Part 1 out of 3
Produced by Dave Morgan, Wilelmina Malliere and the Online Distributed
[Illustration: Art Repro Co.
Madonna & Child with two Saints.
From the painting by Giorgione at Castelfranco.]
HERBERT COOK, M.A., F.S.A.
"Born half-way between the mountains and the sea--that young George
of Castelfranco--of the Brave Castle: Stout George they called him,
George of Georges, so goodly a boy he was--Giorgione."
(RUSKIN: _Modern Painters_, vol. V. pt. IX. ch. IX.)
_First Published, November 1900 Second Edition, revised, with new
Appendix, February 1904._
Unlike most famous artists of the past, Giorgione has not yet found a
modern biographer. The whole trend of recent criticism has, in his case,
been to destroy not to fulfil. Yet signs are not wanting that the
disintegrating process is at an end, and that we have reached the point
where reconstruction may be attempted. The discovery of documents and
the recovery of lost pictures in the last few years have increased the
available material for a more comprehensive study of the artist, and the
time has come when the divergent results arrived at by independent
modern inquirers may be systematically arranged, and a reconciliation of
apparently conflicting views attempted on a psychological basis.
Crowe and Cavalcaselle were the first to examine the subject critically.
They separated--so far as was then possible (1871)--the real from the
traditional Giorgione, and their account of his life and works must
still rank as the nearest equivalent to a modern biography. Morelli, who
followed in 1877, was in singular sympathy with his task, and has
written of his favourite master enthusiastically, yet with consummate
judgment. Among living authorities, Dr. Gronau, Herr Wickhoff, Signor
Venturi, and Mr. Bernhard Berenson have contributed effectively to the
elucidation of obscure or disputed points, and the latter writer has
probably come nearer than anyone to recognise the scope of Giorgione's
art, and grasp the man behind his work. The monograph by Signor Conti
and the chapter in Pater's _Renaissance_ may be read for their delicate
appreciations of the "Giorgionesque"; other contributions on the subject
will be found in the Bibliography.
It is absolutely necessary for those whose judgment depends upon a study
of the actual pictures to be constantly registering and adjusting their
impressions. I have personally seen and studied all the pictures I
believe to be by Giorgione, with the exception of those at St.
Petersburg; and many galleries and churches where they hang have been
visited repeatedly, and at considerable intervals of time. If in the
course of years my individual impressions (where they deviate from
hitherto recognised views) fail to stand the test of time, I shall be
the first to admit their inadequacy. If, on the other hand, they prove
sound, some of the mists which at present envelop the figure of
Giorgione will have been dispersed.
NOTE TO THE SECOND EDITION
To this Edition an Appendix has been added, containing--(1) an article
by the Author on the age of Titian, which was published in the
_Nineteenth Century_ of January 1902; (2) the translation of a reply by
Dr. Georg Gronau, published in the _Repertorium fuer Kunstwissenschaft_;
(3) a further reply by the Author, published in the same German
The writer wishes to acknowledge his indebtedness to the Editors of the
_Nineteenth Century_ and of the _Repertorium_ for permission to reprint
A better photograph of the "Portrait of an Unknown Man" at Temple Newsam
has now been taken (p. 87), and sundry footnotes have been added to
bring the text up to date.
ESHER, _January 1904_.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Chapter I. GIORGIONE'S LIFE
II. GIORGIONE'S GENERALLY ACCEPTED WORKS
III. INTERMEDIATE SUMMARY
IV. ADDITIONAL PICTURES--PORTRAITS
V. ADDITIONAL PICTURES--OTHER SUBJECTS
VI. GIORGIONE'S ART, AND PLACE IN HISTORY
APPENDIX II--THE AGE OF TITIAN
CATALOGUE OF WORKS
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Madonna, with SS. Francis and Liberale. _Castelfranco_.
Adrastus and Hypsipyle. _Palazzo Giovanelli, Venice_
Aeneas, Evander, and Pallas. _Vienna Gallery_
The Judgment of Solomon. _Uffizi Gallery_
The Trial of Moses. _Uffizi Gallery_
Christ bearing the Cross. _Collection of Mrs. Gardner, Boston, U.S.A._
Knight of Malta. _Uffizi Gallery_
The Adoration of the Shepherds. _Vienna Gallery_
The Judgment of Solomon. _Collection of Mrs. Ralph Bankes, Kingston
Portrait of a Young Man. _Berlin Gallery_
Portrait of a Man. _Buda-Pesth Gallery_
Portrait of a Lady. _Borghese Gallery, Rome_
Apollo and Daphne. _Seminario, Venice_
Venus. _Dresden Gallery_
Judith. _Hermitage Gallery, St. Petersburg_
Pastoral Symphony. _Louvre, Paris_
The Three Ages. _Pitti Gallery_
Nymph and Satyr. _Pitti Gallery_
Madonna, with SS. Roch and Francis. _Prado, Madrid_
The Birth of Paris--Copy of a portion. _Buda-Pesth Gallery_
Shepherd Boy. _Hampton Court_
Portrait of a Man. (By Torbido) _Padua Gallery_
The Concert. _Pitti Gallery_
The Adoration of the Magi (or Epiphany). _National Gallery_
Christ bearing the Cross. _Collection of Duke of Devonshire, Chatsworth._
(Sketch by Vandyck, after the original by Giorgione in S. Rocco, Venice)
Mythological Scenes. Two _Cassone_ pieces _Padua Gallery_
Portrait of "Ariosto". _Collection of the Earl of Darnley, Cobham Hall_
Portrait of Caterina Cornaro. _Collection of Signor Crespi, Milan_
Bust of Caterina Cornaro. _Pourtales Collection, Berlin_
Portrait of "A Poet". _National Gallery_
Portrait of a Man. _Querini-Stampalia Gallery, Venice_
Portrait of a Man. _Collection of the Hon. Mrs. Meynell-Ingram, Temple
Portrait of "Parma, the Physician". _Vienna Gallery_
Orpheus and Eurydice. _Bergamo Gallery_
The Golden Age (?). _National Gallery_
Venus and Adonis. _National Gallery_
Holy Family. _Collection of Mr. Robert Benson, London_
The "Gipsy" Madonna. _Vienna Gallery_
Madonna. _Collection of Mr. Robert Benson, London_
The Adulteress before Christ. _Glasgow Gallery_
Madonna and Saints. _Louvre, Paris_
ANONIMO. "Notizia d'opere di disegno." Ed. Frizzoni. Bologna, 1884.
_Archivio Storico dell' Arte_ (now _L'Arte_), 1888, p. 47. (See also
_Art Journal_. 1895. p. 90. (Dr. Richter.)
BERENSON, B. "Venetian Painting at the New Gallery." 1895. (Privately
printed.) "Venetian Painters of the Renaissance." Third edition, 1897.
Putnam, London. _Gazette des Beaux Arts_, 1897, p. 279.
BURCKHARDT. "Cicerone." Sixth edition, 1893. (Dr. Bode.)
CONTI, A. "Giorgione, Studio." Florence, 1894.
CROWE AND CAVALCASELLE. "History of Painting in North Italy," vol. ii.
London, 1871. "Life of Titian." Two vols.
FRY, ROGER. "Giovanni Bellini." London, 1899.
GRONAU, DR. G. _Gazette des Beaux Arts_, 1894, p. 332. _Repertorium fuer
Kunstwissenschaft_, xviii. 4, p. 284. "Zorzon da Castelfranco. La sua
origine, la sua morte, e tomba." Venice, 1894. "Tizian." Berlin, 1900.
LAFENESTRE, G. "La vie et l'oeuvre de Titien." Paris, 1886.
LOGAN, MARY. "Guide to the Italian Pictures at Hampton Court." London,
_Magazine of Art_, 1890, pp. 91 and 138. (Sir W. Armstrong.) 1893.
April. (Mr. W.F. Dickes.)
MORELLI, GIOVANNI. "Italian Painters." Translated by C.J. Ffoulkes.
London, 1892. Vols. i. and ii. _passim_.
MUeNTZ, E. "La fin de la Renaissance." Paris.
New Gallery Catalogue of Exhibition of Venetian Art, 1895.
PATER, W. "The Renaissance." Chapter on the School of Giorgione. London,
PHILLIPS, CLAUDE. _Gazette des Beaux Arts_, 1884, p. 286. _Magazine of
Art_, July 1895. "The Picture Gallery of Charles I." (_Portfolio_,
January 1896). "The Earlier Work of Titian" (_Portfolio_, October 1897).
_North American Review_, October 1899.
_Repertorium fuer Kunstwissenschaft_. Bd. xiv. p. 316. (Herr von
Seidlitz.) Bd. xix. Hft. 6. (Dr. Harck.)
RIDOLFI, C. "Le Maraviglie dell' arte della pittura." Venice, 1648.
Royal Academy. Catalogues of the Exhibitions of Old Masters.
VASARI. "Le Vite." Ed. Sansoni. Florence, 1879. Translation edited by
Blashfield and Hopkins, with Notes. London, 1897.
VENTURI, ADOLFO. _Archivio Storico dell' Arte_, vi. 409, 412. _L'Arte_,
1900, p. 24, etc. "La Galleria Crespi in Milano," 1900.
WICKHOFF, F. _Gazette des Beaux Arts_, 1893, p. 135. _Jahrbuch der
Preussischen Kunstsammlungen_, 1895. Heft i.
ZANETTI, A. "Varie Pitture," etc., with engravings of some fragments
from the Fondaco de' Tedeschi frescoes, 1760.
Apart from tradition, very few ascertained facts are known to us as to
Giorgione's life. The date of his birth is conjectural, there being but
Vasari's unsupported testimony that he died in his thirty-fourth year.
Now we know from unimpeachable sources that his death happened in
October-November 1510, so that, assuming Vasari's statement to be
correct, Giorgione will have been born in 1477.
The question of his birthplace and origin has been in great dispute.
Without going into the evidence at length, we may accept with some
degree of certainty the results at which recent German research has
arrived. Dr. Gronau's conclusion is that Giorgione was the son (or
grandson) of a certain Giovanni, called Giorgione of Castelfranco, who
came originally from the village of Vedelago in the march of Treviso.
This Giovanni was living at Castelfranco, of which he was a citizen, in
1460, and there, probably, Giorgione his son (or grandson) was born some
seventeen years later.
The tradition that the artist was a natural son of one of the great
Barbarella family, and that in consequence he was called Barbarelli, is
now shown to be false. This cognomen is first found in 1648, in
Ridolfi's book, to which, in 1697, the picturesque addition was made
that his mother was a peasant girl of Vedelago. None of the earlier
writers or contemporary documents ever allude to such an origin, or
speak of "Barbarelli," but always of "Zorzon de Castelfrancho," "Zorzi
da Castelfranco," and the like,
We may take it as certain that Giorgione spent the whole of his short
life in Venice and the neighbourhood. Unlike Titian, whose busy career
was marked by constant journeyings and ever fresh incidents, the young
Castelfrancan passed a singularly calm and uneventful life. Untroubled,
apparently, by the storm and stress of the political world about him, he
devoted himself with a whole-hearted simplicity to the advancement of
his art. Like Leonardo, he early won fame for his skill in music, and
Vasari tells us the gifted young lute-player was a welcome guest in
distinguished circles. Although of humble origin, he must have possessed
a singular charm of manner, and a comeliness of person calculated to
find favour, particularly with the fair sex. He early found a
quasi-royal friend and patroness in Caterina Cornaro, ex-Queen of
Cyprus, whose portrait he painted, and whose recommendation, as I
believe, secured for him important commissions in the like field. But we
may leave Giorgione's art for fuller discussion in the following
chapters, and only note here two outside events which were not without
importance in the young artist's career.
The one was the visit paid by Leonardo to Venice in the year 1500.
Vasari tells us "Giorgione had seen certain works from the hand of
Leonardo, which were painted with extraordinary softness, and thrown
into powerful relief, as is said, by extreme darkness of the shadows, a
manner which pleased him so much that he ever after continued to imitate
it, and in oil painting approached very closely to the excellence of his
model." This statement has been combated by Morelli, but although
historical evidence is wanting that the two men ever actually met, there
is nothing improbable in Vasari's account. Leonardo certainly came to
Venice for a short time in 1500, and it would be perfectly natural to
find the young Venetian, then in his twenty-fourth year, visiting the
great Florentine, long a master of repute, and from him, or from
"certain works of his," taking hints for his own practice.
The second event of moment to which allusion may here be made was the
great conflagration in the year 1504, when the Exchange of the German
Merchants was burnt. This building, known as the Fondaco de' Tedeschi,
occupying one of the finest sites on the Grand Canal, was rebuilt by
order of the Signoria, and Giorgione received the commission to decorate
the facade with frescoes. The work was completed by 1508, and became the
most celebrated of all the artist's creations. The Fondaco still stands
to-day, but, alas! a crimson stain high up on the wall is all that
remains to us of these great frescoes, which were already in decay when
Vasari visited Venice in 1541.
Other work of the kind--all long since perished--Giorgione undertook
with success. The Soranzo Palace, the Palace of Andrea Loredano, the
Casa Flangini, and elsewhere, were frescoed with various devices, or
ornamented with monochrome friezes.
We know nothing of Giorgione's home life; he does not appear to have
married, or to have left descendants. Vasari speaks of "his many friends
whom he delighted by his admirable performance in music," and his death
caused "extreme grief to his many friends to whom he was endeared by his
excellent qualities." He enjoyed prosperity and good health, and was
called Giorgione "as well from the character of his person as for the
exaltation of his mind."
He died of plague in the early winter of 1510, and was probably buried
with other victims on the island of Poveglia, off Venice, where the
lazar-house was situated. The tradition that his bones were removed
in 1638 and buried at Castelfranco in the family vault of the Barbarelli
is devoid of foundation, and was invented to round off the story of his
supposed connection with the family.
 See Appendix, where the documents are quoted in full.
 Vasari gives 1478 (1477 in his first edition) and 1511 as the years
of his birth and death. Crowe and Cavalcaselle, and Dr. Bode prefer to
say "before 1477," a supposition which would make his precocity less
phenomenal, and help to explain some chronological difficulties (see p.
 _Zorzon da Castelfranco. La sua origine, la sua morte e tomba_, by
Dr. Georg Gronau. Venice, 1894.
 Vide _Repertorium fuer Kunstwissenschaft_, xix. 2, p. 166. [Dr.
 It would seem, therefore, desirable to efface the name of Barbarelli
from the catalogues. The National Gallery, for example, registers
Giorgione's work under this name.
 The translation given is that of Blashfield and Hopkins's edition.
 M. Muentz adduces strong arguments in favour of this view (_La fin de
la Renaissance_, p. 600).
 The name "Giorgione" signifies "Big George." But it seems to have
been also his father's name.
 This visitation claimed no less than 20,000 victims.
 See Gronau, _op. cit_. Tradition has been exceptionally busy over
Giorgione's affairs. The story goes that he died of grief at being
betrayed by his friend and pupil, Morto da Feltre, who had robbed him of
his mistress. This is now proved false by the document quoted in the
GENERALLY ACCEPTED WORKS
Such, then, very briefly, are the facts of Giorgione's life recorded by
the older biographers, or known by contemporary documents. Now let us
turn to his artistic remains, the _disjecta membra_, out of which we may
reconstruct something of the man himself; for, to those who can
interpret it aright, a man's work is his best autobiography.
This is especially true in the case of an artist of Giorgione's
temperament, for his expression is so peculiarly personal, so highly
charged with individuality, that every product of mental activity
becomes a revelation of the man himself. People like Giorgione must
express themselves in certain ways, and these ways are therefore
characteristic. Some people regard a work of art as something external;
a great artist, they say, can vary his productions at will, he can paint
in any style he chooses. But the exact contrary is the truth. The
greater the artist, the less he can divest himself of his own
personality; his work may vary in degree of excellence, but not in kind.
The real reason, therefore, why it is impossible for certain pictures to
be by Giorgione is, not that they are not _good_ enough for him, but
that they are not _characteristic_. I insist on this point, because in
the matter of genuineness the touchstone of authenticity is so often to
be looked for in an answer to the question: Is this or that
characteristic? The personal equation is the all-important factor to be
recognised; it is the connecting link which often unites apparently
diverse phenomena, and explains what would otherwise appear to be
There is an intimate relation then between the artist and his work, and,
rightly interpreted, the latter can tell us much about the former.
Let us turn to Giorgione's work. Here we are brought face to face with
an initial difficulty, the great difficulty, in fact, which has stood so
much in the way of a more comprehensive understanding of the master, I
mean, that scarcely anything of his work is authenticated. Three
pictures alone have never been called in question by contending critics;
outside this inner ring is more or less debatable ground, and on this
wider arena the battle has raged until scarcely a shred of the painter's
work has emerged unscathed. The result has been to reduce the figure of
Giorgione to a shadowy myth, whose very existence, at the present rate
at which negative criticism progresses, will assuredly be called in
If Bacon wrote Shakespeare, then Giorgione can be divided up between a
dozen Venetian artists, who "painted Giorgione." Fortunately three
pictures survive which refuse to be fitted in anywhere else except under
"Giorgione." This is the irreducible minimum, [Greek: _o anankaiotatos_]
Giorgione, with which we must start.
* * * * *
Of the three universally accepted pictures, first and foremost comes the
Castelfranco altar-piece, according to Mr. Ruskin "one of the two most
perfect pictures in existence; alone in the world as an imaginative
representation of Christianity, with a monk and a soldier on either side
... " This great picture was painted before 1504, when the artist
was only twenty-seven years of age, a fact which clearly proves that
his genius must have developed early. For not even a Giorgione can
produce such a masterpiece without a long antecedent course of training
and accomplishment. This is not the place to inquire into the nature and
character of the works which lead up to this altar-piece, for a
chronological survey ought to follow, not precede, an examination of all
available material; it is important, nevertheless, to bear in mind that
quite ten years had been passed in active work ere Giorgione produced
If no other evidence were forthcoming as to the sort of man the painter
was, this one production of his would for ever stamp him as a person of
exquisite feeling. There is a reserve, almost a reticence, in the way
the subject is presented, which indicates a refined mind. An atmosphere
of serenity pervades the scene, which conveys a sense of personal
tranquillity and calm. The figures are absorbed in their own thoughts;
they stand isolated apart, as though the painter wishes to intensify the
mood of dreamy abstraction. Nothing disquieting disturbs the scene,
which is one of profound reverie. All this points to Giorgione being a
man of moods, as we say; a lyric poet, whose expression is highly
charged with personal feeling, who appeals to the imagination rather
than to the intellect. And so, as we might expect, landscape plays an
important part in the composition; it heightens the pictorial effect,
not merely by providing a picturesque background, but by enhancing the
mood of serenity and solemn calm. Giorgione uses it as an instrument of
expression, blending nature and human nature into happy unison. The
effect of the early morning sun rising over the distant sea is of
indescribable charm, and invests the scene with a poetic glamour which,
as Morelli truly remarks, awakens devotional feelings. What must have
been the effect when it was first painted! for even five modern
restorations, under which the original work has been buried, have not
succeeded in destroying the hallowing charm. To enjoy similar effects we
must turn to the central Italian painters, to Perugino and Raphael;
certainly in Venetian art of pre-Giorgionesque times the like cannot be
found, and herein Giorgione is an innovator. Bellini, indeed, before him
had studied nature and introduced landscape backgrounds into his
pictures, but more for picturesqueness of setting than as an integral
part of the whole; they are far less suggestive of the mood appropriate
to the moment, less calculated to stir the imagination than to please
the eye. Nowhere, in short, in Venetian art up to this date is a lyrical
treatment of the conventional altar-piece so fully realised as in the
Technically, Giorgione proclaims himself no less an innovator. The
composition is on the lines of a perfect equilateral triangle, a scheme
which Bellini and the older Venetian artists never adopted. So
simple a scheme required naturally large and spacious treatment; flat
surfaces would be in place, and the draperies cast in ample folds.
Dignity of bearing, and majestic sweep of dress are appropriately
introduced; the colour is rich and harmonious, the preponderance of
various shades of green having a soothing effect on the eye. The golden
glow which doubtless once suffused the whole, has, alas! disappeared
under cruel restorations, and flatness of tone has inevitably resulted,
but we may still admire the play of light on horizontal surfaces, and
the chiaroscuro giving solidity and relief to the figures.
An interesting link with Bellini is seen in the S. Francis, for the
figure is borrowed from that master's altar-piece of S. Giobbe (now in
the Venice Academy). Bellini's S. Francis had been painted seventeen or
eighteen years before, and now we find Giorgione having recourse to the
older master for a pictorial motive. But, as though to assert his
independence, he has created in the S. Liberale a type of youthful
beauty and manliness which in turn became the prototype of subsequent
knightly figures. Palma Vecchio, Mareschalco, and Pennacchi all borrowed
it for their own use, a proof that Giorgione's altar-piece acquired an
[Illustration: _Anderson photo. Giovanelli Palace, Venice_
ADRASTUS AND HYPSIPYLE]
Exquisite feeling is equally conspicuous in the other two works
universally ascribed to Giorgione. These are the "Adrastus and
Hypsipyle," in the collection of Prince Giovanelli, in Venice, and
the "Aeneas, Evander, and Pallas," in the gallery at Vienna.
"The Giovanelli Figures," or "The Stormy Landscape, with the Soldier and
the Gipsy," as the picture has been commonly called since the days of
the Anonimo, who so described it in 1530, is totally unlike anything
that Venetian art of the pre-Giorgionesque era has to show. The painted
myth is a new departure, the creation of Giorgione's own brain, and as
such, is treated in a wholly unconventional manner. His peculiarly
poetical nature here finds full scope for display, his delicacy, his
refinement, his sensitiveness to the beauties of the outside world, find
fitting channels through which to express themselves. With what a spirit
of romance Giorgione has invested his picture! So exquisitely personal
is the mood, that the subject itself has taken his biographers nearly
four centuries to decipher! For the artist, it must be noted, does not
attempt to illustrate a passage of an ancient writer; very probably,
nay, almost certainly, he had never read the _Thebaid_ of Statius,
whence comes the story of Adrastus and Hypsipyle; the subject would have
been suggested to him by some friend, a student of the Classics, and
Giorgione thereupon dressed the old Greek myth in Venetian garb, just as
Statius had done in the Latin. The story is known to us only at
second hand, and we are at liberty to choose Giorgione's version in
preference to that of the Roman poet; each is an independent translation
of a common original, and certainly Giorgione's is not the less
poetical. He has created a painted lyric which is not an illustration
of, but a parallel presentation to the written poem of Statius.
Technically, the workmanship points to an earlier period than the
Castelfranco Madonna, and there is an exuberance of fancy which points
to a youthful origin. The figures are of slight and graceful build, the
composition easy and unstudied, with a tendency to adopt a triangular
arrangement in the grouping, the apex being formed by the storm scene,
to which the eye thus naturally reverts. The figures and the landscape
are brought into close relation by this subtle scheme, and the picture
becomes, not figures with landscape background, but landscape with
The reproduction unduly exaggerates the contrasts of light and shade,
and conveys little of the mellowness and richness of atmospheric effect
which characterise the original. Unlike the brilliance of colouring in
the Castelfranco picture, dark reds, browns, and greens here give a
sombre tone which is accentuated by the dullness of surface due to old
[Illustration: _Hanfstaengl photo. Vienna Gallery_
AENEAS, EVANDER, AND PALLAS]
"The Three Philosophers," or "The Chaldean Sages," as the picture at
Vienna has long been strangely named, shows the artist again treating a
classical story in his own fantastic way. Virgil has enshrined in verse
the legend of the arrival of the Trojan Aeneas in Italy, and
Giorgione depicts the moment when Evander, the aged seer-king, and his
son Pallas point out to the wanderer the site of the future Capitol.
Again we find the same poetical presentation, not representation, of a
legendary subject, again the same feeling for the beauties of nature.
How Giorgione has revelled in the glories of the setting sun, the long
shadows of the evening twilight, the tall-stemmed trees, the moss-grown
rock! The figures are but a pretext, we feel, for an idyllic scene,
where the story is subordinated to the expression of sensuous charm.
This work was seen by the Anonimo in 1525, in the house of Taddeo
Contarini at Venice. It was then believed to have been completed by
Sebastiano del Piombo, Giorgione's pupil. If so,--and there is no valid
reason to doubt the statement,--Giorgione left unfinished a picture on
which he was at work some years before his death, for the style clearly
indicates that the artist had not yet reached the maturity of his later
period. The figures still recall those of Bellini, the modelling is
close and careful, the forms compact, and reminiscent of the
quattrocento. It is noticeable that the type of the Pallas is identical
with that of S. John Baptist in Sebastiano's early altar-piece in S.
Giovanni Crisostomo at Venice, but it would be unwise to dramatise on
the share (if any) which the pupil had in completing the work of his
master. The credit of invention must indubitably rest with Giorgione,
but the damage which the picture has sustained through neglect and
repainting in years gone by, renders certainty of discrimination between
the two hands a matter of impossibility.
The colouring is rich and varied; the orange horizon, the distant blue
hill, and the pale, clear evening light, with violet-tinted clouds, give
a wonderful depth behind the dark tree-trunks. The effect of the
delicate leaves and feathery trees at the edge of the rock, relieved
against the pale sky, is superb. A spirit of solemnity broods over the
scene, fit feeling at so eventful a moment in the history of the past.
The composition, which looks so unstudied, is really arranged on the
usual triangular basis. The group of figures on the right is balanced on
the left by the great rock--the future Capitol--(which is thus brought
prominently into notice), and the landscape background again forms the
apex. The added depth and feeling for space shows how Giorgione had
learnt to compose in three dimensions, the technical advance over the
"Adrastus and Hypsipyle" indicating a period subsequent to that picture,
though probably anterior to the Castelfranco altar-piece.
* * * * *
We have now taken the three universally accepted Giorgiones; how are we
to proceed in our investigations? The simplest course will be to take
the pictures acknowledged by those modern writers who have devoted most
study to the question, and examine them in the light of the results to
which we have attained. Those writers are Crowe and Cavalcaselle, who
published their account of Giorgione in 1871, and Morelli, who wrote in
1877. Now it is notorious that the results at which these critics
arrived are often widely divergent, but a great deal too much has been
made of the differences and not enough of the points of agreement.
As a matter of fact, Morelli only questions three of the thirteen
Giorgiones accepted definitely by Crowe and Cavalcaselle. Leaving these
three aside for the moment, we may take the remaining ten (three of
which we have already examined), and after deducting three others in
English collections to which Morelli does not specifically refer, we are
left with four more pictures on which these rival authorities are
[Illustration: _Alinari photo. Uffizi Gallery, Florence_
THE JUDGMENT OF SOLOMON]
These are the two small works in the Uffizi, representing the "Judgment
of Solomon" and the "Trial of Moses," the "Knight of Malta," also in the
Uffizi, and the "Christ bearing the Cross," till lately in the Casa
Loschi at Vicenza, and now belonging to Mrs. Gardner of Boston, U.S.A.
The two small companion pictures in the Uffizi, The "Judgment of
Solomon" and the "Trial of Moses," or "Ordeal by Fire," as it is also
called, connect in style closely with the "Adrastus and Hypsipyle." They
are conceived in the same romantic strain, and carried out with scarcely
less brilliance and charm. The story, as in the previous pictures, is
not insisted upon; the biblical episode and the rabbinical legend are
treated in the same fantastic way as the classic myth. Giovanni Bellini
had first introduced this lyric conception in his treatment of the
mediaeval allegory, as we see it in his picture, also in the Uffizi,
hanging near the Giorgiones; all three works were originally together in
the Medici residence of Poggio Imperiale, and there can be little doubt
are intimately related in origin to one another. Bellini's latest
biographer, Mr. Roger Fry, places this Allegory about the years 1486-8,
a date which points to a very early origin for the other two. For
it is extremely likely that the young Giorgione was inspired by his
master's example, and that he may have produced his companion pieces as
early as 1493. With this deduction Morelli is in accord: "In character
they belong to the fifteenth century, and may have been painted by
Giorgione in his sixteenth or eighteenth year."
Here, then, is a clue to the young artist's earliest predilections. He
fastens eagerly upon that phase of Bellini's art to which his own poetic
temperament most readily responds. But he goes a step further than his
master. He takes his subjects not from mediaeval romances, but from the
Bible or rabbinical writings, and actually interprets them also in this
new and unorthodox way. So bold a departure from traditional usage
proves the independence and originality of the young painter. These two
little pictures thus become historically the first-fruits of the
neo-pagan spirit which was gradually supplanting the older
ecclesiastical thought, and Giorgione, once having cast conventionalism
aside, readily turns to classical mythology to find subjects for the
free play of fancy. The "Adrastus and Hypsipyle" thus follows naturally
upon "The Judgment of Solomon" and "Trial of Moses," and the pages of
Virgil, Ovid, Statius, and Valerius Flaccus--all treasure-houses of
golden legend--yield subjects suggestive of romance. The titles of some
of these _poesie_, as they were called, are preserved in the pages of
[Illustration: _Alinari photo. Uffizi Gallery, Florence_
THE TRIAL OF MOSES]
The tall and slender figures, the attitudes, and the general
_mise-en-scene_ vividly recall the earlier style of Carpaccio, who was
at this very time composing his delightful fairy tales of the "Legend of
S. Ursula." Common to both painters is a gaiety and love of beauty
and colour. There is also in both a freedom and ease, even a homeliness
of conception, which distinguishes their work from the pageant pictures
of Gentile Bellini, whose "Corpus Christi Procession" was produced two
or three years later, in 1496. But Giorgione's art is instinct with
a lyrical fancy all his own, the story is subordinated to the mood of
the moment, and he is much more concerned with the beauty of the scene
than with its dramatic import.
The repainted condition of "The Judgment of Solomon" has led some good
judges to pronounce it a copy. It certainly lacks the delicacy that
distinguishes its companion piece, but may we not--with Crowe and
Cavalcaselle and Morelli--register it rather as a much defaced original?
So far as we have at present examined Giorgione's pictures, the trend of
thought they display has been mostly in the direction of secular
subjects. The two early examples just described show that even where the
subject is quasi-religious, the revolutionary spirit made itself felt;
but it would be perfectly natural to find the young artist also
following his master Giambellini in the painting of strictly sacred
subjects. No better example could be found than the "Christ bearing the
Cross," the small work which has recently left Italy for America. We are
told by the Anonimo that there was in his day (1525) a picture by
Bellini of this subject, and it is remarkable that four separate
versions exist to-day which, without being copies of one another, are so
closely related that the existence of a common original is a legitimate
inference. That this was by Bellini is more than probable, for the
different versions are clearly by different painters of his school. By
far the finest is the example which Crowe and Cavalcaselle and Morelli
unhesitatingly ascribe to the young Giorgione; this version is, however,
considered by Signor Venturi inferior to the one now belonging to Count
Lanskeronski in Vienna. Others who, like the writer, have seen both
works, agree with the older view, and regard the latter version, like
the others at Berlin and Rovigo, as a contemporary repetition of
Bellini's lost original.
[Illustration: _Anderson photo. Collection of Mrs. Gardner, Boston,
CHRIST BEARING THE CROSS]
Characteristic of Giorgione is the abstract thought, the dreaminess of
look, the almost furtive glance. The minuteness of finish reminds us of
Antonello, and the turn of the head suggests several of the latter's
portraits. The delicacy with which the features are modelled, the
high forehead, and the lighting of the face are points to be noted, as
we shall find the same characteristics elsewhere.
[Illustration: _Alinari photo_] _[Uffizi Gallery, Florence_
THE KNIGHT OF MALTA]
The "Knight of Malta," in the Uffizi, is a more mature work, and reveals
Giorgione to us as a portrait painter of remarkable power. The
conception is dignified, the expression resolute, yet tempered by that
look of abstract thought which the painter reads into the faces of his
sitters. The hair parted in the middle, and brought down low at the
sides of the forehead, was peculiarly affected by the Venetian gentlemen
of the day, and this style seems to have particularly pleased Giorgione,
who introduces it in many other pictures besides portraits. The oval of
the face, which is strongly lighted, is also characteristic. This work
shows no direct connection with Bellini's portraiture, but far more with
that which we are accustomed to associate with the names of Titian and
Palma. It dates probably from the early part of the sixteenth century,
at a time when Giorgione was breaking with the older tradition which had
strictly limited portraiture to the representation of the head only, or
at most to the bust. The hand is here introduced, though Giorgione feels
still compelled to account for its presence by introducing a rosary of
large beads. In later years, as we shall see, the expressiveness of the
human hand _per se_ will be recognised; but Giorgione already feels its
significance in portraiture, and there is not one of his portraits which
does not show this.
The list of Giorgione's works now numbers seven; the next three to be
discussed are those that Crowe and Cavalcaselle added on their own
account, but about which Morelli expressed no opinion. Two are in
English private collections, the third in the National Gallery. This is
the small "Knight in Armour," said to be a study for the figure of S.
Liberale in the Castelfranco altar-piece. The main difference is that in
the latter the warrior wears his helmet, whilst in the National Gallery
example he is bareheaded. By some this little figure is believed to be a
copy, or repetition with variations, of Giorgione's original, but it
must honestly be confessed that absolutely no proof is forthcoming in
support of this view. The quality of this fragment is unquestionable,
and its very divergence from the Castelfranco figure is in its favour.
It would perhaps be unsafe to dogmatise in a case where the material is
so slight, but until its genuineness can be disproved by indisputable
evidence, the claim to authenticity put forward in the National Gallery
catalogue, following Crowe and Cavalcaselle's view, must be allowed.
[Illustration: _Hanfstaengl photo. Vienna Gallery_
THE ADORATION OF THE SHEPHERDS]
The two remaining pictures definitely placed by Crowe and Cavalcaselle
among the authentic productions of Giorgione are the "Adoration of the
Shepherds," belonging to Mr. Wentworth Beaumont, and the "Judgment of
Solomon," in the possession of Mr. Ralph Bankes at Kingston Lacy,
Dorsetshire. The former (of which an inferior replica with differences
of landscape exists in the Vienna Gallery) is one of the most poetically
conceived representations of this familiar subject which exists. The
actual group of figures forms but an episode in a landscape of the most
entrancing beauty, lighted by the rising sun, and wrapped in a soft
atmospheric haze. The landscapes in the two little Uffizi pictures are
immediately suggested, yet the quality of painting is here far superior,
and is much closer in its rendering of atmospheric effects to the
"Adrastus and Hypsipyle." The figures, on the other hand, are weak, very
unequal in size, and feebly expressed, except the Madonna, who has
charm. The lights and shadows are treated in a masterly way, and
contrasts of gloom and sunlight enhance the solemnity of the scene. The
general tone is rich and full of subdued colour.
Now if the name of Giorgione be denied this "Nativity," to which of the
followers of Bellini are we to assign it?--for the work is clearly of
Bellinesque stamp. The name of Catena has been proposed, but is now no
longer seriously supported. If for no other reason, the colour
scheme is sufficient to exclude this able artist, and, versatile as he
undoubtedly was, it may be questioned whether he ever could have
attained to the mellowness and glow which suffuse this picture. The
latest view enunciated is that "we are in the presence of a painter
as yet anonymous, whom in German fashion we might provisionally name
'The Master of the Beaumont "Adoration."'" Now this system of labelling
certain groups of paintings showing common characteristics is all very
well in cases where the art history of a particular school or period is
wrapt in obscurity, and where few, if any, names have come down to us,
but in the present instance it is singularly inappropriate. To begin
with, this anonymous painter is the author, so it is believed, of only
three works, this "Adoration," the "Epiphany," in the National Gallery,
No. 1160, and a small "Holy Family," belonging to Mr. Robert Benson in
London, for all three works are universally admitted to be by the same
hand. Next, this anonymous painter must have been a singularly refined
and poetical artist, a master of brilliant colour, and an accomplished
chiaroscurist. Truly a _deus ex machina_! Next you have to find a
vacancy for such a phenomenon in the already crowded lists of Bellini's
pupils and followers, as if there were not more names than enough
already to fully account for every Bellinesque production. No, this
is no question of compromise, of the dragging to light some hitherto
unknown genius whose identity has long been merged in that of bigger
men, but it is the recognition of the fact that the greater comprises
the less. Admitting, as we may, that these three pictures are inferior
in "depth, significance, cohesion, and poetry" (!) to the Castelfranco
"Madonna," there is nothing to show that they are not characteristic of
Giorgione, that they do not form part of a consistent whole. As a matter
of fact, this "Adoration of the Shepherds" connects very well with the
early _poesie_ already discussed. There is some opposition between the
sacred theme and Giorgione's natural dislike to tell a mere story; but
he has had to conform to traditional methods of representation, and the
feeling of restraint is felt in the awkward drawing of the figures, and
their uneven execution. That he felt dissatisfied with this portion of
the work, the drawing at Windsor plainly shows, for the figures appear
here in a different position, as if he had tried to recast his scheme.
Some may object that the drawing of the shepherd is atrocious, and that
the figures are of disproportionate sizes. Such failings, they say,
cannot be laid to a great master's charge. This is an appeal to the old
argument that it is not _good_ enough, whereas the true test lies in the
question, Is it _characteristic_? Of Giorgione it certainly is a
characteristic to treat each figure in a composition more or less by
itself; he isolates them, and this conception is often emphasised by an
outward disparity of size. The relative disproportion of the figures in
the Castelfranco altar-piece, and of those of Aeneas and Evander in the
Vienna picture can hardly be denied, yet no one has ever pleaded this as
a bar to their authenticity. Instances of this want of cohesion, both in
conception and execution, between the various figures in a scene could
be multiplied in Giorgione's work, no more striking instance being found
than in the great undertaking he left unfinished--the large "Judgment of
Solomon," next to be discussed. Moreover, eccentricities of drawing are
not uncommon in his work, as a reference to the "Adrastus and
Hypsipyle," and later works, like the "Fete Champetre" (of the Louvre),
I have no hesitation, therefore, in recognising this "Adoration of the
Shepherds" as a genuine work of Giorgione, and, moreover, it appears to
be the masterpiece of that early period when Bellini's influence was
still strong upon him.
The Vienna replica, I believe, was also executed by Giorgione himself.
Until recent times, when an all too rigorous criticism condemned it to
be merely a piece of the "Venezianische Schule um 1500" (which is
correct as far as it goes), it bore Giorgione's name, and is so
recorded in an inventory of the year 1659. It differs from the Beaumont
version chiefly in its colouring, which is silvery and of delicate
tones. It lacks the rich glow, and has little of that mysterious glamour
which is so subtly attractive in the former. The landscape is also
different. We must be on our guard, therefore, against the view that it
is merely a copy; differences of detail, especially in the landscape,
show that it is a parallel work, or a replica. Now I believe that these
two versions of the "Nativity" are the two pictures of "La Notte," by
Giorgione, to which we have allusion in a contemporary document. The
description, "Una Notte," obviously means what we term "A Nativity"
(Correggio's "Heilige Nacht" at Dresden is a familiar instance of the
same usage), and the difference in quality between the two versions is
significantly mentioned. It seems that Isabella d'Este, the celebrated
Marchioness of Mantua, had commissioned one of her agents in Venice to
procure for her gallery a picture by Giorgione. The agent writes to his
royal mistress and tells her (October 1510) that the artist is just
dead, and that no such picture as she describes--viz. "Una Nocte"[A]--is
to be found among his effects. However, he goes on, Giorgione did paint
two such pictures, but these were not for sale, as they belonged to two
private owners who would not part with them. One of these pictures was
of better design and more highly finished than the other, the latter
being, in his opinion, not perfect enough for the royal collection. He
regrets accordingly that he is unable to obtain the picture which the
If my conjecture be right, we have in the Beaumont and Vienna
"Nativities" the only two pictures of Giorgione to which allusion is
made in an absolutely contemporary document, and they thus become
authenticated material with which to start a study of the master.
The next picture, which Crowe and Cavalcaselle accept without question,
is the large "Judgment of Solomon," belonging to Mr. Bankes at Kingston
Lacy. The scene is a remarkable one, conceived in an absolutely unique
way; Solomon is here posed as a Roman Praetor giving judgment in the
Atrium, supported on each side by onlookers attired in fanciful costume
of the Venetian period, or suggestive of classical models. It is the
strangest possible medley of the Bellinesque and the antique, knit
together by harmonious colouring and a clever grouping of figures in a
triangular design. As an interpretation of a dramatic scene it is
singularly ineffective, partly because it is unfinished, some of the
elements of the tragedy being entirely wanting, partly because of an
obvious stageyness in the action of the figures taking part in the
scene. There is a want of dramatic unity in the whole; the figures are
introduced in an accidental way, and their relative proportion is not
accurately preserved; the executioner, for example, is head and
shoulders larger than anyone else, whilst the two figures standing on
the steps of Solomon's throne are in marked contrast. The one with the
shield, on the left, is as monumental as one of Bramante's creations,
the old gentleman with the beard, on the right, is mincing and has no
shoulders. Solomon himself appears as a young man of dark complexion, in
an attitude of self-contained determination; the way his hands rest on
the sides of the throne is very expressive. His drapery is cast in
curious folds of a zig-zag character, following the lines of the
composition, whilst the dresses of the other personages fall in broad
masses to the ground. The light and shade are cleverly handled, and the
spaciousness of the scene is enhanced by the rows of columns and the
apse of mosaics behind Solomon's head. The painter was clearly versed in
the laws of perspective, and indicates depth inwards by placing the
figures behind one another on a tesselated pavement or on the receding
steps of the throne, giving at the same time a sense of atmospheric
space between one figure and another. The colour scheme is delightful,
full-toned orange and red alternating with pale blues, olive green, and
delicate pink, the contrasts so subdued by a clever balance of light and
shade as to harmonise the whole in a delicate silvery key.
[Illustration: _Dixon photo. Collection of Mr. Ralph Bankes,
THE JUDGMENT OF SOLOMON (Unfinished)]
The unfinished figure of the executioner evidently caused the artist
much trouble, for _pentimenti_ are frequent, and other outlines can be
distinctly traced through the nude body. The effect of this clumsy
figure is far from satisfactory; the limbs are not articulated
distinctly; moreover, the balance of the whole composition is seriously
threatened by the tragedy being enacted at the side instead of in the
middle. The artist appears to have felt this difficulty so much that he
stopped short at this point; at any rate, the living child remains
unrepresented, nor is there any second child such as is required to
illustrate the story. It looks as though the scheme was not carefully
worked out before commencing, and that the artist found himself in
difficulties at the last, when he had to introduce the dramatic motive,
which apparently was not to his taste.
Now, all this fits in exactly with what we know of Giorgione's
temperament; lyrical by nature, he would shrink from handling a great
dramatic scene, and if such a task were imposed upon him he would
naturally treat three-fourths of the subject in his own fantastic way,
and do his best to illustrate the action required in the remaining part.
The result would be (what might be expected) forced or stagey, and the
action rhetorical, and that is exactly what has happened in this
"Judgment of Solomon."
It is a natural inference that, supposing Giorgione to be the painter,
he would never have selected such a subject of his own free will to be
treated, as this is, on so large a scale. There may be, therefore,
something in the suggestion which Crowe and Cavalcaselle make that this
may be the large canvas ordered of Giorgione for the audience chamber
of the Council, "for which purpose," they add, "the advances made to him
in the summer of 1507 and in January 1508 show that the work he had
undertaken was of the highest consequence."
Be this as it may, the picture was in Venice, in the Casa Grimani di
Santo Ermagora, in Ridolfi's day (1646), and that writer specially
mentions the unfinished executioner. It passed later into the
Marescalchi Gallery at Bologna, where it was seen by Lord Byron (1820),
and purchased at his suggestion by his friend Mr. Bankes, in whose
family it still remains.
It will be gathered from what I have written that Giorgione and no other
is, in my opinion, the author of this remarkable work. Certain of the
figures are reminiscent of those by him elsewhere--e.g. the old man with
the beard is like the Evander in the Vienna picture, the young man next
the executioner resembles the Adrastus in the Giovanelli figures, and
the young man stooping forward next to Solomon recurs in the "Three
Ages," in the Pitti, which Morelli considered to be by Giorgione. The
most obvious resemblances, however, are to be found in the Glasgow
"Adulteress before Christ," a work which several modern critics assign
to Cariani, although Dr. Bode, Sir Walter Armstrong, and others,
maintain it to be a real Giorgione. Consistently enough, those who
believe in Cariani's authorship in the one case, assert it in the
other, and as consistently I hold that both are by Giorgione. It is
conceivable that Cariani may have copied Giorgione's types and
attitudes, but it is inconceivable to me that he can have so entirely
assimilated Giorgione's temperament to which this "Judgment of Solomon"
so eloquently witnesses. Moreover, let no one say that Cariani executed
what Giorgione designed, for, in spite of its imperfect condition, the
technique reveals a painter groping his way as he works, altering
contours, and making corrections with his brush; in fact, it has all the
spontaneity which characterises an original creation.
The date of its execution may well have been 1507-8, perhaps even
earlier; at any rate, we must not argue from its unfinished state that
the painter's death prevented completion, for the style is not that of
Giorgione's last works. Rather must we conclude that, like the "Aeneas
and Evander," and several other pictures yet to be mentioned, Giorgione
stopped short at his work, unwilling to labour at an uncongenial task
(as, perhaps, in the present case), or from some feeling of
dissatisfaction at the result, nay, even despair of ever realising his
To this important trait in Giorgione's character further reference will
be made when all the available material has been examined; suffice it
for the moment that this "Judgment of Solomon" is to me a most _typical_
example of the great artist's work, a revelation alike of his weaknesses
as of his powers.
Following our method of investigation we will next consider the
pictures which Morelli accredits to Giorgione over and above the seven
already discussed, wherein he concurs with Crowe and Cavalcaselle. These
are twelve in number, and include some of the master's finest works,
some of them unknown to the older authorities, or, at any rate,
unrecorded by them. Here, therefore, the opinions of Crowe and
Cavalcaselle are not of so much weight, so it will be necessary to see
how far Morelli's views have been confirmed by later writers during the
last twenty years.
Three portraits figure in Morelli's list--one at Berlin, one at
Buda-Pesth, and one in the Borghese Gallery at Rome.
[Illustration: _Hanfstaengl photo. Berlin Gallery_
PORTRAIT OF A YOUNG MAN]
First, as to the Berlin "Portrait of a Young Man," which, when Morelli
wrote, belonged to Dr. Richter, and was afterwards acquired for the
Berlin Gallery. "In it we have one of those rare portraits such as only
Giorgione, and occasionally Titian, were capable of producing, highly
suggestive, and exercising over the spectator an irresistible
fascination." Such are the great critic's enthusiastic words, and no
one surely to-day would be found to gainsay them. We may note the
characteristic treatment of the hair, the thoughtful look in the eyes,
and the strong light on the face in contrast to the dark frame of hair,
points which this portrait shares in common with the "Knight of Malta"
in the Uffizi. Particularly to be noticed, however, is the parapet on
which the fingers of one hand are visible, and the mysterious letters
VV. Allusion has already been made to the growing practice in
Venetian art of introducing the hand as a significant feature in
portrait painting, and here we get the earliest indications of this
tendency in Giorgione; for this portrait certainly ante-dates the
"Knight of Malta." It would seem to have been painted quite early in the
last decade of the fifteenth century, when Bellini's art would still be
the predominant influence over the young artist.
It is but a step onward to the next portrait, that of a young man, in
the Gallery at Buda-Pesth, but the supreme distinction which marks this
wonderful head stamps it as a masterpiece of portraiture. Venetian art
has nothing finer to show, whether for its interpretative qualities, or
for the subtlety of its execution. Truly Giorgione has here foreshadowed
Velasquez, whose silveriness of tone is curiously anticipated; yet the
true Giorgionesque quality of magic is felt in a way that the impersonal
Spaniard never realised. Only those who have seen the original can know
of the wonderful atmospheric background, with sky, clouds, and hill-tops
just visible. The reproduction, alas! gives no hint of all this. Nor can
one appreciate the superb painting of the black quilted dress, with its
gold braid, or of the shining black hair, confined in a brown net. The
artist must have been in keen sympathy with this melancholy figure, for
the expression is so intense that, as Morelli says, "he seems about to
confide to us the secret of his life."
Several points claim our attention. First, the parapet has an almost
illegible inscription, ANTONIVS. BROKARDVS. M[=ARI]I.F, presumably the
young man's name. Further, we may notice the recurrence of the letter V
on a black device, and there is a second curious black tablet, which,
however, has nothing on it. Between the two is a circle with a device of
three heads in one surrounded by a garland of flowers. No satisfactory
explanation of these symbols can be offered, but if the second black
tablet had originally another V, we might conclude that these letters
were in some mysterious way connected with Giorgione, as they appear
also on the Berlin portrait. I shall be able to show that another
instance of this double V exists on yet another portrait by
Finally, the expressiveness of the human hand is here fully realised.
This feature alone points to a later date than the "Knight of Malta,"
and considerably after the still earlier Berlin portrait. The consummate
mastery of technique, moreover, indicates that Giorgione has here
reached full maturity, so that it would be safe to place this portrait
about the year 1508.
[Illustration: _Buda-Pesth Gallery_
PORTRAIT OF A MAN]
Signor Venturi ("La Galleria Crespi") ascribes this portrait to Licinio.
This is one of those inexplicable perversions of judgment to which even
the best critics are at times liable. In _L'Arte_, 1900, p. 24, the same
writer mentions that a certain Antonio Broccardo, son of Marino, made
his will in 1527, and that the same name occurs among those who
frequented the University of Bologna in 1525. There is nothing to
prevent Giorgione having painted this man's portrait when younger.
[Illustration: _Anderson photo. Borghese Gallery, Rome_
PORTRAIT OF A LADY]
The third portrait in Morelli's list has not had the same friendly
reception at the hands of later critics as the preceding two have had.
This is the "Portrait of a Lady" in the Borghese Gallery at Rome, whose
discovery by Morelli is so graphically described in a well-known
passage. And in truth it must be confessed that the authorship of
this portrait is not at first sight quite so evident as in the other
cases; nevertheless I am firmly convinced that Morelli saw further than
his critics, and that his intuitive judgment was in this instance
perfectly correct. The simplicity of conception, the intensity of
expression, the pose of the figure alike proclaim the master, whose
characteristic touch is to be seen in the stone ledge, the fancy
head-dress, the arrangement of hair, and the modelling of the features.
The presence of the hands is characteristically explained by the
handkerchief stretched tight between them, the action being expressive
of suppressed excitement: "She stands at a window ... gazing out with a
dreamy, yearning expression, as if seeking to descry one whom she
Licinio, whose name has been proposed as the painter, did indeed follow
out this particular vein of Giorgione's portraiture, so that "Style of
Licinio" is not an altogether inapt attribution; but there is just that
difference of quality between the one man's work and the other, which
distinguishes any great man from his followers, whether in literature or
in art. How near (and yet how far!) Licinio came to his great prototype
is best seen in Lady Ashburton's "Portrait of a Young Man," but that
he could have produced the Borghese "Lady" presupposes qualities he
never possessed. "To Giorgione alone was it given to produce portraits
of such astonishing simplicity, yet so deeply significant, and capable,
by their mystic charm, of appealing to our imagination in the highest
The actual condition of this portrait is highly unsatisfactory, and is
adduced by some as a reason for condemning it. Yet the spirit of the
master seems still to breathe through the ruin, and to justify Morelli's
ascription, if not the enthusiastic language in which he writes.
[Illustration: _Anderson photo. Seminario, Venice_
APOLLO AND DAPHNE]
With the fourth addition on Morelli's list we pass into a totally
different sphere of art--the decoration of _cassoni_, and other pieces
of furniture. We have seen Giorgione at work on legendary stories or
classic myths, creating out of these materials pages of beauty and
romance in the form of easel paintings, and now we have the same thing
as applied art--that is, art used for purely decorative purposes. The
"Apollo and Daphne" in the Seminario at Venice was probably a panel of a
_cassone_; but although intended for so humble a place, it is instinct
with rare poetic feeling and beauty. Unfortunately it is in such a bad
state that little remains of the original work, and Giorgione's touch
is scarcely to be recognised in the damaged parts. Nevertheless, his
spirit breathes amidst the ruin, and modern critics have recognised the
justice of Morelli's view, rather than that of Crowe and Cavalcaselle,
who suggested Schiavone as the "author." And, indeed, a comparison
with the "Adrastus and Hypsipyle" is enough to show a common origin,
although, as we might expect, the same consummate skill is scarcely to
be found in the _cassone_ panel as in the easel picture. There is a rare
daintiness, however, in these graceful figures, so essentially
Giorgionesque in their fanciful presentation, the young Apollo, a
lovely, fair-haired boy, pursuing a maiden with flowing tresses, whose
identity with Daphne is only to be recognised by the laurel springing
from her fingers. The story is but an episode in a sylvan scene, where
other figures, in quaint costumes, seem to be leading an idyllic
existence, untroubled by the cares of life, and utterly unconcerned at
the strange event passing before their eyes.
From the "Apollo and Daphne" it is an easy transition to the "Venus,"
that great discovery which we owe to Morelli, and now universally
recognised by modern critics. The one point on which Morelli did not,
perhaps, lay sufficient stress, is the co-operation in this work of
Titian with Giorgione, for here we have an additional proof that the
latter left some of his work unfinished. It is a fair inference that
Titian completed the Cupid (now removed), and that he had a hand in
finishing the landscape; the Anonimo, indeed, states as much, and
Ridolfi confirms it, and this view is officially adopted in the latest
edition of the Dresden Catalogue. The style points to Giorgione's
maturity, though scarcely to the last years of his life; for, in spite
of the freedom and breadth of treatment in the landscape, there is a
restraint in the figure, and a delicacy of form which points to a period
preceding, rather than contemporary with, the Louvre "Concert" and
kindred works, where the forms become fuller and rounder, and the
feeling more exuberant.
It would be mere repetition, after all that has been written on the
Dresden "Venus," to enlarge on the qualities of refinement and grace
which characterise the fair form of the sleeping goddess. One need but
compare it with Titian's representations of the same subject, and still
more with Palma's versions at Dresden and Cambridge, or with Cariani's
"Venus" at Hampton Court, to see the classic purity of form, the ideal
loveliness of Giorgione's goddess. It is no mere accident that she
alone is sleeping, whilst they solicit attention. Giorgione's conception
is characteristic in that he endeavours to avoid any touch of realism
abhorrent to his nature, which was far more sensitive than that of
Palma, Cariani, or even Titian.
[Illustration: _Hanfstaengl photo_. Dresden Gallery
The extraordinary beauty and subtlety of the master's "line" is
admirably shown. He has deliberately forgone anatomical precision in
order to accentuate artistic effect. The splendour of curve, the beauty
of unbroken contour, the rhythm and balance of composition is attained
at a cost of academic correctness; but the long-drawn horizontal lines
heighten the sense of repose, and the eye is soothed by the sinuous
undulations of landscape and figure. The artistic effect is further
enhanced by the relief of exquisite flesh tones against the rich crimson
drapery, and although the atmospheric glow has been sadly destroyed by
abrasion and repainting, we may still feel something of the magic charm
which Giorgione knew so well how to impart.
This "Venus" is the prototype of all other Venetian versions; it is in
painting what the "Aphrodite" of Praxiteles was in sculpture, a perfect
creation of a master mind.
Scarcely less wonderful than the "Venus," and even surpassing it in
solemn grandeur of conception, is the "Judith" at St. Petersburg.
Morelli himself had never seen the original, and includes it in his list
with the reservation that it might be an old copy after Giorgione, and
not the original. It would be presumptuous for anyone not familiar with
the picture to decide the point, but I have no hesitation in following
the judgment of two competent modern critics, both of whom have recently
visited St. Petersburg, and both of whom have decided unhesitatingly in
favour of its being an original by Giorgione. Dr. Harck has written
enthusiastically of its beauty. "Once seen," he says, "it can never be
forgotten; the same mystic charm, so characteristic of the other great
works of Giorgione, pervades it; ... it bears on the face of it the
stamp of a great master." Even more decisive is the verdict of Mr.
Claude Phillips. "All doubts," he says, "vanish like sun-drawn mist
in the presence of the work itself; the first glance carries with it
conviction, swift and permanent. In no extant Giorgione is the golden
glow so well preserved, in none does the mysterious glamour from which
the world has never shaken itself free, assert itself in more
irresistible fashion.... The colouring is not so much Giorgionesque as
Giorgione's own--a widely different thing.... Wonderful touches which
the imitative Giorgionesque painter would not have thought of are the
girdle, a mauve-purple now, with a sharply emphasised golden fringe, and
the sapphire-blue jewel in the brooch. Triumphs of execution, too, but
not in the broad style of Venetian art in its fullest expansion, are the
gleaming sword held in so dainty and feminine a fashion, and the flowers
which enamel the ground at the feet of the Jewish heroine." This
"Judith," after passing for many years under the names of Raphael and
Moretto, is now officially recognised as Giorgione's work, an
identification first made by the late Herr Penther, the keeper of the
Vienna Academy, whom Morelli quotes.
The conception is wholly Giorgionesque, the mood one of calm
contemplation, as this lovely figure stands lost in reverie, with eyes
cast down, gazing on the head on which her foot is lightly laid. The
head and sword proclaim her story, they are symbols of her mission, else
she had been taken for an embodiment of feminine modesty and gentle
[Illustration: _Braun photo. Hermitage Gallery, St. Petersburg_
Characteristic of the master is the introduction of the great
tree-trunk, conveying a sense of grandeur and solemn mystery to the
scene; characteristic, too, is the distant landscape, the splendid glow
of which evokes special praise from the writers just mentioned. Again we
find the parapet, or ledge, with its flat surface on which the play of
light can be caught, and again the same curious folds, broken and
crumpled, such as are seen on Solomon's robe in the Kingston Lacy
picture, and somewhat less emphatically in the Castelfranco "Madonna."
Consistent, moreover, with that weakness we have already noticed
elsewhere, is the design of the leg and foot, the drawing of which is
far from impeccable. That the execution in this respect is not equal to
the supreme conception of the whole, is no valid reason for the belief
that this "Judith" is only a copy of a lost original, a belief that
could apparently only be held by those who have never stood before the
picture itself. But even in the reproduction this "Judith" stands
confessed as the most impressive of all Giorgione's single figures, and
it may well rank as the masterpiece of the earlier period immediately
preceding the Castelfranco picture of about 1504, to which in style it
The next picture on Morelli's list is the "Fete Champetre" of the
Louvre, or, as it is often called, the "Concert." This lovely "Pastoral
Symphony" (which appears to me a more suitable English title) is by no
means universally regarded as a creation of Giorgione's hand and brain,
and several modern critics have been at pains to show that Campagnola,
or some other Venetian imitator of the great master, really produced
it. In this endeavour Crowe and Cavalcaselle led the way by
suggesting the author was probably an imitator of Sebastiano del Piombo.
But all this must surely seem to be heresy when we stand before the
picture itself, thrilled by the gorgeousness of its colour, by the
richness of the paradise" in which the air is balmy, and the landscape
ever green; where life is a pastime, and music the only labour; where
groves are interspersed with meadows and fountains; where nymphs sit
playfully on the grass, or drink at cool springs." Was ever such a
gorgeous idyll? In the whole range of painted poetry can the like be
[Illustration: _Braun photo. Louvre, Paris_
A PASTORAL SYMPHONY]
Yet let us be more precise in our analysis. Granted that the scene is
one eminently adapted to Giorgione's poetic temperament, is the
execution analogous to that which we have found in the preceding
examples? No one will deny, I suppose, that there is a difference
between the intensely refined forms of the Venus, or the earlier
Hypsipyle, or the Daphne, and the coarser nudes in the Louvre picture.
No one will deny a certain carelessness marks the delineation of form,
no one will gainsay a frankly sensuous charm pervades the scene, a
feeling which seems at first sight inconsistent with that reticence and
modesty so conspicuous elsewhere. Yet I think all this is perfectly
explicable on the basis of natural evolution. Exuberance of feeling is
the logical outcome of a lifetime spent in an atmosphere of lyrical
thought, and certainly Giorgione was not the sort of man to control
those natural impulses, which grew stronger with advancing years. Both
traditions of his death point in this direction; and, unless I am
mistaken, the quality of his art, as well as its character, reflects
this tendency. In his later years, 1508-10, he attains indeed a
magnificence and splendour which dazzles the eye, but it is at the cost
of that feeling of restraint which gives the earlier work such exquisite
charm. In such a work as the Louvre "Concert," Giorgio has become
Giorgione; he is riper in experience and richer in feeling, and his art
assumes a corresponding exuberance of style, his forms become larger,
his execution grows freer. Nay, more, that strain of carelessness is not
wanting which so commonly accompanies such evolutions of character. And
so this "Pastoral Symphony" becomes a characteristic production--that
is, one which a man of Giorgione's temperament would naturally produce
in the course of his developing. Peculiar, however, to an artist of
genius is the subtlety of composition, which is held together by
invisible threads, for nowhere else, perhaps, has Giorgione shown a
greater mastery of line. The diagonal line running from behind the nude
figure on the left down to the foot so cunningly extended of the seated
youth, is beautifully balanced by the line which is formed by the seated
figure of the woman. The artist has deliberately emphasised this line by
the curious posture of the legs. The figure, indeed, does not sit at
all, but the balance of the composition is the better assured. What
exquisite curves the standing woman presents! how cleverly the drapery
continues the beautiful line, which Giorgione takes care not to break by
placing the left leg and foot out of sight. How marvellously expressive,
nay, how _inevitable_ is the hand of the youth who is playing. Surely
neither Campagnola nor any other second-rate artist was capable of such
[Illustration: _Alinari photo. Pitti Gallery, Florence_
THE THREE AGES OF MAN]
The eighth picture cited by Morelli as, in his opinion, a genuine
Giorgione, is the so-called "Three Ages of Man," in the Pitti at
Florence--a damaged picture, but parts of which, as he says, "are still
so splendid and so thoroughly Giorgionesque that I venture to ascribe it
without hesitation to Giorgione." The three figures are grouped
naturally, and are probably portraits from life. The youth in the centre
we have already met in the Kingston Lacy "Judgment of Solomon"; the man
on the right recurs in the "Family Concert" at Hampton Court, and is
strangely like the S. Maurice in the signed altar-piece at Berlin by
Luzzi da Feltre. But like though they be in type, in quality the
heads in the "Three Ages" are immensely superior to those in the Berlin
picture. The same models may well have served Giorgione and his friend
and pupil Luzzi, or, as he is generally called, Morto da Feltre. A
recent study of the few authenticated works by this feeble artist still
at Feltre, his native place, forces me to dissent from the opinion that
the Pitti "Three Ages" is the work of his hand. Still less do I
hold with the view that Lotto is the author. Here, again, I believe
Morelli saw further than other critics, and that his attribution is the
right one. The simplicity, the apparently unstudied grouping, the
refinement of type, the powerful expression, are worthy of the master;
the play of light on the faces, especially on that of the youth, is most
characteristic, and the peculiar chord of colour reveals a sense of
originality such as no imitator would command. Unless I am mistaken, the
man on the right is none other than the Aeneas in the Vienna picture,
and his hand with the pointing forefinger is such as we see two or three
times over in the "Judgment of Solomon" and elsewhere. Certainly here it
is awkwardly introduced, obviously to bring the figure into direct
relation with the others; but Giorgione is by no means always supreme
master of natural expression, as the hands in the "Adrastus and
Hypsipyle" and Vienna pictures clearly show.
Here, for the first time, we meet Giorgione in those studies of human
nature which are commonly called "conversation pieces," or
"concerts"--natural groups of generally three people knit together by
some common bond, which is usually music in one form or another. It is
not the idyll of the "Pastoral Symphony," but akin to it as an
expression of some exquisite moment of thought or feeling, an ideal
instant "in which, arrested thus, we seem to be spectators of all the
fulness of existence, and which is like some consummate extract or
quintessence of life." No one before Giorgione's time had painted
such ideas, such poems without articulated story; and to have reached
this stage of development presupposes a familiarity with set subjects
such as a classic myth or mediaeval romance would offer for treatment.
And so this "Three Ages" dates from his later years.
[Illustration: _Anderson photo. Pitti Gallery, Florence_
NYMPH AND SATYR]
Another picture in the Pitti was also recognised by Morelli as
Giorgione's work--"The Nymph pursued by a Satyr." Modern criticism seems
undecided on the justice of this view, some writers inclining to the
belief that this is a Giorgionesque production of Dosso Dossi, others
preserving a discreet silence, or making frank avowal of their inability
to decide. Nevertheless, I venture to agree with Morelli that "we have
all the characteristics of an early (?) work of Giorgione--the type of
the nymph with the low forehead, the charming arrangement of the hair
upon the temples, the eyes placed near together, and the hand with
tapering fingers." The oval of the face recalls the "Knight of
Malta," the high cranium and treatment of the hair such as we find in
the Dresden "Venus" and elsewhere. The delicacy of modelling, the beauty
of the features are far beyond Dosso's powers, who, brilliant artist as
he sometimes was, was of much coarser fibre than the painter of these
figures. The difference of calibre between the two is well illustrated
by comparing Giorgione's "Satyr" with Dosso's frankly vulgar "Buffone"
in the Modena Gallery, or with those uncouth productions, also in the
Pitti, the "S. John Baptist" and the "Bambocciate." Were the
repaints removed, I think all doubts as to the authorship would be set
at rest, and the "Nymph and Satyr" would take its place among the
slighter and more summary productions of Giorgione's brush.
[Illustration: _Laurent_ photo. Prado Gallery, Madrid
MADONNA AND SAINTS]
Only one sacred subject figures in the additions made by Morelli to the
list of genuine Giorgiones. This is the small altar-piece at Madrid,
with Madonna seated between S. Francis and S. Roch. Traditionally
accredited to Pordenone, it has now received official recognition as a
masterpiece of Giorgione, an attribution that, so far as I am aware, no
one has seriously contested. And, indeed, it is hard to conceive
wherein any objection could possibly lie, for it is a typical creation
of the master, _usque ad unguem_. Not only in types, colour, light and
shade, and particularly in feeling, is the picture characteristic, but
it again shows the artist leaving work unfinished, and again reveals the
fact that the work grew in conception as it was actually being painted.
I mean that the whole figure of S. Roch has been painted in over the
rest, and that the S. Francis has also probably been introduced
afterwards. I have little doubt that originally Giorgione intended to
paint a simple Madonna and Child, and afterwards extended the scheme.
The composition of three figures, practically in a row, is moreover most
unusual, and contrary to that triangular scheme particularly favoured by
the master, whereas the lovely sweep of Madonna's dress by itself
creates a perfect design on a triangular basis. A great artist is here
revealed, one whose feeling for line is so intense that he wilfully
casts the drapery in unnatural folds in order to secure an artistic
triumph. The working out of the dress within this line has yet to be
done, the folds being merely suggested, and this task has been left
whilst forwarding other parts. The freedom of touch and thinness of
paint indicates how rapidly the artist worked. There is little
deliberation apparent: indeed, the effect is that of hasty
improvisation. Velasquez could not have painted the stone on which S.
Roch rests his foot with greater precision or more consummate mastery;
the delicacy of flesh tints is amazing. The bit of landscape behind S.
Roch (invisible in the reproduction), with its stately tree trunk rising
solitary beside the hanging curtain, strikes a note of romance, fit
accompaniment to the bizarre figure of the saint in his orange jerkin
and blue leggings. How mysterious, too, is S. Francis!--rapt in his own
thoughts, yet strangely human.
[Illustration: _Buda-Pesth Gallery_
COPY OF A PORTION OF GIORGIONE'S "BIRTH OF PARIS"]
We have now examined ten of the twelve pictures added, on Morelli's
initiative, to the list of genuine works, and we have found very little,
if any, serious opposition on the part of later writers to his views.
Not so, however, with regard to the remaining two pictures. The first of
these is a fragment in the gallery of Buda-Pesth, representing two
figures in a landscape. All modern critics are agreed that Morelli has
here mistaken an old copy after Giorgione for an original, a mistake we
may readily pardon in consideration of the successful identification he
has made of these figures with the Shepherds, in the composition seen
and described by the Anonimo in 1525 as the "Birth of Paris," by
Giorgione. This identification is fully confirmed by the engraving made
by Th. von Kessel for the _Theatrum Pictorium_, which shows how these
two figures are placed in the composition. Where, as in the present
case, the original is missing, even a partial copy is of great value,
for in it we can see the mind, if not the hand, of the great master. The
Anonimo tells us this "Birth of Paris" was one of Giorgione's early
works, a statement worthy of credence from the still Bellinesque stamp
and general likeness of one of the Shepherds to the "Adrastus" in the
Giovanelli picture. In pose, type, arrangement of hair, and in landscape
this fragment is thoroughly Giorgionesque, and we have, moreover, those
most characteristic traits, the pointing forefinger, and the unbroken
curve of outline. The execution is, however, raw and crude, and entirely
wanting in the magic quality of the master's own touch.
[Illustration: _Dixon photo. Hampton Court Palace Gallery_
THE SHEPHERD BOY.]
Finally, on Morelli's list figures the "Shepherd" at Hampton Court, for
the genuineness of which the critic would not absolutely vouch, as he
had only seen it in a bad light. Perhaps no picture has been so strongly
championed by an enthusiastic writer as has been this "Shepherd" by Mr.
Berenson, who strenuously advocates its title to genuineness.
Nevertheless, several modern authorities remain unconvinced in presence
of the work itself. The conception is unquestionably Giorgione's own,
as we may see from a picture now in the Vienna Gallery, where this head
is repeated in a representation of the young David holding the head of
Goliath. The Vienna picture is, however, but a copy of a lost original
by Giorgione, the existence of which is independently attested by
Vasari. Now, the question naturally arises, What relation does the
Hampton Court "Shepherd" bear to this "David," Giorgione's lost
original? It is possible, of course, that the master repeated himself,
merely transforming the David into a Shepherd, or _vice versa_, and it
is equally possible that some other and later artist adapted Giorgione's
"David" to his own end, utilising the conception that is, and carrying
it out in his own way. Arguing purely _a priori_, the latter possibility
is the more likely, inasmuch as we know Giorgione hardly ever repeats a
figure or a composition, whereas Titian, Cariani, and other later
Venetian artists freely adopted Giorgione's ideas, his types, and his
compositions for their own purposes. Internal evidence appears to me,
moreover, to confirm this view, for the general style of painting seems
to indicate a later period than 1510, the year of Giorgione's death. The
flimsy folds, in particular, are not readily recognisable as the
master's own. A comparison with a portrait in the Gallery of Padua
reveals, particularly in this respect, striking resemblances. This fine
portrait was identified by both Crowe and Cavalcaselle and by Morelli as
the work of Torbido, and I venture to place the reproduction of it
beside that of the "Shepherd" for comparison. It is not easy to
pronounce on the technical qualities of either work, for both have
suffered from re-touching and discolouring varnish, and the hand of the
"Shepherd" is certainly damaged. Yet, whilst admitting that the evidence
is inconclusive, I cannot refrain from suggesting Torbido's name as
possible author of the "Shepherd," the more so as we know he carefully
studied and formed his style upon Giorgione's work. It is at least
conceivable that he took Giorgione's "David with the Head of Goliath,"
and by a simple, and in this case peculiarly appropriate,
transformation, changed him into a shepherd boy holding a flute.
We have now taken all the pictures which either Crowe and Cavalcaselle
or Morelli, or both, assign to Giorgione himself. There still remain,
however, three or four works to be mentioned where these authorities
hold opposite views which require some examination.
First and foremost comes the "Concert" in the Pitti Gallery, a work
which was regarded by Crowe and Cavalcaselle not only as a genuine
example of Giorgione's art, but as "not having its equal in any period
of Giorgione's practice. It gives," they go on, "a just measure of his
skill, and explains his celebrity." Morelli, on the contrary, holds:
"It has unfortunately been so much damaged by a restorer that little
enough remains of the original, yet from the form of the hands and of
the ear, and from the gestures of the figures, we are led to infer that
it is not a work of Giorgione, but belongs to a somewhat later period.
If the repaint covering the surface were removed we should, I think,
find that it is an early work by Titian." Where Morelli hesitated
his followers have decided, and accordingly, in Mr. Berenson's list, in
Mr. Claude Phillips' "Life of Titian," and in the latest biography on
that master, published by Dr. Gronau, we find the "Concert" put down to
Titian. On the other hand, Dr. Bode, Signor Conti in his monograph on
Giorgione, M. Muentz, and the authorities in Florence support the
traditional view that the "Concert" is a masterpiece of Giorgione.
[Illustration: _Alinari photo. Pitti Gallery, Florence_
Which view is the right one? To many this may appear an academic
discussion of little value, for, _ipso facto_, the quality of the work
is admitted by all. The picture is a fine thing, in spite of its
imperfect condition, and what matter whether Titian or Giorgione be the
author? But to this sort of argument it may be said that until we do
know what is Giorgione's work and what is not, it is impossible to gauge
accurately the nature and scope of his art, or to reach through that
channel the character of the artist behind his work. In the case of
Giorgione and Titian, the task of drawing the dividing line is one of
unusual difficulty, and a long and careful study of the question has
convinced me that this will have to be done in a way that modern
criticism has not yet attempted. From the very earliest days the two
have been so inextricably confused that it will require a very
exhaustive re-examination of all the evidence in the light of modern
discoveries, documentary and pictorial, coupled, I am afraid, with the
recognition of the fact that much modern criticism on this point has
been curiously at fault. This is neither the time nor the place to
discuss the question of Titian's early work, but I feel sure that this
chapter of art history has yet to be correctly written. One of the
determining factors in the discussion will be the authorship of the
Pitti "Concert," for our estimate of Giorgione or Titian must be
coloured appreciably by the recognition of such an epoch-making picture
as the work of one or the other.
It is, therefore, peculiarly unfortunate that the two side figures in
this wonderful group are so rubbed and repainted as almost to defy
certainty of judgment. In conception and spirit they are typically
Giorgionesque, and Morelli, I imagine, would scarcely have made the bold
suggestion of Titian's authorship but for the central figure of the
young monk playing the harpsichord. This head stands out in grand
relief, being in a far purer state of preservation than the rest, and we
are able to appreciate to some extent the extraordinarily subtle
modelling of the features, the clear-cut contours, the intensity of
expression. The fine portrait in the Louvre, known as "L'homme au gant,"
an undoubted early work of Titian, is singularly close in character and
style, as was first pointed out by Mr. Claude Phillips, and it was
this general reminiscence, more than points of detail in an admittedly
imperfect work that seemingly induced Morelli to suggest Titian's name
as possible author of the "Concert." Nevertheless, I cannot allow this
plausible comparison to outweigh other and more vital considerations.
The subtlety of the composition, the bold sweep of diagonal lines, the
way the figure of the young monk is "built up" on a triangular design,
the contrasts of black and white, are essentially Giorgione's own. So,
too, is the spirit of the scene, so telling in its movement, gesture,
and expression. Surely it is needless to translate all that is most
characteristic of Giorgione in his most personal expression into a
"Giorgionesque" mood of Titian. No, let us admit that Titian owed much
to his friend and master (more perhaps than we yet know), but let us not
needlessly deprive Giorgione of what is, in my opinion at least, the
great creation of his maturer years, the Pitti "Concert." I am inclined
to place it about 1506-7, and to regard it as the earliest and finest
expression in Venetian art of that kind of genre painting of which we
have already studied another, though later example, "The Three Ages" (in
the Pitti). The second work where Crowe and Cavalcaselle hold a
different view from Morelli is a "Portrait of a Man" in the Gallery of
Rovigo (No. 11). The former writers declare that it, "perhaps more than
any other, approximates to the true style of Giorgione." With such
praise sounding in one's ears it is somewhat of a shock to discover that
this "grave and powerfully wrought creation" is a miniature 7 by 6
inches in size. Such an insignificant fragment requires no serious
consideration; at most it would seem only to be a reduced copy after
some lost original. Morelli alludes to it as a copy after Palma, but one
may well doubt whether he is not referring to another portrait in the
same gallery (No. 123). Be that as it may, this "Giorgione" miniature
is sadly out of place among genuine pieces of the master.
[Illustration: _Hanfstaengl photo. National Gallery, London_
THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI]
One other picture, of special interest to English people, is in dispute.
By Crowe and Cavalcaselle "The Adoration of the Magi," now in the
National Gallery (No. 1160), is attributed to the master himself; by
Morelli it was assigned to Catena. This brilliant little panel is
admittedly by the same hand that painted the Beaumont "Adoration of the
Shepherds," and yet another picture presently to be mentioned. We have
already agreed to the propriety of attribution in the former case; it
follows, therefore, that here also Giorgione's name is the correct one,
and his name, we are glad to see, has recently been placed on the label
by the Director of the Gallery.
This beautiful little panel, which came from the Leigh Court Collection,
under Bellini's name, has much of the depth, richness, and glow which
characterises the Beaumont picture, although the latter is naturally
more attractive, owing to the wonderful landscape and the more elaborate
chiaroscuro. The figures are Bellinesque, yet with that added touch of
delicacy and refinement which Giorgione always knows how to impart. The
richness of colouring, the depth of tone, the glamour of the whole is
far superior to anything that we can point to with certainty as Catena's
work; and no finer example of his "Giorgionesque" phase is to be found
than the sumptuous "Warrior adoring the Infant Christ," which hangs
close by, whilst his delicate little "S. Jerome in his Study," also in
the same room, challenges comparison. Catena's work seems cold and
studied beside the warmth and spontaneity of Giorgione's little panel,
which is, indeed, as Crowe and Cavalcaselle assert, "of the most
picturesque beauty in distribution, colour, and costume." It must
date from before 1500, probably just before the Beaumont "Nativity," and
proves how, even at that early time, Giorgione's art was rapidly
maturing into full splendour.
The total list of genuine works so far amounts to but twenty-three. Let
us see if we can accept a few others which later writers incline to
attribute to the master. I propose to limit the survey strictly to those
pictures which have found recognised champions among modern critics of
repute, for to challenge every "Giorgione" in public and private
collections would be a Herculean task, well calculated to provoke an
[Illustration: _Dixon photo. Duke of Devonshire's Collection,
PAGE OF VANDYCK'S SKETCH-BOOK, WITH GIORGIONE'S "CHRIST BEARING THE
CROSS," IN THE CHURCH OF S. ROCCO, VENICE]
Mr. Berenson, in his _Venetian Painters_, includes two other pictures in
an extremely exclusive list of seventeen genuine Giorgiones. These are
both in Venice, "The Christ bearing the Cross" (in S. Rocco), and "The
Storm calmed by S. Mark" (in the Academy). The question whether or no we
are to accept the former of these pictures has its origin in a curious
contradiction of Vasari, who, in the first edition of his Lives (1550),
names Giorgione as the painter, whilst in the second (1565), he assigns
the authorship to Titian. Later writers follow the latter statement, and
to this day the local guides adhere to this tradition. That the
attribution to Giorgione, however, was still alive in 1620-5, is proved
by the sketch of the picture made by the young Van Dyck during his visit
to Italy, for he has affixed Giorgione's name to it, and not that of
Titian. I am satisfied that this tradition is correct. Giorgione,
and not Titian, painted the still lovely head of Christ, and Giorgione,
not Titian, drew the arm and hand of the Jew who is dragging at the
rope. Characteristic touches are to be seen in the turn of the head, the
sloping axis of the eyes, and especially the fine oval of the face, and
bushy hair. This is the type of Giorgione's Christ; "The Tribute Money"
(at Dresden) shows Titian's. Unfortunately the panel has lost all its
tone, all its glow, and most of its original colour, and we can scarcely
any longer admire the picture which, in Vasari's graphic language, "is
held in the highest veneration by many of the faithful, and even
performs miracles, as is frequently seen"; and again (in his _Life of
Titian_), "it has received more crowns as offerings than have been
earned by Titian and Giorgione both, through the whole course of their
The other picture included by Mr. Berenson in his list is the large
canvas in the Venice Academy, with "The Storm calmed by S. Mark."
According to this critic it is a late work, finished, in small part, by
Paris Bordone. In my opinion, it would be far wiser to withhold
definite judgment in a case where a picture has been so entirely
repainted. Certainly, in its present state, it is impossible to
recognise Giorgione's touch, whilst the glaring red tones of the flesh
and the general smeariness of the whole render all enjoyment out of
question. I am willing to admit that the conception may have been
Giorgione's, although even then it would stand alone as evidence of an
imagination almost Michelangelesque in its _terribilita._ Zanetti (1760)
was the first to connect Giorgione's name with this canvas, Vasari
bestowing inordinate praise upon it as the work of Palma Vecchio! It
only remains to add that this is the companion piece to the well-known
"Fisherman presenting the Ring to the Doge," by Paris Bordone, which
also hangs in the Venice Academy. Both illustrate the same legend, and
both originally hung in the Scuola di S. Marco.
[Illustration: _Anderson photo. Padua Gallery_
FRONTS OF TWO CASSONES, WITH MYTHOLOGICAL SCENES]
Finally, two _cassone_ panels in the gallery at Padua have been
acclaimed by Signor Venturi as the master's own, and with that view
I am entirely agreed. The stories represented are not easily
determinable (as is so often the case with Giorgione), but probably
refer to the legends of Adonis. The splendour of colour, the lurid
light, the richness of effect, are in the highest degree impressive.
What artist but Giorgione would have so revelled in the glories of the
evening sunset, the orange horizon, the distant blue hills? The same
gallery affords several instances of similar decorative pieces by
other Venetian artists which serve admirably to show the great gulf
fixed in quality between Giorgione's work and that of the Schiavones,
the Capriolis, and others who imitated him.
 Oxford Lecture, reported in the _Pall Mall Gazette_, Nov. 10, 1884.
 See _postea_, p. 63.
 Bellini adopted it later in his S. Giov. Crisostomo altar-piece of
 All the more surprising is it that it receives no mention from
Vasari, who merely states that the master worked at Castelfranco.
 I unhesitatingly adopt the titles recently given to these pictures
by Herr Franz Wickhoff (_Jahrbuch der Preussischen Kunstsammlungen_,
Heft. i. 1895), who has at last succeeded in satisfactorily explaining
what has puzzled all the writers since the days of the Anonimo.
 Statius: _Theb_. iv. 730 _ff_. See p. 135.
 _Aen._ viii. 306-348.
 Fry: _Giovanni Bellini_, p. 39.
 ii. 214.
 Ridolfi mentions the following as having been painted by
Giorgione:--"The Age of Gold," "Deucalion and Pyrrha," "Jove hurling
Thunderbolts at the Giants," "The Python," "Apollo and Daphne," "Io
changed into a Cow," "Phaeton, Diana, and Calisto," "Mercury stealing
Apollo's Arms," "Jupiter and Pasiphae," "Cadmus sowing the Dragon's
Teeth," "Dejanira raped by Nessus," and various episodes in the life of
 In the Venice Academy.
 _Archivio, Anno VI_., where reproductions of the two are given side
by side, _fasc_. vi. p. 412.
 The Berlin example (by the Pseudo-Basaiti) is reproduced in the
Illustrated Catalogue of the recent exhibition of Renaissance Art at
Berlin; the Rovigo version (under Leonardo's name!) is possibly by
Two other repetitions exist, one at Stuttgart, the other in the
collection of Sir William Farrer. (Venetian Exhibition, New Gallery,
1894, No. 76.)
 Gentile Bellini's three portraits in the National Gallery (Nos.
808, 1213, 1440) illustrate this growing tendency in Venetian art; all
three probably date from the first years of the sixteenth century.
Gentile died in 1507.
 Berenson: _Venetian Painters_, 3rd edition.
 _Daily Telegraph_, December 29th, 1899.
 Even the so-called Pseudo-Basaiti has been separated and
 1895 Catalogue.
 See Appendix, where the letters are printed in full.
 Crowe and Cavalcaselle, ii. 142, and note.
 Giorgione painted in fresco in the portico of this palace. Zanetti
has preserved the record of a figure said to be "Diligence," in his
print published in 1760.
 See Byron's _Life and Letters_, by Thomas Moore, p. 705.
 See Berenson's _Venetian Painters_, illustrated edition.
 Morelli, ii. 219.
 See p. 32 for a possible explanation of these letters.
 ii. 218
 It has been suggested to me by Dr. Williamson that the letters may
possibly be intended for ZZ (=Zorzon). In old MSS. the capital Z is
sometimes made thus _[closed V]_ or _V._
 i. 248.
 The methods by which he arrived at his conclusion are strangely at
variance with those he so strenuously advocates, and to which the name
of Morellian has come to be attached.
 Reproduced in _Venetian Art at the New Gallery_, under Giorgione's
name, but unanimously recognised as a work of Licinio.
 i. 249.
 Dr. Bode and Signor Venturi both recognise it as Giorgione's work.
 To what depths of vulgarity the Venetian School could sink in later
times, Palma Giovane's "Venus" at Cassel testifies.
 _Repertorium fuer Kunstwissenschaft_. 1896. xix. Band. 6 Heft.
 _North American Review_, October 1899.
 It was photographed by Braun with this attribution.
 Catena has adopted this Giorgionesque conception in his "Judith" in
the Querini-Stampalia Gallery in Venice.
 See _Gazette des Beaux Arts_, 1897, tom, xviii. p. 279.
 See _Gazette des Beaux Arts_, 1893, tom. ix. p. 135 (Prof.
Wickhoff); 1894, tom. xii. p. 332 (Dr. Gronau); and _Repertorium fuer
Kunstwissenschaft_, tom. xiv. p. 316 (Herr von Seidlitz).
 Crowe and Cavalcaselle, ii. 147.
 ii. 217.
 Dr. Gronau points this out in _Rep_. xviii. 4, p. 284.
 See _Guide to the Italian Pictures_ at Hampton Court, by Mary
 Official Catalogue, and Crowe and Cavalcaselle, ii. 502.
 Pater: _The Renaissance_, p. 158.
 ii. 219.
 The execution of this grotesque picture is probably due to Girolamo
da Carpi, or some other assistant of Dosso.
 Crowe and Cavalcaselle, ii. 292, unaccountably suggested Francesco
Vecellio (!) as the author.
 The subject is derived from a passage in the _De Divinitate_ of
Cicero, as Herr Wickhoff has pointed out.
 See _Venetian Painting at the New Gallery_. 1895.
 Unless we are to suppose that Vasari mistook a copy for an
 Francesco Torbido, called "il Moro," born about 1490, and still
living in 1545. Vasari states that he actually worked under Giorgione.
Signed portraits by him are in the Brera, at Munich, and Naples. Palma
Vecchio also deserves serious consideration as possible author of the
 Crowe and Cavalcaselle, ii. 144.
 Morelli, ii. 212.
 See Appendix, p. 123.
 Quoted by Morelli, ii. 212, note.
 Crowe and Cavalcaselle, ii. 155.
 Crowe and Cavalcaselle also cite a portrait in the Casa Ajata at
Crespano; as I have never seen this piece I cannot discuss it. It was
apparently unknown to Morelli, nor is it mentioned by other critics.
 Morelli, ii. 205.
 Crowe and Cavalcaselle, ii. 128. Mr. Claude Phillips, in the
_Gazette des Beaux Arts_, 1884, p. 286, rightly admits Giorgione's
 This sketch is to be found in Van Dyck's note-book, now in
possession of the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth. It is here
reproduced, failing an illustration of the original picture, which the
authorities in Venice decline to have made. (A good reproduction has now
(1903) been made by Anderson of Rome.)
 _Archivio Storico_, vi. 409.
 Ridolfi tells us Giorgione painted, among a long list of decorative
pieces, "The Birth of Adonis," "Venus and Adonis embracing," and "Adonis
killed by the Boar." It is possible he was alluding to these very
 The other important additions made by Signor Venturi in his recent
volume, _La Galleria Crespi_, are alluded to _in loco_, further on. I am
delighted to find some of my own views anticipated in a wholly
It is necessary for anyone who seeks to recover the missing or
unidentified works of an artist like Giorgione, first to define his
conception of the artist based upon a study of acknowledged materials.
The preceding chapter has been devoted to a survey of the best
authenticated pictures, the evidence for the genuineness of which is, as
we have seen, largely a matter of personal opinion. Nevertheless there
is, on the whole, a unanimity of judgment sufficient to warrant our
drawing several inferences as to the general character of Giorgione's