Part 2 out of 3
work, and to attempt a chronological arrangement of the twenty-six
pictures here accepted as genuine.
The first and most obvious fact then to be noted is the amazing variety
of subjects handled by the master. Religious paintings, whether
altar-pieces or easel pictures of a devotional character, are
interspersed with mediaeval allegories, genre subjects, decorative
_cassone_ panels, portraiture, and purely lyrical "Fantasiestuecke,"
corresponding somewhat with the modern "Landscape with Figures." Truly
an astonishing range! Giorgione, as we have seen, could not have been
more than eighteen years in active practice, yet in that short time he
gained successes in all these various fields. His many-sidedness shows
him to have been a man of wide sympathies, whilst the astonishing
rapidity of his development testifies to the precocity of his talent.
His versatility and his precocity are, in fact, the two most prominent
characteristics to be borne in mind in judging his art, for much that
appears at first sight incongruous, if not utterly irreconcilable, can
be explained on this basis. For versatility and precocity in an artist
are qualities invariably attended by unevenness of workmanship, as we
see in the cases of Keats and Schubert, who were gifted with the lyrical
temperament and powers of expression in poetry and music in
corresponding measure to Giorgione in painting. It would show want of
critical acumen to expect from Keats the consistency of Milton, or that
Schubert should keep the unvarying high level of Beethoven, and it is
equally unreasonable to exact from Giorgione the uniform excellence
which characterises Titian. I do not propose at this point to work out
the comparison between the painter, the musician, and the poet; this
must be reserved until the final summing-up of Giorgione as artist, when
we have examined all his work. But this point I do insist on, that from
the very nature of things Giorgione's art is, and must be, uneven, that
whilst at times it reaches sublime heights, at other times it attains to
a level of only average excellence.
And so the criticism which condemns a picture claiming to be Giorgione's
because "it is not _good_ enough for him," does not recognise the truth
that for all that it may be _characteristic_, and, consequently,
perfectly authentic. Modern criticism has been apt to condemn because
it has expected too much; let us not blind our eyes to the weaknesses,
even to the failures of great men, who, if they lose somewhat of the
hero in our eyes, win our sympathy and our love the more for being
I have spoken of Giorgione's versatility, his precocity, and the natural
inequality of his work. There is another characteristic which commonly
exists when these qualities are found united, and that is
Productiveness. Giorgione, according to all analogy, must have produced
a mass of work. It is idle to assert, as some modern writers have done,
that at the utmost his easel pictures could have been but few, because
most of his short life was devoted to painting frescoes, which have
perished. It is true that Giorgione spent time and energy over fresco
painting, and from the very publicity of such work as the frescoes on
the Fondaco de' Tedeschi, he came to be widely known in this direction,
but it is infinitely probable that his output in other branches was
enormous. The twenty-six pictures we have already accepted, plus the
lost frescoes, cannot possibly represent the sum-total of his artistic
activities, and to say that everything else has disappeared is, as I
shall try to show, not correct. We know, moreover, from the Anonimo (who
was almost Giorgione's contemporary) that many pictures existed in his
day which cannot now be traced, and if we add these and some of the
others cited by Vasari and Ridolfi (without assuming that every one was
a genuine example), it goes to prove that Giorgione did paint a good
number of easel pictures. But the evidence of the twenty-six themselves
is conclusive. They illustrate so many different phases, they stand
sometimes so widely apart, that intermediate links are necessarily
implied. Moreover, as Giorgione's influence on succeeding artists is
allowed by all writers, a considerable number of his easel pictures must
have been in circulation, from which these imitators drew inspiration,
for he certainly never kept, as Bellini did, a body of assistants and
pupils to hand on his teaching, and disseminate his style.
Productiveness must then have been a feature of his art, and as so few
pictures have as yet come to be accepted as genuine, the majority must
have perished or been lost to sight for the time. That much yet remains
hidden away in private possession I am fully persuaded, especially in
England and in Italy, and one day we may yet find the originals of the
several old copies after Giorgione which I enumerate elsewhere. In
some cases I believe I have been fortunate enough to detect actually
missing originals, and occasionally restore to Giorgione pieces that
parade under Titian's name. Much, however, yet remains to be done, and
the research work now being systematically conducted in the Venetian
archives by Dr. Gustav Ludwig and Signor Pietro Paoletti may yield rich
results in the discovery of documents relating to the master himself,
which may help us to identify his productions, and possibly confirm some
of the conjectures I venture to make in the following chapters.
But before proceeding to examine other pictures which I am persuaded
really emanate from Giorgione himself, let us attempt to place in
approximate chronological order the twenty-six works already accepted as
genuine, for, once their sequence is established, we shall the more
readily detect the lacunae in the artist's evolution, and so the more
easily recognise any missing transitional pieces which may yet exist.
The earliest stage in Giorgione's career is naturally marked by
adherence to the teaching and example of his immediate predecessors.
However precocious he may have been, however free from academic
training, however independent of the tradition of the schools, he
nevertheless clearly betrays an artistic dependence, above all, on
Giovanni Bellini. The "Christ bearing the Cross" and the two little
pictures in the Uffizi are direct evidence of this, and these,
therefore, must be placed quite early in his career. We should not be
far wrong in dating them 1493-5. Carpaccio's influence is also apparent,
as we have already noticed, and through this channel Giorgione's art
connects with the more archaic style of Gentile Bellini, Giovanni's
elder brother. Thus in him are united the quattrocentist tradition and
the fresher ideals of the cinquecento, which found earliest expression
in Giambellini's Allegories of about 1486-90. The poetic element in
these works strongly appealed to Giorgione's sensitive nature, and we
find him developing this side of his art in the Beaumont "Adoration,"
and the National Gallery "Epiphany," both of which are clearly early
productions. But there is a gap of a few years between the Uffizi
pictures and the London ones, for the latter are maturer in every way,
and it is clear that the interval must have been spent in constant
practice. Yet we cannot point with certainty to any of the other
pictures in our list as standing midway in development, and here it is
that a lacuna exists in the artist's career. Two or three years,
possibly more, remain unaccounted for, just at a period, too, when the
young artist would be most impressionable. I am inclined to think that
he may have painted the "Birth of Paris" during these years, but we have
only the copy of a part of the composition to go by, and the statement
of the Anonimo that the picture was one of Giorgione's early works.
The "Adrastus and Hypsipyle" must also be a youthful production prior to
1500, and in the direction of portraiture we have the Berlin "Young
Man," which, for reasons already given, must be placed quite early. It
is not possible to assign exact dates to any of these works, all that
can be said with any certainty is that they fall within the last decade
of the fifteenth century, and illustrate the rapid development of
Giorgione's art up to his twenty-fourth year.
A further stage in his evolution is reached in the Castelfranco
"Madonna," the first important undertaking of which we have some record.
Tradition connects the painting of this altar-piece with an event of the
year 1504, the death of the young Matteo Costanzo, whose family, so it
is said, commissioned Giorgione to paint a memorial altar-piece, and
decorate the family chapel at Castelfranco with frescoes. Certain it is
that the arms of the Costanzi appear in the picture, but the evidence
which connects the commission with the death of Matteo seems to rest
mainly on his alleged likeness to the S. Liberale in the picture, a
theory, we may remark, which is quite consistent with Matteo being still
alive. Considering the extraordinary rapidity of the artist's
development, it would be more natural to place the execution of this
work a year or two earlier than 1504, but, in any case, we may accept it
as typical of Giorgione's style in the first years of the century. The
"Judith" (at St. Petersburg), as we have already seen, probably
immediately precedes it, so that we get two masterpieces approximately
In the field of portraiture Giorgione must have made rapid strides from
the very first. Vasari states that he painted the portraits of the great
Consalvo Ferrante, and of one of his captains, on the occasion of their
visit to the Doge Agostino Barberigo. Now this event presumably took
place in 1500, so that, at that early date, he seems already to have
been a portrait painter of repute. Confirmatory evidence of this is
furnished by the statement of Ridolfi, that Giorgione took the portrait
of Agostino Barberigo himself. Now the Doge died in 1500, so that if
Giorgione really painted him, he could not have been more than
twenty-three years of age at the time, an extraordinarily early age to
have been honoured with so important a commission; this fact certainly
presupposes successes with other patrons, whose portraits Giorgione must
have taken during the years 1495-1500. I hope to be able to identify two
or three of these, but for the moment we may note that by 1500
Giorgione was a recognised master of portraiture. The only picture on
our list likely to date from the period 1500-1504 is the "Knight of
Malta," the "Young Man" (at Buda-Pesth) being later in execution.
From 1504 on, the rapid rate of progress is more than fully maintained.
Only six years remain of the artist's short life, yet in that time he
rose to full power, and anticipated the splendid achievements of
Titian's maturity some forty years later. First in order, probably, come
the "Venus" (Dresden) and the "Concert" (Pitti), both showing
originality of conception and mastery of handling. The date of the
frescoes on the Fondaco de' Tedeschi is known to be 1507-8, but, as
nothing remains but a few patches of colour in one spot high up over the
Grand Canal, we have no visible clue to guide us in our estimate of
their artistic worth. Vasari's description, and Zanetti's engraving of a
few fragments (done in 1760, when the frescoes were already in decay),
go to prove that Giorgione at this period studied the antique,
"commingling statuesque classicism and the flesh and blood of real
At this period it is most probable we must place the "Judgment of
Solomon" (at Kingston Lacy), possibly, as I have already pointed out,
the very work commissioned by the State for the audience chamber of the
Council, on which, as we know from documents, Giorgione was engaged in
1507 and 1508. It was never finished, and the altogether exceptional
character of the work places it outside the regular course of the
artist's development. It was an ambitious venture in an unwonted
direction, and is naturally marked and marred by unsatisfactory
features. Giorgione's real powers are shown by the "Pastoral Symphony"
(in the Louvre), and the "Portrait of the Young Man" (at Buda-Pesth),
productions dating from the later years 1508-10. The "Three Ages" (in
the Pitti) may also be included, and if Giorgione conceived and even
partly executed the "Storm calmed by S. Mark" (Venice Academy), this
also must be numbered among his last works.
Morelli states: "It was only in the last six years of his short life
(from about 1505-11) that Giorgione's power and greatness became fully
developed." I think this is true in the sense that Giorgione was
ever steadily advancing towards a fuller and riper understanding of the
world, that his art was expanding into a magnificence which found
expression in larger forms and richer colour, that he was acquiring
greater freedom of touch, and more perfect command of the technical
resources of his art. But sufficient stress is not laid, I think, upon
the masterly achievement of the earlier times; the tendency is to refer
too much to later years, and not recognise sufficiently the prodigious
precocity before 1500. One is tempted at times to question the accuracy
of Vasari's statement that Giorgione died in his thirty-fourth year,
which throws his birth back only to 1477. Some modern writers disregard
this statement altogether, and place his birth "before 1477." Be
this as it may, it does not alter the fact that by 1500 Giorgione had
already attained in portraiture to the highest honours, and in this
sphere, I believe, he won his earliest successes. My object in the
following chapter will be to endeavour to point out some of the very
portraits, as yet unidentified, which I am persuaded were produced by
Giorgione chiefly in these earlier years, and thus partly to fill some
of the lacunae we have found in tracing his artistic evolution.
 A list of these is given at p. 138.
 _Vide_ List of Works, pp. 124-137.
 The results of these archivistic researches are being published in
the _Repertorium fuer Kunstwissenschaft_.
 For the evidence, see _Magazine of Art_, April 1893.
 Meravig, i. 126.
 Vasari saw Giorgione's portrait of the succeeding Doge Leonardo
 See Crowe and Cavalcaselle, ii. 141.
 Crowe and Cavalcaselle, _ibid_.
 ii. 213. We now know that he died in 1510.
 Crowe and Cavalcaselle, ii. 119. Bode: _Cicerone_.
Vasari, in his _Life of Titian_, in the course of a somewhat confused
account of the artist's earliest years, tells us how Titian, "having
seen the manner of Giorgione, early resolved to abandon that of Gian
Bellino, although well grounded therein. He now, therefore, devoted
himself to this purpose, and in a short time so closely imitated
Giorgione that his pictures were sometimes taken for those of that
master, as will be related below." And he goes on: "At the time when
Titian began to adopt the manner of Giorgione, being then not more than
eighteen, he took the portrait of a gentleman of the Barberigo family
who was his friend, and this was considered very beautiful, the
colouring being true and natural, and the hair so distinctly painted
that each one could be counted, as might also the stitches in a
satin doublet, painted in the same work; in a word, it was so well and
carefully done, that it would have been taken for a picture by
Giorgione, if Titian had not written his name on the dark ground." Now
the statement that Titian began to imitate Giorgione at the age of
eighteen is inconsistent with Vasari's own words of a few paragraphs
previously: "About the year 1507, Giorgione da Castel Franco, not being
satisfied with that mode of proceeding (i.e. 'the dry, hard, laboured
manner of Gian Bellino, which Titian also acquired'), began to give to
his works an unwonted softness and relief, painting them in a very
beautiful manner.... Having seen the manner of Giorgione, Titian now
devoted himself to this purpose," etc. In 1507 Titian was thirty years
old, not eighteen, so that both statements cannot be correct. Now it
is highly improbable that Titian had already discarded the manner of
Bellini as early as 1495, at the age of eighteen, and had so identified
himself with Giorgione that their work was indistinguishable.
Everything, on the contrary, points to Titian's evolution being anything
but rapid; in fact, so far as records go, there is no mention of his
name until he painted the facade of the Fondaco de' Tedeschi in company
with Giorgione in 1507. It is infinitely more probable that Vasari's
first statement is the more reliable--viz. that Titian began to adopt
Giorgione's manner about the year 1507, and it follows, therefore, that
the portrait of the gentleman of the Barberigo family, if by Titian,
dates from this time, and not 1495.
[Illustration: _Dixon photo. Collection of the Earl of Darnley, Cobham
PORTRAIT OF A GENTLEMAN]
Now there is a picture in the Earl of Darnley's Collection at Cobham
Hall which answers pretty closely to Vasari's description. It is a
supposed portrait of Ariosto by Titian, but it is as much unlike the
court poet of Ferrara as the portrait in the National Gallery (No. 636)
which, with equal absurdity, long passed for that of Ariosto, a name now
wisely removed from the label. This magnificent portrait at Cobham was
last exhibited at the Old Masters in 1895, and the suggestion was then
made that it might be the very picture mentioned by Vasari in the
passage quoted above. I believe this ingenious suggestion is
correct, and that we have in the Cobham "Ariosto" the portrait of one of
the Barberigo family said to have been painted by Titian in the manner
of Giorgione. "Thoroughly Giorgionesque," says Mr. Claude Phillips, in
his _Life of Titian_, "is the soberly tinted yet sumptuous picture in
its general arrangement, as in its general tone, and in this respect it
is the fitting companion and the descendant of Giorgione's 'Antonio
Broccardo' at Buda-Pesth, of his 'Knight of Malta' at the Uffizi. Its
resemblance, moreover, is, as regards the general lines of the
composition, a very striking one to the celebrated Sciarra
'Violin-Player,' by Sebastiano del Piombo.... The handsome, manly head
has lost both subtlety and character through some too severe process of
cleaning, but Venetian art has hardly anything more magnificent to show
than the costume, with the quilted sleeve of steely, blue-grey satin,
which occupies so prominent a place in the picture." Its Giorgionesque
character is therefore recognised by this writer, as also by Dr. Georg
Gronau, in his recent _Life of Titian_ (p. 21), who significantly
remarks, "Its relation to the 'Portrait of a Young Man' by Giorgione, at
Berlin, is obvious."
It is a pity that both these discerning writers of the modern school
have not gone a little further and seen that the picture before them is
not only Giorgionesque, but by Giorgione himself. The mistake of
confusing Titian and Giorgione is as old as Vasari, who, _misled by the
signature_, naively remarks, "It would have been taken for a picture by
Giorgione if Titian had not written his name on the dark ground (in
ombra)." _Hinc illae lacrimae!_ Let us look into this question of
signatures, the ultimate and irrevocable proof in the minds of the
innocent that a picture must be genuine. Titian's methods of signing his
well-authenticated works varied at different stages of his career. The
earliest signature is always "Ticianus," and this is found on works
dating down to 1522 (the "S. Sebastian" at Brescia). The usual signature
of the later time is "Titianus," probably the earliest picture with it
being the Ancona altar-piece of 1520. "Tician" is found only twice. Now,
without necessarily condemning every signature which does not accord
with this practice, we must explain any apparent irregularity, such, for
instance, as the "Titianus F." on the Cobham Hall picture. This form of
signature points to the period after 1520, a date manifestly
inconsistent with the style of painting. But there is more than this to
arouse suspicion. The signature has been painted over another, or
rather, the F. (= fecit) is placed over an older V, which can still
be traced. A second V appears further to the right. It looks as if
originally the balustrade only bore the double V, and that "Titianus F."
were added later. But it was there in Vasari's day (1544), so that we
arrive at the interesting conclusion that Titian's signature must have
been added between 1520 and 1544--that is, in his own lifetime. This
singular fact opens up a new chapter in the history of Titian's
relationship to Giorgione, and points to practices well calculated to
confuse historians of a later time, and enhance the pupil's reputation
at the expense of the deceased master. Not that Titian necessarily
appropriated Giorgione's work, and passed it off as his own, but we know
that on the latter's death Titian completed several of his unfinished
pictures, and in one instance, we are told, added a Cupid to Giorgione's
"Venus." It may be that this was the case with the "Ariosto," and that
Titian felt justified in adding his signature on the plea of something
he did to it in after years; but, explain this as we may, the important
point to recognise is that in all essential particulars the "Ariosto" is
the creation not of Titian, but of Giorgione. How is this to be proved?
It will be remembered that when discussing whether Giorgione or Titian
painted the Pitti "Concert," the "Giorgionesque" qualities of the work
were so obvious that it seemed going out of the way to introduce
Titian's name, as Morelli did, and ascribe the picture to him in a
Giorgionesque phase. It is just the same here. The conception is
typically Giorgione's own, the thoughtful, dreamy look, the turn of the
head, the refinement and distinction of this wonderful figure alike
proclaim him; whilst in the workmanship the quilted satin is exactly
paralleled by the painting of the dress in the Berlin and Buda-Pesth
portraits. Characteristic of Giorgione but not of Titian, is the oval of
the face, the construction of the head, the arrangement of the hair.
Titian, so far as I am aware, never introduces a parapet or ledge into
his portraits, Giorgione nearly always does so; and finally we have the
mysterious VV which is found on the Berlin portrait, and
(half-obliterated) on the Buda-Pesth "Young Man." In short, no one would
naturally think of Titian were it not for the misleading signature, and
I venture to hope competent judges will agree with me that the proofs
positive of Giorgione's authorship are of greater weight than a
signature which--for reasons given--is not above suspicion.
Before I leave this wonderful portrait of a gentleman of the Barberigo
family (so says Vasari), a word as to its date is necessary. The
historian tells us it was painted by Titian at the age of eighteen.
Clearly some tradition existed which told of the youthfulness of the
painter, but may we assume that Giorgione was only eighteen at the time?
That would throw the date back to 1495. Is it possible he can have
painted this splendid head so early in his career? The freedom of
handling, and the mastery of technique certainly suggests a rather later
stage, but I am inclined to believe Giorgione was capable of this
accomplishment before 1500. The portrait follows the Berlin "Young Man,"
and may well take its place among the portraits which, as we have seen,
Giorgione must have painted during the last decade of the century prior
to receiving his commission to paint the Doge. And in this connection it
is of special interest to find the Doge was himself a Barberigo. May we
not conclude that the success of this very portrait was one of the
immediate causes which led to Giorgione obtaining so flattering a
commission from the head of the State?
I mentioned incidentally that four repetitions of the "Ariosto" exist,
all derived presumably from the Cobham original. We have a further
striking proof of the popularity of this style of portraiture in a
picture belonging to Mr. Benson, exhibited at the Venetian Exhibition,
New Gallery, 1894-5, where the painter, whoever he may be, has
apparently been inspired by Giorgione's original. The conception is
wholly Giorgionesque, but the hardness of contour and the comparative
lack of quality in the touch betrays another and an inferior hand.
Nevertheless the portrait is of great interest, for could we but imagine
it as fine in execution as in conception we should have an original
Giorgione portrait before us. The features are curiously like those of
the Barberigo gentleman.
* * * * *
In his recently published _Life of Titian_, Dr. Gronau passes from the
consideration of the Cobham Hall picture immediately to that of the
"Portrait of a Lady," known as "La Schiavona," in the collection of
Signor Crespi in Milan. In his opinion these two works are intimately
related to one another, and of them he significantly writes thus: "The
influence of Giorgione upon Titian" (to whom he ascribes both portraits)
"is evident. The connection can be traced even in the details of the
treatment and technique. The separate touches of light on the
gold-striped head-dress which fastens back the lady's beautiful dark
hair, the variegated scarf thrown lightly round her waist, the folds of
the sleeves, the hand with the finger-tips laid on the parapet: all
these details might indicate the one master as well as the other."
The transition from the Cobham Hall portrait to the "Lady" in the Crespi
Collection is, to my mind, also a natural and proper one. The painter of
the one is the painter of the other. Tradition is herein also perfectly
consistent, and tradition has in each case a plausible signature to
support it. The TITIANVS F. of the former portrait is paralleled by the
T.V.--i.e. Titianus Vecellio, or Titianus Veneziano of the latter. I
have already dealt at some length with the question of the former
signature, which appears to have been added actually during Titian's
lifetime; in the present instance the letters appear almost, if not
quite, coeval with the rest of the painting, and were undoubtedly
intended for Titian's signature. The cases, therefore, are so far
parallel, and the question naturally arises, Did Titian really have any
hand in the painting of this portrait? Signor Venturi strongly
denies it; to him the T.V. matters nothing, and he boldly proclaims
Licinio the author.
I confess the matter is not thus lightly to be disposed of; there is no
valid reason to doubt the antiquity of the inscription, which, on the
analogy of the Cobham Hall picture, may well have been added in
Titian's own lifetime, and for the same reason that I there
suggested--viz. that Titian had in some way or other a hand in the
completion, or may be the alteration, of his deceased master's work.
For it is my certain conviction that the painter of the Crespi "Lady" is
none other than Giorgione himself.
Before, however, discussing the question of authorship, it is a matter
of some moment to be able to identify the lady represented. An old
tradition has it that this is Caterina Cornaro, and, in my judgment,
this is perfectly correct. Fortunately, we possess several
well-authenticated likenesses of this celebrated daughter of the
Republic. She had been married to the King of Cyprus, and after his
death had relinquished her quasi-sovereign rights in favour of Venice.
She then returned home (in 1489) and retired to Asolo, near
Castelfranco, where she passed a quiet country life, enjoying the
society of the poets and artists of the day, and reputed for her
kindliness and geniality. Her likeness is to be seen in three
1. At Buda-Pesth, by Gentile Bellini, with inscription.
2. In the Venice Academy, also by Gentile Bellini, who introduces her
and her attendant ladies kneeling in the foreground, to the left, in his
well-known "Miracle of the True Cross," dated 1500.
3. In the Berlin Gallery, by Jacopo de' Barbari, where she appears
kneeling in a composition of the "Madonna and Child and Saints."
[Illustration: _From a print. Pourtales Collection, Berlin_
MARBLE BUST OF CATERINA CORNARO]
Finally we see Caterina Cornaro in a bust in the Pourtales Collection at
Berlin, here reproduced, seen full face, as in the Crespi portrait.
I know not on what outside authority the identification rests in the
case of the bust, but it certainly appears to represent the same lady as
in the above-mentioned pictures, and is rightly accepted as such by
modern German critics.
[Illustration: _Anderson photo. Crespi Collection, Milan_
PORTRAIT OF CATERINA CORNARO]
To my eyes, we have the same lady in the Crespi portrait. Mr. Berenson,
unaware of the identity, thus describes her: "Une grande dame
italienne est devant nous, eclatante de sante et de magnificence,
energique, debordante, pleine d'une chaude sympathie, source de vie et
de joie pour tous ceux qui l'entourent, et cependant reflechie,
penetrante, un peu ironique bien qu'indulgente."
Could a better description be given to fit the character of Caterina
Cornaro, as she is known to us in history? How little likely, moreover,
that tradition should have dubbed this homely person the ex-Queen of
Cyprus had it not been the truth!
Now, if my contention is correct, chronology determines a further point.
Caterina died in 1510, so that this likeness of her (which is clearly
taken from life) must have been done in or before the first decade of
the sixteenth century. This excludes Licinio and Schiavone (both of
whom have been suggested as the artist), for the latter was not even
born, and the former--whose earliest known picture is dated 1520--must
have been far too young in 1510 to have already achieved so splendid a
result. Palma is likewise excluded, so that we are driven to choose
between Titian and Giorgione, the only two Venetian artists capable of
such a masterpiece before 1510.
As to which of these two artists it is, opinions--so far as any have
been published--are divided. Yet Dr. Gronau, who claims it for Titian,
admits in the same breath that the hand is the same as that which
painted the Cobham Hall picture and the Pitti "Concert," a judgment in
which I fully concur. Dr. Bode labels it "Art des Giorgione."
Finally, Mr. Berenson, with rare insight proclaimed the conception and
the spirit of the picture to be Giorgione's. But he asserts that
the execution is not fine enough to be the master's own, and would rank
it--with the "Judith" at St. Petersburg--in the category of contemporary
copies after lost originals. This view is apparently based on the
dangerous maxim that where the execution of a picture is inferior to the
conception, the work is presumably a copy. But two points must be borne
in mind, the actual condition of the picture, and the character of the
artist who painted it. Mr. Berenson has himself pointed out
elsewhere that Giorgione, "while always supreme in his conceptions,
did not live long enough to acquire a perfection of draughtsmanship and
chiaroscuro equally supreme, and that, consequently, there is not a
single universally accepted work of his which is absolutely free from
the reproaches of the academic pedant." Secondly, the surface of this
portrait has lost its original glow through cleaning, and has suffered
other damage, which actually debarred Crowe and Cavalcaselle (who saw
the picture in 1877) from pronouncing definitely upon the authorship.
The eyes and flesh, they say, were daubed over, the hair was new,
the colour modern. A good deal of this "restoration" has since been
removed, but the present appearance of the panel bears witness to the
harsh treatment suffered years ago. Nevertheless, the original work is
before us, and not a copy of a lost original, and Mr. Berenson's
enthusiastic praise ought to be lavished on the actual picture as it
must have appeared in all its freshness and purity. "Je n'hesiterais
pas," he declares, "a le proclamer le plus important des portraits
du maitre, un chef-d'oeuvre ne le cedant a aucun portrait d'aucun pays
ou d'aucun temps."
And certainly Giorgione has created a masterpiece. The opulence of
Rubens and the dignity of Titian are most happily combined with a
delicacy and refinement such as Giorgione alone can impart. The intense
grasp of character here displayed, the exquisite _intimite_, places this
wonderful creation of his on the highest level of portraiture. There is
far less of that moody abstraction which awakens our interest in most of
his portraits, but much greater objective truth, arising from that
perfect sympathy between artist and sitter, which is of the first
importance in portrait-painting. History tells us of the friendly
encouragement the young Castelfrancan received at the hands of this
gracious lady, and he doubtless painted this likeness of her in her
country home at Asolo, near to Castelfranco, and we may well imagine
with what eagerness he acquitted himself of so flattering a commission.
Vasari tells us that he saw a portrait of Caterina, Queen of Cyprus,
painted by Giorgione from the life, in the possession of Messer Giovanni
Cornaro. I believe that picture to be the very one we are now
discussing. The documents quoted by Signor Venturi do not go
back beyond 1640, so that it is, of course, impossible to prove the
identity, but the expression "from the life" (as opposed to Titian's
posthumous portrait of her) applies admirably to our likeness. What a
contrast to the formal presentation of the queenly lady, crown and
jewels and all, that Gentile Bellini has left us in his portrait of her
now at Buda-Pesth!--and in that other picture of his where she is seen
kneeling in royal robes, with her train of court ladies, as though
attending a state function! How Giorgione has penetrated through all
outward show, and revealed the charm of manner, the delightful
_bonhomie_ of his royal patroness!
We are enabled, by a simple calculation of dates, to fix approximately
the period when this portrait was painted. Gentile Bellini's picture of
"The Miracle of the True Cross" is dated 1500--that is, when Caterina
Cornaro was forty-six years old (she was born in 1454). In Signor
Crespi's picture she appears, if anything, younger in appearance, so
that, at latest, Giorgione painted her portrait in 1500. Thus, again, we
arrive at the same conclusion, that the master distinguished himself
very early in his career in the field of portraiture, and the similarity
in style between this portrait and the Cobham Hall one is accounted for
on chronological grounds. All things considered, it is very probable
that this portrait was his earliest real success, and proved a passport
to the favourable notice of the fashionable society of Venice, leading
to the commission to paint the Doge, and the Gran Signori, who visited
the capital in the year 1500. That Giorgione was capable of such an
achievement before his twenty-fourth year constitutes, we may surely
admit, his strongest right to the title of Genius.
The Barberigo gentleman and the Caterina Cornaro are comparatively
unfamiliar, owing to their seclusion in private galleries. Not so the
third portrait, which hangs in the National Gallery, and which, in my
opinion, should be included among Giorgione's authentic productions.
This is No. 636, "Portrait of a Poet," attributed to Palma Vecchio; and
the catalogue continues: "This portrait of an unknown personage was
formerly ascribed to Titian, and supposed to represent Ariosto; it has
long since been recognised as a fine work by Palma." I certainly do not
know by whom this portrait was first recognised as such, but as the
transformation was suddenly effected one day under the late Sir Frederic
Burton's _regime_, it is natural to suppose he initiated it. No one
to-day would be found, I suppose, to support the older view, and the
rechristening certainly received the approval of Morelli; modern
critics apparently acquiesce without demur, so that it requires no
little courage to dissent from so unanimous an opinion. I confess,
therefore, it was no small satisfaction to me to find the question had
been raised by an independent inquirer, Mr. Dickes, who published in the
_Magazine of Art_, 1893, the results of his investigations, the
conclusion at which he arrived being that this is the portrait of
Prospero Colonna, Liberator of Italy, painted by Giorgione in the year
Briefly stated, the argument is as follows:--
I. (1) The person represented closely resembles
Prospero Colonna (1464-1523), whose authentic
likeness is to be seen--
(_a_) In an engraving in Pompilio Totti's
"Ritratti et Elogie di Capitani illustri.
(_b_) In a bust in the Colonna Gallery, Rome.
(_c_) In an engraving in the "Columnensium
Procerum" of the Abbas Domenicus
de Santis. Rome, 1675.
(All three are reproduced in the article in question.)
[Illustration: _Hanfstaengl photo. National Gallery, London_.
PORTRAIT OF A MAN]
(2) The description of Prospero Colonna, given
by Pompilio Totti (in the above book)
tallies with our portrait.
(3) The accessories in the picture confirm the
identity--e.g. the St Andrew's Cross, or
saltire, is on the Colonna family banner;
the bay, emblem of victory, is naturally
associated with a great captain; the rosary
may refer to the fact of Prospero's residence
as lay brother in the monastery of the
Olivetani, near Fondi, which was rebuilt
by him in 1500.
II. Admitting the identity of person, chronology
determines the probable date of the execution
of this portrait, for Prospero visited
Venice presumably in the train of Consalvo
Ferrante in 1500. He was then thirty-six
years of age.
III. Assuming this date to be correct, no other Venetian
artist but Giorgione was capable of producing
so fine and admittedly "Giorgionesque"
a portrait at so early a date.
IV. Internal evidence points to Giorgione's authorship.
It will be seen that the logic employed is identical with that by which
I have tried to establish the identity of Signor Crespi's picture. In
the present case, I should like to insist on the fourth consideration
rather than on the other points, iconographical or chronological, and
see how far our portrait bears on its face the impress of Giorgione's
The conception, to begin with, is characteristic of him--the pensive
charm, the feeling of reserve, the touch of fanciful imagination in the
decorative accessories, but, above all, the extreme refinement. All this
very naturally fits the portrait of a poet, and at a time when it was
customary to label every portrait with a celebrated name, what more
appropriate than Ariosto, the court poet of Ferrara? But this dreamy
reserve, this intensity of suppressed feeling is characteristic of all
Giorgione's male portraits, and is nowhere more splendidly expressed
than in this lovely figure. Where can the like be found in Palma, or
even Titian? Titian is more virile in his conception, less lyrical, less
fanciful, Palma infinitely less subtle in characterisation. Both are
below the level of Giorgione in refinement; neither ever made of a
portrait such a thing of sheer beauty as this. If this be Palma's work,
it stands alone, not only far surpassing his usual productions in
quality, but revealing him in a wholly new phase; it is a difference not
of degree, but of kind.
[Illustration: _Anderson photo. Querini-Stampalia Collection, Venice_
PORTRAIT OF A MAN (Unfinished)]
Positive proofs of Giorgione's hand are found in the way the hair is
rendered--that lovely dark auburn hair so often seen in his work,--in
the radiant oval of the face, contrasting so finely with the shadows,
which are treated exactly as in the Cobham picture, only that here the
chiaroscuro is more masterly, in the delicate modelling of the features,
the pose of the head, and in the superb colour of the whole. In short,
there is not a stroke that does not reveal the great master, and no
other, and it is incredible that modern criticism has not long ago
united in recognising Giorgione's handiwork.[10
The date suggested--1500--is also consistent with our own deductions as
to Giorgione's rapid development, and the distinguished character of his
sitter--if it be Prospero Colonna--is quite in keeping with the vogue
the artist was then enjoying, for it was in this very year, it will be
remembered, that he painted the Doge Agostino Barberigo.
I therefore consider that Mr. Dickes' brilliant conjectures have much to
support them, and, so far as the authorship is concerned, I
unhesitatingly accept the view, which he was the first to express, that
Giorgione, and no other, is the painter. Our National Collection
therefore boasts, in my opinion, a masterpiece of his portraiture.
If it were not that Morelli, Mr. Berenson and others have recognised in
the "Portrait of a Gentleman," in the Querini-Stampalia Gallery in
Venice, the same hand as in the National Gallery picture, one might well
hesitate to claim it for Giorgione, so repainted is its present
condition. I make bold, however, to include it in my list, and the more
readily as Signor Venturi definitely assigns it to Giorgione himself,
whose name, moreover, it has always borne. This unfinished portrait is,
despite its repaint, extraordinarily attractive, the rich browns and
reds forming a colour-scheme of great beauty. It cannot compare,
however, in quality with our National Gallery highly-finished example,
to which it is also inferior in beauty of conception. These two
portraits illustrate the variableness of the painter; both were probably
done about the same time--the one seemingly _con amore_, the other left
unfinished, as though the artist or his sitter were dissatisfied.
Certainly the cause could not have been Giorgione's death, for the style
is obviously early, probably prior to 1500.
The view expressed by Morelli that this may be a portrait of one of
the Querini family, who were Palma's patrons, has nothing tangible to
support it, once Palma's authorship is contested. But the unimaginative
Palma was surely incapable of such things as this and the National
[Illustration: Collection of the Honourable Mrs. Meynell-Ingram, Temple
PORTRAIT OF A MAN]
England boasts, I believe, yet another magnificent original Giorgione
portrait, and one that is probably totally unfamiliar to connoisseurs.
This is the "Portrait of an Unknown Man," in the possession of the Hon.
Mrs Meynell-Ingram at Temple Newsam in Yorkshire. A small and
ill-executed print of it was published in the _Magazine of Art_, April
1893, where it was attributed to Titian. Its Giorgionesque character is
apparent at first glance, and I venture to hope that all those who may
be fortunate enough to study the original, as I have done, will
recognise the touch of the great master himself. Its intense expression,
its pathos, the distant look tinged with melancholy, remind us at once
of the Buda-Pesth, the Borghese, and the (late) Casa Loschi pictures;
its modelling vividly recalls the central figure of the Pitti "Concert,"
the painting of sleeve and gloves is like that in the National Gallery
and Querini-Stampalia portraits just discussed. The general pose is most
like that of the Borghese "Lady." The parapet, the wavy hair, the
high cranium are all so many outward and visible signs of Giorgione's
spirit, whilst none but he could have created such magnificent contrasts
of colour, such effects of light and shade. This is indeed Giorgione,
the great master, the magician who holds us all fascinated by his
[Illustration: _Hanfstaengl photo. Vienna Gallery_
PORTRAIT OF A MAN]
Last on the list of portraits which I am claiming as Giorgione's, and
probably latest in date of execution, comes the splendid so-called
"Physician Parma," in the Vienna Gallery. Crowe and Cavalcaselle thus
describe it: "This masterly portrait is one of the noblest creations of
its kind, finished with a delicacy quite surprising, and modelled with
the finest insight into the modulations of the human flesh....
Notwithstanding, the touch and the treatment are utterly unlike
Titian's, having none of his well-known freedom and none of his
technical peculiarities. Yet if asked to name the artist capable of
painting such a likeness, one is still at a loss. It is considered to be
identical with the portrait mentioned by Ridolfi as that of 'Parma' in
the collection of B. della Nave (Merav., i. 220); but this is not
proved, nor is there any direct testimony to show that it is by Titian
Herr Wickhoff goes a step further. He says: "Un autre portrait qui
porte le nom de Titien est egalement l'une des oeuvres les plus
remarquables du Musee. On pretend qu'il represente le 'Medecin du
Titien, Parma'; mais c'est la une pure invention, imaginee par un ancien
directeur du Musee, M. Rosa, et admise de confiance par ses successeurs.
M. Rosa avait ete amene a la concevoir par la lecture d'un passage de
Ridolfi. Le costume suffirait a lui seul, pourtant, pour la dementir:
c'est le costume officiel d'un senateur venitien, et qui par suite ne
saurait avoir ete porte par un medecin. Le tableau est incontestablement
de la meme main que les deux 'Concerts' du Palais Pitti et du Louvre,
qui portent tous deux le nom de Giorgione. Si l'on attribue ces deux
tableaux au Giorgione, c'est a lui aussi qu'il faut attribuer le
portrait de Vienne; si, comme feu Morelli, on attribue le tableau du
Palais Pitti au Titien, il faut approuver l'attribution actuelle de
notre portrait au meme maitre." I am glad that Herr Wickhoff recognises
the same hand in all three works. I am sorry that in his opinion this
should be Domenico Campagnola's. I have already referred to this opinion
when discussing the Louvre "Concert," and must again emphatically
dissent from this view. Campagnola, as I know him in his pictures and
frescoes at Padua,--the only authenticated examples by which to judge
him,--was utterly inadequate to such tasks. The grandeur and
dignity of the Vienna portrait is worthy of Titian, whose virility
Giorgione more nearly approaches here than anywhere else. But I agree
with the verdict of Crowe and Cavalcaselle that his is not the hand that
painted it, and believe that the author of the Temple Newsam "Man" also
produced this portrait, probably a few years later, at the close of his
 Or "points" (_punte_). The translation is that used by Blashfield
and Hopkins, vol. iv. 260.
 Assuming he was born in 1477, which is by no means certain.
 Dr. Richter in the _Art Journal_, 1895, p. 90. Mr. Claude Phillips,
in his _Earlier Work of Titian_, p. 58, note, objects that Vasari's
"giubone di raso inargentato" is not the superbly luminous steel-grey
sleeve of this "Ariosto," but surely a vest of satin embroidered with
silver. I think we need not examine Vasari's casual descriptions quite
so closely; "a doublet of silvered satin wherein the stitches could be
counted" is fairly accurate. "Quilted sleeves" would no doubt be the
 It is not quite clear whether the single letter is F or T.
 A curious fact, which corroborates my view, is that the four old
copies which exist are all ascribed to Giorgione (at Vicenza, Brescia,
and two lately in English collections). See Crowe and Cavalcaselle, p.
 Gronau: _Tizian_, p. 21.
 See, however, note on p. 133.
 _La Galleria Crespi_.
 The documents quoted by Signor Venturi show the signature was there
 When in the Martinengo Gallery at Brescia (1640) it bore this name.
See Venturi, _op. cit_., and Crowe and Cavalcaselle, _Titian_, ii. 58.
 From _Das Museum_, No. 79. "_Unbekannter Meister um_ 1500. _Bildnis
der Caterina Cornaro_." I am informed the original is now in the
possession of the German Ambassador at The Hague, and that a plaster
cast is at Berlin.
 Dr. Bode _(Jahrbuch_, 1883, p. 144) says that Count Pourtales
acquired this bust at Asolo.
 _Gazette des Beaux Arts_, 1897, pp. 278-9. Since (1901)
republished in his _Study and Criticism of Italian Art_, vol. i. p. 85.
 Titian's posthumous portrait of Caterina is lost. The best known
copy is in the Uffizi. Crowe and Cavalcaselle long ago pointed out the
absurdity of regarding this fancy portrait as a true likeness of the
long deceased queen. It bears no resemblance whatever to the Buda-Pesth
portrait, which is the latest of the group.
 _Cicerone_, sixth edition.
 _Gazette des Beaux Arts_, 1897, pp. 278-9.
 _Venetian Painting at the New Gallery_, 1895, p. 41.
 _Titian_, ii. 58.
 _Gazette des Beaux Arts, loc cit_.
 _Life of Giorgione_. The letters T.V. either were added after
1544, or Vasari did not interpret them as Titian's signature.
 _La Galleria Crespi, op. cit_.
 The importance of this portrait in the history of the Renaissance
is discussed, _postea_, p. 113.
 ii. 19.
 This picture was transferred in 1857 from panel to canvas, but is
otherwise in fine condition.
 Morelli, ii. 19, note.
 Crowe and Cavalcaselle: _Titian_, p. 425.
 _Gazette des Beaux Arts_, 1893, p. 135.
 It is customary to cite the Prague picture of 1525 as his work.
The clumsy signature CAM was probably intended for Campi, the real
author, and its genuineness is not above suspicion. It is a curious
_quid pro quo_.
ADDITIONAL PICTURES OTHER THAN PORTRAITS
I have now pointed out six portraits which, in my opinion, should be
included in the roll of genuine Giorgiones. No doubt others will, in
time, be identified, but I leave this fascinating quest to pass to the
consideration of other paintings illustrating a different phase of the
We know that the romantic vein in Giorgione was particularly strong,
that he naturally delighted in producing fanciful pictures where his
poetic imagination could find full play; we have seen how the classic
myth and the mediaeval romance afforded opportunities for him to indulge
his fancy, and we have found him adapting themes derived from these
sources to the decoration of _cassoni_, or marriage chests. Another
typical example of this practice is afforded by his "Orpheus and
Eurydice," in the gallery at Bergamo, a splendid little panel, probably,
like the "Apollo and Daphne" in the Seminario at Venice, intended as a
decorative piece of applied art. Although bearing Giorgione's name by
tradition, modern critics have passed it by presumably on the ground
that "it is not good enough,"--that fatal argument which has thrown dust
in the eyes of the learned. As if the artist would naturally expend as
much care on a trifle of this kind as on the Castelfranco altar-piece,
or the Dresden "Venus"! Yet what greater beauty of conception, what more
poetic fancy is there in the "Apollo and Daphne" (which is generally
accepted as genuine) than in this little "Orpheus and Eurydice"? Nay,
the execution, which is the point contested, appears to me every whit as
brilliant, and in preservation the latter piece has the advantage. Not a
touch but what can be paralleled in a dozen other works--the feathery
trees against the luminous sky, the glow of the horizon, the splendid
effects of light and shadow, the impressive grandeur of the wild
scenery, the small figures in mid-distance, even the cast of drapery and
shape of limbs are repeated elsewhere. Let anyone contrast the delicacy
and the glow of this little panel with several similar productions of
the Venetian school hanging in the same gallery, and the gulf that
separates Giorgione from his imitators will, I think, be apparent.
[Illustration: _Taramelli photo. Bergamo Gallery_ ORPHEUS AND EURYDICE]
In the same category must be ranked two very small panels in the Gallery
at Padua (Nos. 42 and 43), attributed with a query to Giorgione. These
are apparently fragments of some decorative series, of which the other
parts are missing. The one represents "Leda and the Swan," the other a
mythological subject, where a woman is seated holding a child, and a
man, also seated, holds flowers. The latter recalls one of the figures
in the National Gallery "Epiphany." The charm of these fragments lies in
the exquisite landscapes, which, in minuteness of finish and loving
care, Giorgione has nowhere surpassed. The gallery at Padua is thus, in
my opinion, the possessor of four genuine examples of Giorgione's skill
as a decorator, for we have already mentioned the larger _cassone_
pieces (Nos. 416 and 417).
Of greater importance is the "Unknown Subject," in the National Gallery
(No. 1173), a picture which, like so many others, has recently been
taken from Giorgione, its author, and vaguely put down to his "School."
But it is time to protest against such needless depreciation!
In spite of abrasion, in spite of the loss of glow, in spite of much
that disfigures, nay disguises, the master's own touch, I feel confident
that Giorgione and no other produced this beautiful picture. Surely
if this be only school work, we are vainly seeking a mythical master, an
ideal who never could have existed. What more dainty figures, what more
delicate hues, what more exquisite feeling could one look for than is
here to be found? True, the landscape has been renovated, true, the
Giorgionesque depth and richness is gone, the mellow glow of the
"Epiphany," which hangs just below, is sadly wanting, but who can deny
the charm of the picturesque scenery, which vividly recalls the
landscape backgrounds elsewhere in the master's own work, who can fail
to admire the natural and unstudied grouping of the figures, the
artlessness of the whole, the loving simplicity with which the painter
has done his work? All is spontaneous; the spirit is not that of a
laborious imitator, painfully seeking "effects" from another's
inspiration; sincerity and naivete are too apparent for this to be the
work of any but a quite young artist, and one whose style is so
thoroughly "Giorgionesque" as to be none other than the young Giorgione
himself. In my opinion this is one of his earliest essays into the
region of romance, painted probably before his twenty-first year,
betraying, like the little legendary pictures in the Uffizi, a strong
affinity with Carpaccio.
[Illustration: _Hanfstaengl photo. Na. nal Gallery, London_
? THE GOLDEN AGE]
As to the subject many conjectures have been made: Aristotle surrounded
by emblems illustrating the objects with which his philosophy was
concerned, an initiation into some mystic rite, the poet musing in
sadness on the mysteries of life, the philosopher imparting wisdom to
the young, etc. etc. I believe Giorgione is simply giving us a poetical
rendering of "The Golden Age," where, like Plato's philosopher-king, the
seer all-wise and all-powerful holds sway, before whom the arts and
sciences do homage; in this earthly paradise even strange animals live
in happy harmony, and all is peace. Such a theme would well have suited
Giorgione's temperament, and Ridolfi actually tells us that this very
subject was taken by Giorgione from the pages of Ovid, and adapted by
him to his own ends. But whether this represents "The Golden Age,"
or some other allegory or classic story, the picture is completely
characteristic of all that is most individual in Giorgione, and I
earnestly hope the slur now cast upon its character by the misleading
label will be speedily removed. For the public believes more in the
labels it reads, than the pictures it sees.
Finally, in the "Venus disarming Cupid," of the Wallace collection, we
have, in my opinion, the wreck of a once splendid Giorgione. In the
recent re-arrangement of the Gallery, this picture, which used to hang
in an upstairs room, and was practically unknown, has been hung
prominently on the line, so that its beauties, and, alas! its defects,
can be plainly seen. The outlines are often distorted and blurred, the
Cupid has become monstrous, the delicacy of the whole effaced by
ill-usage and neglect. Yet the splendour of colour, the cast of drapery,
the flow of line, proclaims the great master himself. There is no room,
moreover, for such a mythical compromise as that which is proposed by
the catalogue, "It stands midway in style between Giorgione and Titian
in his Giorgionesque phase." No better instance could be adduced of the
fallacy of perfection implied in the minds of most critics at the
mention of Giorgione's name; yet if we accept the Louvre "Concert," if
we accept the Hermitage "Judith," why dispute Giorgione's claim on the
ground of "weakness of construction"? This "Venus and Cupid" is vastly
inferior in quality to the Dresden "Venus,"--let us frankly admit
it,--but it is none the less characteristic of the artist, who must not
be judged by the standard of his exceptional creations, but by that of
his normal productions.
[Illustration: _Hanfstaengl photo. National Gallery, London_ VENUS AND
Just such another instance of average merit is afforded by the "Venus
and Adonis" of the National Gallery (No. 1123), from which, had not an
artificial standard of excellence been falsely raised, Giorgione's name
would never have been removed. I am happily not the first to call
attention to the propriety of the old attribution, for Sir Edward
Poynter claims that the same hand that produced the Louvre "Concert" is
also responsible for the "Venus and Adonis." I fully share this
opinion. The figures, with their compactly built and rounded limbs, are
such as Giorgione loved to model, the sweep of draperies and the
splendid line indicate a consummate master, the idyllic landscape
framing episodes from the life of Adonis is just such as we see in the
Louvre picture and elsewhere, the glow and splendour of the whole reveal
a master of tone and colouring. Some good judges would give the work to
the young Titian, but it appears too intimately "Giorgionesque" to be
his, although I admit the extreme difficulty in drawing the line of
division. Passages in the "Sacred and Profane Love" of the Borghese
Gallery are curiously recalled, but the National Gallery picture is
clearly the work of a mature and experienced hand, and not of any young
artist. In my opinion it dates from about 1508, and illustrates the
later phase of Giorgione's art as admirably as do the "Epiphany" (No.
1160) and the "Golden Age" (No. 1173) his earliest style. Between these
extremes fall the "Portrait" (No. 636), and the "S. Liberale" (No. 269),
the National Gallery thus affording unrivalled opportunity for studying
the varying phases of the great Venetian master at different stages of
* * * * *
We may now pass from the realm of "fancy" subjects to that of sacred
art--that is, to the consideration of the "Madonnas," "Holy Families,"
and "Santa Conversazione" pictures, other than those already described.
The Beaumont "Adoration of the Shepherds," with its variant at Vienna,
the National Gallery "Epiphany," the Madrid "Madonna with S. Anthony and
S. Roch," and the Castelfranco altar-piece are the only instances so far
of Giorgione's sacred art, yet Vasari tells us that the master "in his
youth painted very many beautiful pictures of the Virgin."
This statement is on the face of it likely enough, for although the
young Castelfrancan early showed his independence of tradition and his
preference for the more modern phases of Bellini's art, it is extremely
probable he was also called upon to paint some smaller devotional
pieces, such, for instance, as "The Christ bearing the Cross," lately in
the Casa Loschi at Vicenza. It is noteworthy, all the same, that
scarcely any "Madonna" picture exists to which his name still attaches,
and only one "Holy Family," so far as I am aware, is credibly reputed to
be his work. This is Mr. Benson's little picture, in all respects a
worthy companion to the Beaumont and National Gallery examples. There is
even a purer ring about this lovely little "Holy Family," a child-like
sincerity and a simplicity which is very touching, while for sheer
beauty of colour it is more enjoyable than either of the others. It may
not have the depth of tone and mastery of chiaroscuro which make the
Beaumont "Adoration" so subtly attractive, but in tenderness of feeling
and daintiness of treatment it is not surpassed by any other of
Giorgione's works. In its obvious defects, too, it is as thoroughly
characteristic; it is needless to repeat here what I said when
discussing the Beaumont and Vienna "Adoration"; the reader who compares
the reproductions will readily see the same features in both works. Mr.
Benson's little picture has this additional interest, that more than
either of its companion pieces it points forward to the Castelfranco
"Madonna" in the bold sweep of the draperies, the play of light on
horizontal surfaces, and the exquisite gaiety of its colour.
[Illustration: _Hanfstaengl photo. Vienna Gallery_ THE "GIPSY" MADONNA]
In claiming this picture for Giorgione I am claiming nothing new, for
his name, in spite of modern critics, has here persistently survived.
Not so with a group of three Madonnas, one of which has for at least two
centuries borne Titian's name, another which passes also for a work of
the same painter, whilst the third was claimed by Crowe and
Cavalcaselle again for Titian, partly on the analogy of the
first-mentioned one. The first is the so-called "Gipsy Madonna" in
the Vienna Gallery, the second is a "Madonna" in the Bergamo Gallery,
and the third is a "Madonna" again in Mr. Benson's collection.
I am happily not the first to identify the "Gipsy Madonna" as
Giorgione's work, for it requires no little courage to tilt at what has
been unquestioningly accepted as "the earliest known Madonna of Titian."
I am indebted, therefore, to Signor Venturi for the lead, although
I have the satisfaction of feeling that independent study of my own had
already brought me to the same conclusion.
Of course, all modern writers have recognised the "Giorgionesque"
elements in this supposed Titian. "In the depth, strength, and richness
of the colour-chord, in the atmospheric spaciousness and charm of the
landscape background, in the breadth of the draperies, it is already,"
says Mr. Claude Phillips, "Giorgionesque." Yet, he goes on, the
Child is unlike Giorgione's type in the Castelfranco and Madrid
pictures, and the Virgin has a less spiritualised nature than
Giorgione's Madonnas in the same two pictures. On the other hand, Dr.
Gronau, Titian's latest biographer, declares that the thoughtful
expression ("der tief empfundene Ausdruck") of the Madonna is
essentially Giorgionesque. Morelli, with peculiar insight, protested
against its being considered a very _early_ work of Titian, basing his
protest on the advanced nature of the landscape, which, he says,
"must have been painted six or eight years later than the end of the
fifteenth century." But even he fell into line with Crowe and
Cavalcaselle in ascribing the picture to Titian, failing to see that all
difficulties of chronology and discrepancies of judgment between himself
and the older historians could be reconciled on the hypothesis of
Giorgione's authorship. For Giorgione, as Morelli rightly saw, developed
far more rapidly than Titian, so that a Titian landscape of, say, 1506-8
(if any such exist!) would correspond with one by Giorgione of, say,
1500. I agree with Crowe and Cavalcaselle and those writers who date
back the "Gipsy Madonna" to the end of the fifteenth century, but I must
emphatically support Signor Venturi in his claim that Giorgione is the
Before, however, looking at internal evidence to prove this contention,
we may note that another example of the same composition exists in the
Gallery of Rovigo, identical save for a cartellino on which is inscribed
TITIANVS. To Crowe and Cavalcaselle this was evidence to confirm
Titian's claim to be the painter of what they considered the original
work--viz. the Vienna picture, of which the Rovigo example was, in their
opinion, a later copy. A careful examination, however, of the latter
picture has convinced me that they were curiously right and curiously
wrong. That the Rovigo work is posterior to the Vienna one is, I think,
patent to anyone conversant with Venetian painting, but why should the
one bear Titian's name on an apparently authentic cartellino, and not
the other? The simple and straightforward explanation appears the
best--viz. that the Rovigo picture is actually by Titian, who has taken
the Vienna picture (which I attribute to Giorgione) as his model and
directly repeated it. The qualities of the work are admirable, and
worthy of Titian, and I venture to think this "Madonna" would long ago
have taken its rightful place among the pictures of the master had it
not hung in a remote provincial gallery little visited by travellers,
and in such a dark corner as to escape detection. The form TITIANVS
points to a period after 1520, when Giorgione had been some years
dead, so that it was not unnatural that in after times the credit of
invention rested with the author of the signed picture, and that his
name came gradually to be attached also to the earlier example. The
engraving of Meyssen (_circa_ 1640) thus bears Titian's name, and both
engraving and the repetition at Rovigo are now adduced as evidence of
Titian's authorship of the Vienna "Gipsy Madonna."
But is there any proof that Titian ever copied or repeated any other
work of Giorgione? There is, fortunately, one great and acknowledged
precedent, the "Venus" in the Tribune of the Uffizi, which is _directly_
taken from Giorgione's Dresden "Venus," The accessories, it is true, are
different, but the nude figures are line for line identical. Other
painters, Palma, Cariarli, and Titian, elsewhere, derived inspiration
from Giorgione's prototype, but Titian actually repeats the very figure
in this "Venus"; so that there is nothing improbable in my contention
that Titian also repeated Giorgione's "Gipsy Madonna," adding his
signature thereto, to the confusion and confounding of later
[Illustration: _Dixon photo. Collection of Mr. R.H. Benson, London_
MADONNA AND CHILD]
It is worthy of note that not a single "Madonna and Child" by Titian
exists, except the little picture in Mr. Mond's collection, painted
quite in the artist's old age. Titian invariably paints "Madonna and
Saints," or a "Holy Family," so that the three Madonna pictures I am
claiming for Giorgione are marked off by this peculiarity from the bulk
of Titian's work. This in itself is not enough to disqualify Titian, but
it is a factor in that cumulative proof by which I hope Giorgione's
claim may be sustained. The marble parapet again is a feature in
Giorgione's work, but not in Titian's. But the most convincing evidence
to those who know the master lies in the composition, which forms an
almost equilateral triangle, revealing Giorgione's supreme sense of
beauty in line. The splendid curves made by the drapery, the pose of the
Child, so as to obtain the same unbroken sweep of line, reveals the
painter of the Dresden "Venus." The painting of the Child's hand over
the Madonna's is precisely as in the Madrid picture, where, moreover,
the pose of the Child is singularly alike. The folds of drapery on the
sleeve recur in the same picture, the landscape with the small figure
seated beneath the tree is such as can be found in any Giorgione
background. The oval of the face and the delicacy of the features are
thoroughly characteristic, as is the spirit of calm reverie and tender
simplicity which Giorgione has breathed into his figures.
The second and third Madonna pictures--viz. the one at Bergamo, and its
counterpart in Mr. Benson's collection--appear to be somewhat later in
date of execution, but reveal many points in common with the "Gipsy
Madonna." The beauty of line is here equally conspicuous; the way the
drapery is carried out beyond the elbow so as to form one long unbroken
curve, the triangular composition, the marble parapet, are so many
proofs of Giorgione's hand. Moreover, we find in Mr. Benson's picture
the characteristic tree-trunks, so suggestive of solemn grandeur,
and the striped scarf, so cunningly disposed to give more flowing
line and break the stiffness of contour.
The Bergamo picture closely resembles Mr. Benson's "Madonna," from
which, indeed, it varies chiefly in the pose of the Child (whose left
leg here sticks straight out), whilst the landscape is seen on the left
side, and there are no tree-trunks. I cannot find that any writer has
made allusion to this little gem, which hangs high up on the end wall of
the Lochis section of the gallery (No. 232); I hope others will examine
this new-found work at a less inconvenient height, as I have done, and
that their opinion will coincide with mine that the same hand painted
the Benson "Madonna," and that that hand is Giorgione's.
Before quitting the subject of the "Madonna and Child," another example
may be alluded to, about which it would be unwise to express any decided
opinion founded only on a study of the photograph. This is a picture at
St. Petersburg, to which Mr. Claude Phillips first directed
attention, stating his then belief that it might be a genuine
Giorgione. After a recent visit to St. Petersburg, however, he has seen
fit to register it as a probable copy after a lost original by the
master, on the ground that "it is not fine enough in execution."
This, as I have often pointed out, is a dangerous test to apply in
Giorgione's case, and so the authenticity of this "Madonna" may still be
left an open question.
Finally, in the category of Sacred Art come two well-known pictures,
both in public galleries, and both accredited to Giorgione. The first is
the "Christ and the Adulteress" of the Glasgow Gallery, the second the
"Madonna and Saints" of the Louvre. Many diverse opinions are held about
the Glasgow picture; some ascribe it to Cariani, others to Campagnola.
It is asserted by some that the same hand painted the Kingston Lacy
"Judgment of Solomon," but that it is not the hand of Giorgione, and
finally--to come to the view which I believe is the correct one--Dr.
Bode and Sir Walter Armstrong both believe that Giorgione is the
[Illustration: _Hanfstaengl photo. Glasgow Gallery_ THE ADULTERESS
The whole difficulty, as it seems to me, arises from the deep-rooted
misapprehension in the minds of most critics of the character of
Giorgione's art. In their eyes, he is something so perfect as to be
incapable of producing anything short of the ideal. He could never have
drawn so badly, he never could have composed so awkwardly, he never
could have been so inexpressive!--such is the usual criticism. I have
elsewhere insisted upon the unevenness which invariably characterises
the productions of men who are gifted with a strong artistic
temperament, and in Giorgione's case, as I believe, this is particularly
true. The Glasgow picture is but one instance of many where, if
correctness of drawing, perfection of composition, and inevitableness of
expression are taken as final tests, the verdict must go against the
painter. He either failed in these cases to come up to the standard
reached elsewhere, or he is not the painter. Modern negative criticism
generally adopts the latter solution, with the result that not a score
of pictures pass muster, and the virtues of these chosen few are so
extolled as to make it all but impossible to see the reverse of the
medal. But those who accept the "Judith" at St. Petersburg, the Louvre
"Concert," the Beaumont "Adoration of the Shepherds" (to name only three
examples where the drawing is strange), cannot consistently object to
admit the Glasgow "Christ and the Adulteress" into the fold. Nay, if
gorgeousness of colour, splendour of glow, mastery of chiaroscuro, and
brilliancy of technique are qualities which go to make up great
painting, then the Glasgow picture must take high rank, even in a school
where such qualities found their grandest expression.
[Illustration: _The Louvre, Paris_
MADONNA AND SAINTS]
Comparisons of detail may be noted, such as the resemblance in posture
and type of the Accuser with the S. Roch of the Madrid picture, the
figure of the Adulteress with that of the False Mother in the Kingston
Lacy picture, the pointing forefingers, the typical landscape, the cast
of the draperies, details which the reader can find often repeated
elsewhere. But it is in the treatment of the subject that the most
characteristic features are revealed. The artist was required--we know
not why--to paint this dramatic scene; he had to produce a "set piece,"
where action and graphic representation was urgently needed. How little
to his taste! How uncongenial the task! The case is exactly paralleled
by the "Judgment of Solomon," the only other dramatic episode Giorgione
appears to have attempted, and the result in each case is the same--no
real dramatic unity, but an accidental arrangement of the figures, with
rhetorical action. The want of repose in the Christ offends, the
stageyness of the whole repels. How different when Giorgione worked _con
amore_! For it seems this composition gave him much trouble. Of this we
have a most interesting proof in an almost contemporary Venetian version
of the same subject, where the scheme has been recast. This picture
belongs to Sir Charles Turner, in London, and, so far as
intelligibleness of composition goes, may be said to be an improvement
on the Glasgow version. It is highly probable that this painting derives
from some alternative drawing for the original picture. That the Glasgow
version acquired some celebrity we have further proof in an almost exact
copy (with one more figure added on the right), which hangs in the
Bergamo Gallery under Cariani's name, a painting which, in all respects,
is utterly inferior to the original.
The "Christ and the Adulteress," then, becomes for us a revelation of
the painter's nature, of his methods and aims; but, with all its
technical excellences, shall we not also frankly recognise the
limitations of his art?
The "Madonna and Saints" of the Louvre, which persistently bears
Giorgione's name, in spite of modern negative criticism, is marked by a
lurid splendour of colour and a certain rough grandeur of expression,
well calculated to jar with any preconceived notion of Giorgionesque
sobriety or reserve. Yet here, if anywhere, we get that _fuoco
Giorgionesco_ of which Vasari speaks, that intensity of feeling,
rendered with a vivacity and power to which the artist could only have
attained in his latest days. In this splendid group there is a masculine
energy, a fulness of life, and a grandeur of representation which
carries _le grand style_ to its furthest limits, and if Giorgione
actually completed the picture before his death, he anticipated the full
splendour of the riper Renaissance. To him is certainly due the general
composition, with its superb lines, its beautiful curves, its majestic
and dignified postures, its charming sunset background, to him is
certainly due the splendid chiaroscuro and magic colour-chord; but it
becomes a question whether some of the detail was not actually finished
by Giorgione's pupil, Sebastiano del Piombo. The drawing, for
instance, of the hands vividly suggests his help, the type of S. Joseph
in the background reminds us of the figure of S. Chrysostom in
Sebastiano's Venice altar-piece, while the S. Catherine recalls the
Angel in Sebastiano's "Holy Family" at Naples. If this be the case, we
here have another instance of the pupil finishing his master's work, and
this time probably after his death, for, as already pointed out, the
"Evander and Aeneas" (at Vienna) must have been left by Giorgione
well-nigh complete at an earlier stage than the year of his death.
That Sebastiano stood in close relation to his master, Giorgione, is
evidenced not only by Vasari's statement, but by the obvious dependence
of the S. Giovanni Crisostomo altar-piece at Venice on Giorgionesque
models. Moreover, the "Violin Player," formerly in the Sciarra Palace,
at once reminds us of the "Barberigo" portrait at Cobham, while the
"Herodias with the Head of John Baptist," dated 1510, now in the
collection of Mr. George Salting, shows conclusively how closely related
were the two painters in the last year of Giorgione's life. Sebastiano
was twenty-five years of age in 1510, and appears to have worked under
Giorgione for some time before removing to Rome, which he did on, or
shortly before, his master's death. His departure left Titian, his
associate under Giorgione, master of the field; he, too, had a hand in
finishing some of the work left incomplete in the atelier, and his
privilege it became to continue the Giorgionesque tradition, and to
realise in utmost perfection in after years the aspirations and ideals
so brilliantly anticipated by the young genius of Castelfranco.
 The Doges Agostino Barberigo, and Leonardo Loredano, Consalvo of
Cordova, Giovanni Borgherini and his tutor, Luigi Crasso, and others,
are mentioned as having sat to Giorgione for their portraits. Modern
criticism has recently distributed several "Giorgionesque" portraits in
English collections among Licinio, Lotto, and even Polidoro! But this
disintegrating process may be, and has been, carried too far.
 Two more small works may be mentioned which may tentatively be
ascribed to Giorgione. "The Two Musicians," in the Glasgow Gallery
(recently transferred to Campagnola), and a "Sta. Justina" (known to me
only from a photograph), which has passed lately into the collection of
Herr von Kauffmann at Berlin.
Signor Venturi (_L'Arte_, 1900) has just acquired for the National
Gallery in Rome a "St. George slaying the Dragon." Judging only from the
photograph, I should say he is correct in his identification of this as
Giorgione's work. It seems to be akin to the "Apollo and Daphne," and
"Orpheus and Eurydice."
 I am pleased to find Signor Venturi has anticipated my own
conclusion in his recently published _La Galleria Crespi_.
 Mr. Cosmo Monkhouse (_In the National Gallery_, p. 223) has
already rightly recognised the same hand in this picture and in the
"Epiphany" hanging just below.
 Meravig, i. 124.
 By a happy accident the new "Giorgione" label, intended for the
"Epiphany," No. 1160, was for some time affixed to No. 1173.
 When in the Orleans Gallery the picture was engraved under
Giorgione's name by de Longueil and Halbon.
 New illustrated edition of the National Gallery Catalogue, 1900.
 Now in America, in Mrs. Gardner's Collection.
 Crowe and Cavalcaselle: _Titian_, i. p. III. This picture was then
at Burleigh House.
 See _La Galleria Crespi_, 1900.
 _The Earlier Work of Titian_ p. 24. _Portfolio_, October 1897.
 _Tizian_, p. 16.
 Morelli, ii. 57, note.
 See _antea_, p. 71.
 With the exception of the right arm, which Titian has let fall,
instead placing it behind the head of the sleeping goddess. The effect
of the beautiful curve is thereby lost, and Titian shows himself
Giorgione's inferior in quality of line.
 As in the "Aeneas and Evander" (Vienna), the "Judith" (St.
Petersburg), the Madrid "Madonna and Saints," etc.
 As in the "Caterina Cornare" of the Crespi collection at Milan.
 _Magazine of Art_. July 1895.
 _North American Review_. October 1899.
 _Magazine of Art_, 1890, pp. 91 and 138.
 The small divergencies of detail in the dress of the "Adulteress,"
etc., are just such as an imitator might have ventured to make. The hand
and arm of the Christ have, however, been altered for the better.
 This is the first time in Venetian art that the subject appears.
It is frequently found later.
 Cariani is by some made responsible for the whole picture. A
comparison with an authentic example hanging (in the new arrangement of
the Long Gallery), close by, ought surely to convince the advocates of
Cariani of their mistake.
 Morto da Feltre is mentioned by Vasari as having assisted
Giorgione in the decoration of the Fondaco de' Tedeschi. This was in
1508. Otherwise, we know of no pupils or assistants employed by the
master, a fact which goes to show that his influence was felt, not so
much through any personal teaching, as through his work.
GIORGIONE'S ART, AND PLACE IN HISTORY
The examination in detail of all those pictures best entitled, on
internal evidence, to rank as genuine productions of Giorgione has
incidentally revealed to us much that is characteristic of the man
himself. We started with the axiom that a man's work is his best
autobiography, and where, as in Giorgione's case, so little historical
or documentary record exists, such indications of character as may be
gleaned from a study of his life's work become of the utmost value. _Le
style c'est l'homme_ is a saying eminently applicable in cases where, as
with Giorgione, the personal element is strongly marked. The subject, as
we have seen over and over again, is so highly charged with the artist's
mood, with his individual feelings and emotions, that it becomes
unrecognisable as mere illustration, and the work passes by virtue of
sheer inspiration into the higher realms of creative art. Such fusion of
personality and subject is the characteristic of lyrical art, and in
this domain Giorgione is a supreme master. His genius, as Morelli
rightly pointed out, is essentially lyrical in contradistinction to
Titian's, which is essentially dramatic. Take the epithets that we have
constantly applied to his pictures in the course of our survey, and see
how they bear out this statement--epithets such as romantic, fantastic,
picturesque, gay, or again, delicate, refined, sensitive, serene, and
the like; these bear witness to qualities of mind where the keynote is
invariably exquisite feeling. Giorgione was, in fact, what is commonly
called a poet-painter, gifted with the artistic temperament to an
extraordinary degree, essentially impulsive, a man of moods. It is
inevitable that such a man produces work of varying merit; inequality
must be a characteristic feature of his art. In less fortunate
circumstances than those in which Giorgione was placed, such
temperaments as his become peevish, morose, morbid; but his lines were
cast in pleasant places, and his moods were healthy, joyous, and serene.
He does not concern himself with the tragedy of life, with its pathos or
its disappointments. In his two renderings of "Christ bearing the
Cross"--the only instances we have of his portrayal of the Man of
Sorrows--he appeals more to our sense of the dignity of humanity, and to
the nobility of the Christ, than to our tenderer sympathies. How
different from the pathetic Pietas of his master, Giambellini! This
shrinking from pain and sorrow, this dislike to the representation of
suffering is, however, as much due to the natural gaiety and elasticity
of youth as to the happy accident of his surroundings. We must never
forget that Giorgione's whole achievement was over at an age when some
men's life-work has hardly begun. The eighteen years of his activity
were what we sometimes call the years of promise, and he must not be
judged as we judge a Titian or a Michel Angelo. He is the wonderful
youth, full of joyous aspirations, gilding all he touches with the
radiance of his spirit. His pictures, suffused with a golden glow, are
the reflection of his sunny life; the vividness and intensity of his
passion are expressed in the gorgeousness of his colours.
I have elsewhere dwelt upon the precocity of Giorgione's talent, with
its accompanying qualities of versatility, inequality, and
productiveness, and I have pointed out the analogous phenomena in music
and poetry. Giorgione, Schubert, and Keats are alike in temperament and
quality of expression. They are curiously alike in the shortness of
their lives, and the fever-heat of their production. But they are
strangely distinct in the manner of their lives. The disparity of
outward circumstances accounts for the healthy tone of Giorgione's art,
when contrasted with the morbid utterances of Keats. Schubert suffered
privations and poverty, and his song was wrung from him alike at moments
of inspiration and of necessity. But Giorgione is all aglow with natural
energy; he suffered no restraints, nor is his art forced or morbid.
Confine his spirit, check the play of his fancy, set him a task
prescribed by convention or hampered by conditions, and you get proof of
the fretfulness, the impatience of restraint which the artist felt. The
"Judgment of Solomon" and "The Adulteress before Christ," the only two
"set" pieces he ever attempted, eloquently show how he fell short when
struggling athwart his genius. For to register a fact was utterly
foreign to his nature; he records an impression, frankly surrendering
his spirit to the sense of joy and beauty. He is not seldom incoherent,
and may even grow careless, but in power of imagination and exuberance
of fancy he is always supreme.
In one respect, however, Giorgione shows himself a greater than Schubert
or Keats. He has a profounder insight into human nature in its varying
aspects than either the musician or the poet. He is less a visionary,
because his experience of men and things is greater than theirs; his
outlook is wider, he is less self-centred. This power of grasping
objective truth naturally shows itself most readily in the portraits he
painted, and it was due to the force of circumstances, as I believe,
that this faculty was trained and developed. Had Giorgione lived aloof
from the world, had not his natural reticence and sensitiveness been
dominated by outside influences, he might have remained all his life
dreaming dreams, and seeing visions, a lyric poet indeed, but not a
great and living, influence in his generation. Yet such undoubtedly he
was, for he effected nothing short of a revolution in the contemporary
art of Venice. Can the same be said of Schubert or Keats? The truth is
that Giorgione had opportunities of studying human nature such as the
others never enjoyed; fortune smiled upon him in his earliest years, and
he found himself thrust into the society of the great, who were eager to
sit to him for their portraits. How the young Castelfrancan first
achieved such distinction is not told us by the historians, but I have
ventured to connect his start in life with the presence of the ex-Queen
of Cyprus, Caterina Cornaro, at Asolo, near Castelfranco; I think it
more than probable that her patronage and recommendation launched the
young painter on his successful career in Venice. Certain it is that he
painted her portrait in his earlier days, and if, as I have sought to
prove, Signor Crespi's picture is the long-lost portrait of the great
lady, we may well understand the instant success such an achievement
Here, if anywhere, we get Giorgione's great interpretative qualities,
his penetration into human nature, his reading of character. It is an
astonishing thing for one so young to have done, explicable
psychologically on the existence of a lively sympathy between the great
lady and the poet-painter. Had we other portraits of the fair sex by
Giorgione, I venture to think we should find in them his reading of the
human soul even more plainly evidenced than in the male portraits we
actually possess. For it is clear that the artist was
"impressionable," and he would have given us more sympathetic
interpretations of the fair sex than those which Titian has left us. The
so-called "Portrait of the Physician Parma" (at Vienna) is another
instance of Giorgione's grasp of character, the virility and suppressed
energy being admirably seized, the conception approaching more nearly to
Titian's in its essential dignity than is usually the case with
Giorgione's portraits. It is a matter of more regret, therefore, that
the likenesses of the Doges Agostino Barberigo and Leonardo Loredano are
missing, for in them we might have had specimens of work comparable to
the Caterina Cornaro, which, in my opinion at all events, is Giorgione's
masterpiece of portraiture.
I have given reasons elsewhere for dating this portrait at latest 1500.
It is probably anterior by a few years to the close of the century. This
deduction, if correct, has far-reaching consequences: it becomes
actually the first _modern_ portrait ever painted, for it is the
earliest instance of a portrait instinct with the newer life of the
Renaissance. And this brings us to the question: What was Giorgione's
relation to that great awakening of the human spirit which we call the
Renaissance? Mr. Berenson answers the question thus: "His pictures are
the perfect reflex of the Renaissance at its height." If this be
taken to mean that Giorgione _anticipated_ the aspirations and ideals of
the riper Renaissance, I think we may acquiesce in the phrase; but that
the onward movement of this great revival coincided only with the
artist's years, and culminated at his death, is not historically
correct. The wave had not reached its highest point by the year 1510,
and Titian was yet to rise to a fuller and grander expression of the
human soul. But Giorgione may rightly be called the Herald of the
Renaissance, not only by virtue of the position he holds in Venetian
painting, but by priority of appearance on the wider horizon of Italian
Let us take the four great representative exponents of Italian Art at
its best, Raphael, Correggio, Leonardo, and Michel Angelo.
Chronologically, Giorgione precedes Raphael and Correggio, though
Leonardo and Michel Angelo were born before him. But had either of
the latter proclaimed a new order of things as early as 1495? Michel
Angelo was just twenty years old, and he had not yet carved his "Pieta"
for S. Peter's. Leonardo, a man of forty-three, had not completed his
"Cenacolo," and the "Mona Lisa" would not be created for another five or
six years. Giorgione's "Caterina Cornaro," therefore, becomes the first
masterpiece of the earlier Renaissance, and proclaims a revolution in
the history of portraiture. In Venice itself we have only to look at the
contemporary portraits by Alvise Vivarini and Gentile Bellini, and at
the slightly earlier busts by Antonello da Messina, to see what a world
of difference in feeling and interpretation there is between them and
Giorgione's portraits. What a splendid array of artistic triumphs must
have sprung up around this masterpiece! The Cobham portrait and the
National Gallery "Poet" are alone left us in much of their pristine
splendour, but what of the lost portraits of the great Consalvo and of
the Doge Agostino Barberigo, both of which must date from the year 1500?
Giorgione is then the Herald of the Renaissance, and never did genius
arise in more fitting season. It was the right psychological moment for
such a man, and Giorgione "painted pictures so perfectly in touch with
the ripened spirit of the Renaissance that they met with the success
which those things only find that at the same moment wake us to the
full sense of a need and satisfy it." This is the secret of his
overwhelming influence on succeeding painters in Venice,--not, indeed,
on his direct pupil Sebastiano del Piombo, and on his friend and
associate Titian (who may fairly be called his pupil), but on such
different natures as Lotto, Palma, Bonifazio, Bordone, Pordenone,
Cariani, Romanino, Dosso Dossi, and a host of smaller men. The School of
Giorgione numbers far more adherents than even the School of Leonardo,
or the School of Raphael, not because of any direct teaching of the
master, but because the "Giorgionesque" spirit was abroad, and the taste
of the day required paintings like Giorgione's to satisfy it. But as no
revolution can be effected without a struggle, and as there are
invariably people opposed to any reform, whether in art or in anything
else, we need not be surprised to find the academic faction, represented
by the aged Giambellini and his pupils, resisting the progress of the
Newer Art. In Giorgione's own lifetime, the exact measure of the
opposition is not easy to gauge, but it bore fruit a few years later in
the machinations of the official Bellinesque party to keep Titian out of
the Ducal Palace when he was seeking State recognition,
Nevertheless, Giambellini, even at his age, found it advisable to
modulate into the newer key, as may be seen in his "S. Giovanni
Crisostomo enthroned," where not only is the conception lyrical and the
treatment romantic, but the actual composition is on the lines of the
essentially Giorgionesque equilateral triangle. This great altar-piece
was painted three years after Giorgione's death, and no more splendid
testimonial to the young painter's genius could be found than in the
forced homage thus paid to his memory by the octogenarian
We have already, in the course of our survey of Giorgione's pictures,
noted the points wherein he was an initiator. "Genre subjects," and
"Landscape with figures," as we should say nowadays, found in him their
earliest exponent. Before him artists had, indeed, painted figures with
a landscape background, but the perfect blend of Nature and human nature
was his achievement. This was accomplished by artistic means of the
simplest, yet irresistibly subtle in their appeal. The quality of line
and the sensuousness of colour nowhere cast their spells over us more
strangely than in Giorgione's pictures, and by these means he wrought
"effects" such as no artist has surpassed. In these purely pictorial
qualities he is supreme, and claims place with the few quintessential
artists of the world; to him may be applied by analogy the phrase that
Liszt applied to Schubert, "Le musicien le plus poete que jamais."
As an instrument of expression, then, colour is used by Giorgione more
naturally and effectively than it is by any of the Venetian painters. It
appeals directly to our senses, like rare old stained glass, and seems
to be of the very essence of the object itself. An engraving or
photograph after such a picture as the Louvre "Pastoral Symphony" fails
utterly to convey the sense of exhilaration one feels in presence of
the actual painting, simply because the tonic effect of the colour is
wholly wanting. The golden shimmer of light, the vibration of the air,
the saturation of atmosphere with pure colour are not only ingredients
in, but are of the very essence of the creation. It has been well said
that almost literally the chief colour on Giorgione's palette was
sunlight. His masterly treatment of light and shadow, in which he
was scarcely Leonardo's inferior, enabled him to make use of rich and
full-bodied colours, which are never gaudy, as sometimes with Bonifazio,
or pretty, as with Catena and lesser artists. Nor is he decorative in
the way that Veronese excels, or lurid like Tintoretto. Compared with
Titian it is as though his colour-chord sounded in seven sharps, whilst
the former strikes the key of C natural. A full rich green frequently
occurs, as in the Castelfranco "Madonna" and the Louvre picture, and a
deep crimson, contrasting with pure white drapery, or with golden
flesh-tints, is also characteristic. In the painting of the nude he
gives us real flesh and blood; his "Venus" has not the supernatural
radiance that Correggio can give his ethereal beings (Giorgione, by the
way, never painted an angel, so far as we know), but she glows with
actual life, the blood is pulsing through the veins, she is very real.
And in this connection we may notice the extraordinary skill with which
Giorgione conveys a sense of texture; his painting of rich brocades, and
more especially quilted stuffs and satiny folds, cannot be surpassed
even by a Terburg.
The quality of line in his work makes itself felt in many ways. Beauty
of contour and unbroken continuity of curve is obtained sometimes by
sacrificing literal accuracy; a structurally impossible position--as the
seated nude figure in the Louvre picture--is deliberately adopted to
heighten the effect of line or the balance of composition. The Dresden
"Venus," if she arose, would appear of strange proportions; but
expressiveness is enhanced by the long flowing contours of the body, so
suggestive of repose. We may notice also the emphasis obtained by
parallelism; for example, the line of the left arm of the "Venus"
follows the curve of the body, a trick which may be often seen in folds
of drapery. This picture also illustrates a device to retain continuity
of line; the right foot is hidden away so as not to interfere with the
contour. Exactly the same thing may be seen in the standing figure in
the Louvre "Pastoral Symphony." The trick of making a grand sweep from
the top of the head downwards is usually found in the Madonna pictures,
where a cunningly placed veil carries the line usually to the sloping
shoulders, or else outwards to the point of the elbow, thus introducing
the triangular scheme to which Giorgione was particularly partial.
But the question remains, What is Giorgione's position among the world's
great men? Is he intellectually to be ranked with the Great Thinkers of
all time? Can he aspire to the position which Titian occupies? I fear
not Beethoven is infinitely greater than Schubert, Shakespeare than
Keats, and so, though in lesser degree, is Titian than Giorgione. I say
in lesser degree, because the young poet-painter had something of that
profound insight into human nature, something of that wide outlook on
life, something of that universal sympathy, and something of that vast
influence which distinguishes the greatest intellects of all, and this
it is which lessens the distance between him and Titian. Yet Titian is
the greater man, for he is "the highest and completest expression of his
Nevertheless, in that narrower sphere of the great painters, who
proclaimed the glad tidings of Liberty when the Spirit of Man awoke from
Mediaevalism, may we not add yet a fifth voice to the four-part harmony
of Raphael, Correggio, Leonardo, and Michel Angelo, the voice of
Giorgione, the wondrous youth, "the George of Georges," who heralded the
Renaissance of which we are the heirs?
 In the Church of San Rocco, Venice, and in Mrs. Gardner's
Collection in America.
 Keats died at the age of twenty-five; Schubert was thirty-one;
 The ruined condition of the Borghese "Lady" prevents any just
appreciation of the interpretative qualities.
 _Venetian Painters_, p. 30.
 Leonardo, 1452-1519; Michel Angelo, 1475-1564; Giorgione,
1477-1510; Raphael, 1483-1520; Correggio, 1494-1534. Correggio, Raphael,
and Giorgione died at the ages of forty, thirty-seven, and thirty-three
years respectively. Those whom the gods love die young!
 Berenson: _Venetian Painters_, p. 29. I should prefer to
substitute "ripening" for "ripened."
 Fry: _Giovanni Bellini_, p. 44.
 In S. Giovanni Crisostomo, Venice. It dates from 1513.
 Mary Logan: _Guide to the Italian Pictures at Hampton Court_, p.
 Berenson: _Venetian Painters_, p. 48.
The following correspondence between Isabella d'Este, Marchioness of
Mantua, and her agent Albano in Venice, is reprinted from the _Archivio
Storico dell' Arte_, 1888, p. 47 (article by Sig. Alessandro Luzio):--
"Sp. Amice noster charissime; Intendemo che in le cose et heredita
de Zorzo da Castelfrancho pictore se ritrova una pictura de una
nocte, molto bella et singulare; quando cossi fusse,
desideraressimo haverla, pero vi pregamo che voliati essere cum
Lorenzo da Pavia et qualche altro che habbi judicio et designo, et
vedere se l'e cosa excellente, et trovando de si operiati il megio
del m'co m. Carlo Valerio, nostro compatre charissimo, et de chi
altro vi parera per apostar questa pictura per noi, intendendo il
precio et dandone aviso. Et quando vi paresse de concludere il
mercato, essendo cosa bona, per dubio non fusse levata da altri,
fati quel che ve parera: che ne rendemo certe fareti cum ogni
avantagio e fede et cum bona consulta. Ofteremone a vostri piaceri
"Mantua xxv. oct MDX."
The agent replies a few days later--
"Ill'ma et Exc'ma M'a mia obser'ma
"Ho inteso quanto mi scrive la Ex. V. per una sua de xxv. del
passatto, facendome intender haver inteso ritrovarsi in le cosse et
eredita del q. Zorzo de Castelfrancho una pictura de una notte,
molto bella et singulare; che essendo cossi si deba veder de
"A che rispondo a V. Ex. che ditto Zorzo mori piu di fanno da
peste, et per voler servir quella ho parlato cum alcuni mei amizi,
che havevano grandissime praticha cum lui, quali me affirmano non
esser in ditta heredita tal pictura. Ben e vero che ditto Zorzo ne
feze una a m. Thadeo Contarini, qual per la informatione ho autta
non e molto perfecta sichondo vorebe quela. Un'altra pictura de la
nocte feze ditto Zorzo a uno Victorio Becharo, qual per quanto
intendo e de meglior desegnio et meglio finitta che non e quella
del Contarini. Ma esso Becharo, al presente non si atrova in questa
terra, et sichondo m'e stato afirmatto ne l'una ne l'altra non sono
da vendere per pretio nesuno; pero che li hanno fatte fare per
volerle godere per loro; siche mi doglio non poter satisfar al
dexiderio de quella ecc.
"Venetijs viii Novembris 1510.
From this letter we learn definitely (1) that Giorgione died in
October-November 1510; (2) that he died of the plague.
I have pointed out in the text that the above description of the two
pictures "de una notte" corresponds with the actual Beaumont and Vienna
"Nativities," or "Adoration of the Shepherds," in which I recognise the
hand of Giorgione.
* * * * *
The following is the only existing document in Giorgione's own
handwriting. It was published by Molmenti in the _Bollettino delle
Arti_, anno ii. No. 2, and reprinted by Conti, p. 50:--
"El se dichiara per el presente come el clarissimo Messer Aluixe di
Sesti die a fare a mi Zorzon de Castelfrancho quatro quadri in
quadrato con le geste di Daniele in bona pictura su telle, et li
telleri sarano soministrati per dito m. Aluixe, il quale doveva
stabilir la spexa di detti quadri quando serano compidi et di sua
satisfatione entro il presente anno 1508.
"Io Zorzon de Castelfrancho di mia man scrissi la presente in
Venetia li 13 febrar 1508."
Whether or no Giorgione ever completed these four square canvases with
the story of Daniel is unknown. There is no trace of any such pictures
in modern times.
DID TITIAN LIVE TO BE NINETY-NINE YEARS OLD?
_Reprinted from the "Nineteenth Century" Jan_. 1902
There is something fascinating in the popular belief that Titian, the
greatest of all Venetian painters, reached the patriarchal age of
ninety-nine years, and was actively at work up to the day of his death.
The text-books love to tell us the story of the great unfinished "Pieta"
with its pathetic inscription:
Quod Titianus inchoatum reliquit
Palma reverenter absolvit
Deoq. dicavit opus;
and traveller, guide-book in hand, and moralist, philosophy in head,
alike muse upon a phenomenon so startlingly at variance with common
But, sentiment aside, is there any historical evidence that Titian ever
worked at his art in his hundredth year? that he even attained such a
venerable age? The answer is of wider consequence than the mere question
implies, for on the correct determination of Titian's own chronology
depends the history of the development of the entire Venetian school of
painting in the early years of the sixteenth century. I say _early_,
because it is the date of Titian's birth, and not that of his death,
which I shall endeavour to fix; the latter event is known beyond
possibility of doubt to have occurred in August 1576. The question,
therefore, to consider is, what justification, if any, is there for the
universal belief that Titian was born in 1476-7, just a hundred years
Anyone, I think, who has ever looked into the history of Titian's career
must have been struck by the fact that for the first thirty-five years
of his life (according to the usual chronology) there is absolutely no
documentary record relating to him, whether in the Venetian archives or
elsewhere. Not a single letter, not a single contract, not a single
mention of his name occurs from which we can so much as affirm his
existence before the year 1511.
On the 2nd of December in that year "Io tician di Cador Dpntore" gives a
receipt for money paid him on completion of some frescoes at Padua, and
from this date on there are frequent letters and documents in existence
right down to 1576, the year of his death. Is it not somewhat strange
that the first thirty-five years of his life (as is commonly believed)
should be a total blank so far as records go? The fact becomes the more
inexplicable when we find that during these early years some of his
finest work is alleged to have been executed, and he must--if we accept
the chronology of his biographers--have been well known to and highly
esteemed by his contemporaries. Moreover, it is not for want of
diligent search amongst the archives that nothing has been found, for
Italian and German students have alike sought, but in vain, to discover
any documentary evidence relating to his career before 1511.
The absence of any such trustworthy record has had its natural result.
Conjecture has run riot, and no two writers are agreed on the subject of
the nature and development of Titian's earlier art. This is the second
disquieting fact which any careful student has to face. Messrs. Crowe
and Cavalcaselle, Titian's most exhaustive biographers, have filled
up the first thirty-five years of his career in their own way, but their
chronology has found no favour with later writers, such as Mr. Claude
Phillips in England or Dr. Georg Gronau in Germany, both of
whom have arrived at independent conclusions. Morelli again had his
theories on the subject, and M. Lafenestre has his, and the
ordinary gallery catalogue is usually content to state inaccurate facts
without further ado.
Now, if all these conscientious writers arrive at results so widely
divergent, either their logic or their data must be wrong! One and all
assume that Titian lived into his hundredth year, and, therefore, was
born in 1476-7; and starting with this theory as a fact, they have tried
to fit in Vasari's account as best they can, and each has found a
different solution of the problem. There is only one way out of this
chaos of conjectures--we must see what is the evidence for the
"centenarian" tradition, and if it can be shown that Titian was really
born later than 1476-7, then the silence of all records about him during
an alleged period of thirty-five years will become at once more
intelligible, and we may be able to explain some of the other anomalies
which at present confront Titian's biographers.
I propose to take the evidence in strictly chronological order.
The oldest contemporary account of Titian's career is furnished by
Lodovico Dolce in his _L'Aretino, o dialogo della pittura_, which was
published at Venice in 1557. Dolce knew Titian personally, and wrote his
treatise just at the time when the painter was at the zenith of his
fame. He is our sole authority for certain incidents of Titian's early
career: it will be well, therefore, to quote in full the opening
paragraphs of his narrative:
"Being born at Cadore of honourable parents, he was sent when a child of
nine years old by his father to Venice to the house of his father's
brother ... in order that he might be put under some proper master to
study painting; his father having perceived in him even at that tender
age strong marks of genius towards the art.... His uncle directly
carried the child to the house of Sebastiano, father of the
_gentilissimo_ Valerio and of Francesco Zuccati (distinguished masters
of the art of mosaic, by them brought to that perfection in which we now
see the best pictures) to learn the principles of the art. From them he
was removed to Gentile Bellini, brother of Giovanni, but much inferior
to him, who at that time was at work with his brother in the Grand
Council-Chamber. But Titian, impelled by Nature to greater excellence
and perfection in his art, could not endure following the dry and
laboured manner of Gentile, but designed with boldness and expedition.
Whereupon Gentile told him he would make no progress in painting,
because he diverged so much from the old style. Thereupon Titian left
the stupid _(goffo)_ Gentile, and found means to attach himself to
Giovanni Bellini; but not perfectly pleased with his manner, he chose
Giorgio da Castel Franco. Titian then drawing and painting with
Giorgione, as he was called, became in a short time so accomplished in
art, that when Giorgione was painting the facade of the Fondaco de'
Tedeschi, or Exchange of the German Merchants, which looks towards the
Grand Canal, Titian was allotted the other side which faces the
market-place, being at the time scarcely twenty years old. Here he
represented a Judith of wonderful design and colour, so remarkable,
indeed, that when the work came to be uncovered, it was commonly thought
to be the work of Giorgione, and all the latter's friends congratulated
him as being by far the best thing he had produced. Whereupon Giorgione,
in great displeasure, replied that the work was from the hand of his
pupil, who showed already how he could surpass his master, and, what was
more, Giorgione shut himself up for some days at home, as if in despair,
seeing that a young man knew more that he did."
Fortunately, the exact date can be fixed when the frescoes on the
Fondaco de' Tedeschi were painted, for we have original records
preserved from which we learn the work was begun in 1507 and completed
towards the close of 1508. If Titian, then, was "scarcely twenty
years old" in 1507-8, he must have been born in 1488-9. Dolce
particularly emphasises his youthfulness at the time, calling him _un
giovanetto_, a phrase he twice applies to him in the next paragraph,
when he is describing the famous altar-piece of the 'Assunta,' the
commission for which, as we know from other sources, was given in 1516.
"Not long afterwards he was commissioned to paint a large picture for
the High Altar of the Church of the Frati Minori, where Titian, quite a
young man _(pur giovanetto)_, painted in oil the Virgin ascending to
Heaven.... This was the first public work which he painted in oil, and
he did it in a very short time, and while still a young man _(e
This phrase could hardly be applied to a man over thirty, so that
Titian's birth cannot reasonably be dated before 1486 or so, and is much
more likely to fall later. The previous deduction that it was 1488-9 is
thus further strengthened.
The evidence, then, of Dolce, writing in 1557, is clear and consistent:
Titian was born in 1488-9. Now let us see what is stated by Vasari, who
is the next oldest authority.
The first edition of the _Lives_ appeared in 1550--that is, just prior
to Dolce's _Dialogue_--but a revised and enlarged edition appeared in
1568, in which important evidence occurs as to Titian's age. After
enumerating certain pictures by the great Venetian, Vasari adds:
"(_a_) All these works, with many others which I omit, to avoid
prolixity, have been executed up to the present age of our artist, which
is above seventy-six years.... In the year 1566, when Vasari, the writer
of the present history, was at Venice, he went to visit Titian, as one
who was his friend, and found him, although then very old, still with
the pencil in his hand, and painting busily."
According to Vasari, then, Titian was "above seventy-six years" when the
second edition of the _Lives_ was written, and as from the explicit
nature of the evidence this must have been between 1566, when he visited