Pordenone, John Antony Licinius

, known by the former name, from the village of Pordenone, about twentyfive miles from Udino, in which he was born in 1484, had a strong talent for historical painting, which he carried to a high degree of perfection, without any other aid than the careful study of the works of Giorgione. He painted at first in fresco, but afterwards in oil, and was particularly distinguished by his skill in foreshortening his figures. His invention was fertile, his taste good, his colouring not unlike that of Titian, and his designs had the merit of uniting force and ease. A strong emulation subsisted between him and Titian and it is certainly no small merit that he was able to sustain any competition with such a master. It is said, however, that they who endeavoured to support him in this rivalship, were actuated by malignity and envy towards Titian. It is related also, that when he worked in the same town with Titian, he was so afraid of the effects of his jealousy, that he never walked out without arms offensive and defensive. Pordenone painted at Genoa for prince Doria, but did not there give entire satisfaction; he then returned to Venice, and was afterwards invited to Ferrara by the duke of that state, from whom he received many signal marks of favour and esteem. He died in 1540, at the age of fifty-six, and his death has been by some authors attributed to poison given by some painters at Ferrara, jealous of the distinctions he received at court. The most considerable picture which Rome possesses of him, is that with the portraits of his family, in the palace Borghese. But perhaps his most splendid work in oil is the altar-piece at S. Maria dell' Orto, at Venice, which represents a S. Lorenzo Giustiniani, surrounded by other saints, among whom a St. John Baptist surprises no less by correctness of forms, than a St. Augustin by a boldness of foreshortening which makes his arm start from the canvas.

The frescoes of Pordenone are spread over the towns and castles of Friuli some are found at Mantua, Genoa, Venice, but the best-preserved ones are at Piacenza and Cremona. In these he is not always equal, but all bear marks of innate vigour and bold conception of a mind, as eager to form as to resolve difficulties in variety of expression, singularity of perspective, novelty of fore-shortening, and magic resources of chiaroscuro. He had an imitator in Bernardino Licinio, who from the surname may be supposed to have been related to him: and Sandrart mentions, in | a high strain of praise, Giulio Licinio de Pordenone, as his nephew and scholar; who, according to that author, quitted Venice, and left frescoes of extraordinary beauty at Augsburg. 1


Pilkington. D’Argenville, vol. 1*