Greece and the churches and palaces of Constantinople. Constantinople's Byzantinemosaics, with their brightly colored glass and golden backgrounds, informed his paintings, many of which were altarpieces. Unlike the clear-cut forms of the school of Tuscany, Paolo's Venetian works are rich, luxurious webs of colors and lines.
Paolo belonged to a family of painters, operated a large workshop, and collaborated closely with his sons. Like many artists of his time, his paintings range from works completely by his own hand to those produced by the workshop; such distinctions were not recognized as important by the artists' patrons. One of the most sought-after panel painters of fourteenth-century Italy, Paolo influenced nearly all the younger Venetian painters of his day.