Giorgione

, an eminent artist, whose name was Gioggio Barbarellj, but was generally known by the appellation of Giorgione, from loftiness of figure and gait, or the grandeur that stamps his style, was born at Castelfranco, in Frioul, 1477, and became the scholar of Giovanni Bellini. Even then he dismissed the minuteness which chained his master, and substituted that freedom, that disdainful superiority of handling, which, if it be not the result of manner, is the supreme attainment of execution. Ample outlines, bold fore-shortening, dignity, and vivacity of aspect and attitude, breadth of drapery, richness of accompaniment, more natural and softer passages from tint to tint, and forcible effects of chiaroscuro, marked the style of Giorgione. This last, the great want of the Venetian school, had, indeed, already been discovered to Upper Italy, by Lionardo da Vinci. To him, or rather to certain pictures and drawings of his, all unknown to us, Vasari pretends that Giorgione owes his chiaroscuro; but neither the line and forms peculiar to Vipci, nor his system of light and shade, seem to countenance this assertion. Gracility and amenity of aspect characterize the lines and fancy of Lionardo; fulness, roundness, those of Giorgione. Fond of a much wider diffusion of shades, and gradually diminishing their mass, the Tuscan drives light to a single point of dazzling splendour. Not so the Venetian; more open, less dark, neither brown nor ferrugineous in his demi-tints, but transparent and true; to tell the whole, he is nearer to Corregioi He may, however, have inspected and profited by the example of Lionardo, the inventor of chiaroscuro; but so as Corregio did by the fore-shortening of Mantegna. His greatest works were in fresco, of which little but the ruins remain. His numerous oil-pictures, by rigorous impasto, and fulness of pencil, st^ll preserve their beauty. Of these, his portraits have every excellence which mind, air, dignity, truth, freshness, and contrast, can confer; he sometimes indulged in ruddy, sanguine tints, but, on the whole, simplicity is their standard. His compositions are few; the most considerable was, perhaps, that of the “Tempest allayed,” in the school of St. Marco at Venice. Some consider as his master-piece “Moses taken from the Nile, and presented to the daughter of Pharaoh,” in the archiepiscopal palace at Milan, in which a certain austerity of | tone gives zest to sweetness. One large picture of a holy family is in possession of the marquis of Stafford, which is highly laboured as to effect. But, perhaps the most perfect work of his in this country, is a small picture in the collection of the earl of Carlisle, a portrait of Gaston de Foix, with a servant putting on his armour. We are not acquainted with any picture that has more truth or beauty of colour, and style of character. It is told of Giorgione, that having a dispute concerning the superiority of sculpture or painting; and it being argued, that sculpture had the advantage, because the figures it produces may be seen all around; he took the adverse side, maintaining, that the necessity of moving, in order to see the different sides, deprived it of its superiority; whereas the whole figure might be viewed at one glance, in a minute. To prove his position, he painted a figure, and surrounded it with mirrors, in which all the various parts were exhibited, and obtained great applause for his ingenuity. This artist is said to have fallen in love with a young beauty at Venice, who was no less charmed with him, and submitted to be his mistress. She fell ill with the plague; but, not suspecting it to be so, admitted Giorgione to her bed, where, the infection seizing him, they both died in 1511, he being no more than 33. 1

1

Argenville, vol. I. Pilkington, by Fuseli. Rees’s Cyclopædia,