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Giorgione

Giorgione (jōrjôˈnā) [key], c.1478–1510, Venetian painter, b. Castelfranco Veneto; fellow student of Titian under Giovanni Bellini in Venice. Giorgione was known also as Zorgo or Zorgi da Castelfranco and as Giorgio Barbarelli. Almost nothing is known of his life except that he worked in Venice, undertook various important commissions in oil and fresco, and died of the plague in his early 30s. Legend concedes him great personal charm. A major innovator, he is credited with having been the formative influence in the lives of Titian, Pordenone, Sebastiano del Piombo, and Jacopo Palma il Vecchio. Thus, in a sense, 16th-century Venetian painting stems from him. So absolute was his domination that it is impossible to separate with certainty his work from that of his imitators. His frescoes are practically obliterated. The list of his extant works in oil is computed variously at from 4 to 70. But if Giorgione himself is an unknown quantity, his style is not. It was new to Venetian painting both in technique and in spirit. Technically it introduced a greater fusion of all forms and a subordination of local color to the pervading tone, used to emphasize forms in space. This revolution was accomplished simultaneously by Leonardo, but whereas Leonardo tended to suppress color in his opaque shadows, the colors of Giorgione were luminous and warm. The Giorgionesque style was liberating. The ostensible subject no longer limited the artist but became a pretext for self-expression. The specific works associated with Giorgione have the poetic quality of a bucolic dreamworld never recaptured by his famous followers. Among the best authenticated are Madonna with SS. Francis and Liberale (cathedral, Castelfranco Veneto); The Three Philosophers (Vienna); and the puzzling seminude woman with child set in a stormy landscape known as the Tempesta (Academy, Venice). Also celebrated, if more dubious are Concert Champêtre (Louvre); Laura (Vienna); Judith (St. Petersburg); Adoration of the Shepherds (National Gall. of Art, Washington, D.C.); the Concert (Pitti Palace); and Judgment of Solomon and Trial of Moses (Uffizi). His pastoral Sleeping Venus (Gemäldegalerie, Dresden) was finished by Titian.

See complete ed. of his works by T. Pignatti (1971); studies by G. M. Richter (1937), L. Baldass (1965), and T. Pignatti (1971).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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