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  • Giorgione From Castelfranco (1477?-1510)

    by Giancarlo v. Nacher Malvaioli

    Few painters have had so much fame as Giorgione da Castelfranco, known as Zorzo or Zorzi, during his brief existence and later, but for irony of fate, we know little of his life and of his works, none of them signed, some finished by Titian, many counterfeited in the 17th century. What is certain in his life? Hardly nothing: uncertain the year of his birth (1477 or 1478), incomplete his name, doubtful the place of his birth, maybe Castelfranco Vèneto or Vedelago), questionable his works and their meaning, it's not known if he died from plague or from love, around the age of 33, in 1510. Totally questionable his parents, and his family name, perhaps Barbarelli or Bonetti.

    He settled in Venice, probably in 1500, a city full of famous artists: Giovanni Bellini, called the Giambellino, who was the head of the whole Venetian painting, Carpaccio, Cima da Conegliano, Mantegna, whose sister married Gentile Bellini, brother of Giovanni, who continued the strong realism of Antonello da Messina and Lorenzo Costa, Crivelli, Bastiani, Buonconsiglio, Diana and many others, without considering the young artists as Lorenzo Lotto, Titian, Sebastiano del Piombo and the strangers like Albrecht Dürer.

    Venice, fascinating city suspended on the waters, between sea and sky, brilliant, enveloped in an overflowing atmosphere and spellbound by the reflexes of the light and the colors, it was an ideal place for the local and foreign painters. Phantasmagorical city with its marvelous and polychrome dawns, with its sparkling and exciting sunsets, with its marmoreal buildings, with its innumerable mosaics and frescoes. From Plaza san Mark ships of all countries are perceived on the Canal Grande; islands near and distant are glimpsed, churches with Byzantine domes and Gothic archs, sparkling with the rays of the sun. The most famous and antique Italian Marinare Republic, called 'The Serenissima', loved liberty, independence, commerce trade that sent its ships in every side-angle of the Mediterranean, superb to be governed by a wise and skilled aristocracy.

    Giorgione, who had the passion "for painting, for music and for love" - as the chronicle affirms was the artist preferred by a cultured and elegant society that loved beauty: the music of Giorgione's lute, his singing and surrounded itself with his pictures.

    Poets, poetesses, literates, astronomers, astrologists and antiquarians found a propitious environment in Asolo Caterina Cornaro's castle former queen of Cyprus, and they were converted into characters of the loving rhymes of Pietro Bembo in his 'Asolani'.

    The light, the color, the air, the space are the pictoric elements of the Venetian school. 'Painting of feelings- it has been defined-in opposition to the Florentine intellectual', and from these principles Giorgione departed to form a proper style, with such innovations criticism considers him as the first modern painter. He was the first to paint, mainly, laic themes and to secularize the religious themes diverging from his own teachers Giambellino and Carpaccio, giving a more human and pantheistic meaning. His personal vision of nature reveals in his paintings the open forms and the use of non-finished (non finito), as Leonardo does, in this way the contours fade away, submerged in the diffused faint light (as in the works of Manet and the impressionists, in the 19th century) . Giorgione sees nature through his feelings and emotions, and every element of it, man himself, is just a detail, a detail of a whole. He painted, without a previous sketch, he subordinated everything to color, freeing it from the dependence of form (another of the conquests of modern art). Also the chromatic scale is melted, in a synthesis with light and it makes us remember the sentence of the poet and novelist Gabriele D'Annunzio that defines "color as an effort of the material to convert it into light". Light is born from the meeting of the clear and the dark colors, from the contrast between the vanished parts and the clean and precise forms, and also from the vibrations of color, creating a chromatic brightness that will be afterwards typical of the Venetian painters. Finally Giorgione interpreted painting as leaning out to the open air, important to landscape itself, eliminating every symbolism and getting to modify or to change his figures, since they are simple elements of a whole.

    • La Tempesta (Tempest)
      This is a critical interpretation of Giorgione's painting titled "Tempest", which is also referred to as "The Gypsy and the Soldier".
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