Giorgio del Castelfranco
Art on This Day
Giorgione, also called Giorgio da Castelfranco was an extremely influential Italian painter who was one of the initiators of a High Renaissance style in Venetian art. He is known for the elusive poetic quality of his work, though only about six surviving paintings are acknowledged for certain to be his work. The resulting uncertainty about the identity and meaning of his art has made Giorgione one of the most mysterious figures in European painting.
“The Tempest” is a milestone in Renaissance landscape painting. Here is the kind of poetic interpretation of nature that the Renaissance writers Pietro Bembo and Jacopo Sannazzaro evoked. The painting portrays a soldier and a breast-feeding woman on either side of a stream, amid a city's rubble and an incoming storm. The multitude of symbols in The Tempest offer many interpretations, but none is wholly satisfying. Theories that the painting is about duality (city and country, male and female) have been dismissed since radiography has shown that in the earlier stages of the painting the soldier to the left was a seated female nude.
Girgione was very closely associated with Titian; Giorgio Vasari says Giorgione was Titian's master, while Carlo Ridolfi says they both were pupils of Giovanni Bellini, and lived in his house. They worked together on the Fondaco dei Tedeschi frescoes, and Titian finished at least some paintings of Giorgione after his death, although which ones remains very controversial.
Though Giorgione died at the age of 32 or 33, Giorgione left a lasting legacy to be developed by Titian and 17th-century artists. He never subordinated line and colour to architecture, nor an artistic effect to a sentimental presentation. He was arguably the first Italian to paint landscapes with figures as movable pictures in their own frames with no devotional, allegorical, or historical purpose — and the first whose colours possessed that ardent, glowing, and melting intensity which was so soon to typify the work of all the Venetian School.
He died today in 1510.
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