Art e Dossier

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Art History

Giorgione: biography

According to Vasari, “Zorzo” came from “most humble origins;” the nickname “Giorgione” first appeared in Mario Grimani’s 1528 inventory. There is very little documentary data that allow us to reconstruct his life. He began painting in the manner of the renewed fifteenth century Venetian style that had been initiated by Giovanni Bellini and Vittore Carpaccio. However, he was also influenced by the great artists, who passing through the city on the lagoon, brought with them different and often revolutionary pictorial languages: Antonello da Messina, Dürer, and Leonardo. It was Da Vinci who, while in Venice in 1500, gave the young Giorgione the example of wise use of chiaroscuro, attention to human faces and the quality of the landscape’s atmosphere. It was a valuable gift for the painter who would shortly paint The Ages of Man (Palazzo Pitti). In the Castelfranco Altarpiece (1500-1505) painted for the condottiere Matteo Costanzo, he invigorated the traditional structure of the altarpiece with the landscape and the accord between man and nature created through a diffuse luminosity that unites and expands the composition. The only definite date in Giorgione’s life is 1506 that appears on the back of the portrait of the young woman known as Laura. The date of The Tempest (Venice, Gallerie dell’Accademia), however is uncertain. It may have commissioned by Gabriele Vendramin, a refined intellectual. It is one of the world’s most famous paintings, because of the enigmatic nature of the subject – there are many different interpretations – and the technique. In the Sleeping Venus (Dresden) that was completed by Titian after Giorgione’s death, we see the same contemplative attitude towards nature and beauty that were present in the philosophical circles he had frequented. Even the monumental figures of The Three Philosophers (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum) immersed in a rural setting, that he may have painted for Taddeo Contarini, have been interpreted as the three kings or three ages of man. In 1507 the Venetian Senate commissioned Giorgione to a large canvas for the audience room of the Council of Ten in the Ducal Palace that has since been lost. In 1508 he demanded payment for the frescoes he painted in the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, of which only a fragment known as Nude, remains. Giorgione died of the plague in Venice during the autumn of 1510.

The works