Though first documented in 1449 as a painter in a workshop in Venice, Lazzaro Bastiani may have received his youthful training in Padua. His early paintings show the influence of Andrea Mantegna's style, with an interest in classical antiquity and rounded, sculptural forms.
In Venice, Bastiani seems to have gravitated into the circle of artists working around Mantegna's in-laws, the Bellini family. In the 1460s he may have collaborated with Giovanni Bellini on three triptychs for a major Venetian church. In the 1480s he worked with Gentile Bellini for the Scuola Grande di San Marco, a confraternity dedicated to doing good works. Bastiani's paintings from this time show an interest in depicting space in rigorous perspective. Disputing the extent of Bastiani's body of work, scholars have reattributed some of his early paintings to the young Giovanni Bellini.