"His figures are well drawn, and entirely free from errors, and perfect in all their proportions, and for the most part are simple and chaste. His airs of heads are natural and graceful in women and children, while both in youth and old men they are full of life and animation. His draperies are marvellously beautiful. His nudes are admirably executed, simple in drawing, exquisite in colouring—nay, they are truly divine."
And yet? Well, let us turn to Michelangelo.
"While the best and most industrious artists," says Vasari, "were labouring by the light of Giotto and his followers to give the world examples of such power as the benignity of their stars and the varied character of their fantasies enabled them to command, and while desirous of imitating the perfection of Nature by the excellence of Art, they were struggling to attain that high comprehension which many call intelligence, and were universally toiling, but for the most part in vain, the Ruler of Heaven was pleased to turn the eyes of his clemency towards earth, and perceiving the fruitlessness of so many labours, the ardent studies pursued without any result, and the presumptuous self-sufficiency of men which is farther from truth than is darkness from light, he resolved, by way of delivering us from such great errors, to send to the world a spirit endowed with universality of power in each art, and in every profession, one capable of showing by himself alone what is the perfection of art in the sketch, the outline, the shadows, or the lights; one who could give relief to painting and with an upright judgment could operate as perfectly in sculpture; nay, who was so highly accomplished in architecture also, that he was able to render our habitations secure and commodious, healthy and cheerful, well-proportioned, and enriched with the varied ornaments of art."
A more prosaic passage follows presently, occasioned by the innuendoes of Condivi as to Vasari's intimacy with Michelangelo and his knowledge of the facts of his life at first hand. Vasari meets this accusation by quoting the following document relating to the apprenticeship of Michelangelo to Domenico Ghirlandaio when fourteen years old. "1488. I acknowledge and record this first day of April that I, Lodovico di Buonarroti, have engaged Michelangelo my son to Domenico and David di Tommaso di Currado for the three years next to come, under the following conditions: That the said Michelangelo shall remain with the above named all the said time, to the end that they may teach him to paint and to exercise their vocation, and that the above named shall have full command over him paying him in the course of these three years twenty-four florins as wages...."
Besides this teaching in his earliest youth, it is considered probable that in 1494, when he visited Bologna, he came under influences which resulted in the execution at about that time of the unfinished Entombment and the Holy Family, which are two of our greatest treasures in the National Gallery. As he took to sculpture, however, before he was out of Ghirlandaio's hands, there are few traces of any activity in painting until 1506, when he was engaged on the designs for the great battle-piece for the Council Hall at Florence. The one easel picture of which Vasari makes any mention, the tondo in the Uffizi, is the only one besides those already noted which is known to exist. "The Florentine citizen, Angelo Doni," Vasari says, "desired to have some work from his hand as he was his friend; wherefore Michelangelo began a circular painting of Our Lady for him. She is kneeling, and presents the Divine Child to Joseph. Here the artist has finely expressed the delight with which the Mother regards the beauty of her Son, as is clearly manifest in the turn of her head and fixedness of her gaze; equally evident is her wish that this contentment shall be shared by that pious old man who receives the babe with infinite tenderness and reverence. Nor was this enough for Michelangelo, since the better to display his art he has grouped several undraped figures in the background, some upright, some half recumbent, and others seated. The whole work is executed with so much care and finish that of all his pictures, which indeed are but few, this is considered the best."
After relating the story of the artist's quarrel with his friend over the price of this masterpiece (for which he at first only asked sixty ducats), Vasari goes on to describe the now lost cartoons for the great fresco in the Council Hall at Florence, in substance as follows:—
"When Leonardo was painting in the great hall of the Council, Piero Soderini, who was then Gonfaloniere, moved by the extraordinary ability which he perceived in Michelangelo [he calls him in a letter a young man who stands above all his calling in Italy; nay, in all the world], caused him to be entrusted with a portion of the work, and our artist began a very large cartoon representing the Battle of Pisa. It represented a vast number of nude figures bathing in the Arno, as men do on hot days, when suddenly the enemy is heard to be attacking the camp. The soldiers spring forth in haste to arm themselves. One is an elderly man, who to shelter himself from the heat has wreathed a garland of ivy round his head, and, seated on the ground, is labouring to draw on his hose, hindered by his limbs being wet. Hearing the sound of the drums and the cries of the soldiers he struggles violently to get on one of his stockings; the action of the muscles and distortion of the mouth evince the zeal of his efforts. Drummers and others hasten to the camp with their clothes in their arms, all in the most singular attitudes; some standing, others kneeling or stooping; some falling, others springing high into the air and exhibiting the most difficult foreshortenings.... The artists were amazed as they realised that the master had in this cartoon laid open to them the very highest resources of art; nay, there are some who still declare that they have never seen anything to equal it, either from his hand or any other, and they do not believe that genius will ever more attain to such perfection. Nor is this an exaggeration, for all who have designed from it and copied it—as it was the habit for both natives and strangers to do—have become excellent in art, amongst whom were Raphael, Andrea del Sarto, Franciabigio, Pontormo, and Piero del Vaga."
In 1508 Michelangelo began to prepare the cartoons for the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Space forbids me to attempt any description of these, but the story of their completion as related by Vasari can hardly be omitted. "When half of them were nearly finished," he says, "Pope Julius, who had gone more than once to see the work—mounting the ladders with the artist's help—insisted on having them opened to public view without waiting till the last touches were given, and the chapel was no sooner open than all Rome hastened thither, the Pope being first, even before the dust caused by removing the scaffold had subsided. Then it was that Raphael, who was very prompt in imitation, changed his manner, and to give proof of his ability immediately executed the frescoes with the Prophets and Sibyls in the church of the Pace. Bramante (the architect) also laboured to convince the Pope that he would do well to entrust the second half to Raphael.... But Julius, who justly valued the ability of Michelangelo, commanded that he should continue the work, judging from what he saw of the first half that he would be able to improve the second. Michelangelo accordingly finished the whole in twenty months, without help. It is true that he often complained that he was prevented from giving it the finish he would have liked owing to the Pope's impatience, and his constant inquiries as to when it would be finished, and on one occasion he answered, "It will be finished when I shall have done all that I believe necessary to satisfy art." "And we command," replied Julius, "that you satisfy our wish to have it done quickly," adding finally that if it were not at once completed he would have Michelangelo thrown headlong from the scaffolding. Hearing this, the artist, without taking time to add what was wanting, took down the remainder of the scaffolding, to the great satisfaction of the whole city, on All Saints' Day, when the Pope went into his chapel to sing Mass."
Michelangelo had much wished to retouch some portions of the work a secco, as had been done by the older masters who had painted the walls; and to add a little ultramarine to some of the draperies, and gild other parts, so as to give a richer and more striking effect. The Pope, too, would now have liked these additions to be made, but as Michelangelo thought it would take too long to re-erect the scaffolding, the pictures remained as they were. The Pope would sometimes say to him, "Let the chapel be enriched with gold and bright colours; it looks poor." To which Michelangelo would reply, "Holy Father, the men of those days did not adorn themselves with gold; those who are painted here less than any; for they were none too rich. Besides, they were holy men, and must have despised riches and ornaments."
RAFFAELLO DI SANTI
The character and the influence of RAPHAEL are well expressed in the following sentences with which Vasari concludes his biography:—"O happy and blessed spirit! every one speaks with interest of thee; celebrates thy deeds; admires thee in thy works! Well might Painting die when this noble artist ceased to live; for when his eyes were closed she remained in darkness. For us who survive him it remains to imitate the excellent method which he has left for our guidance; and as his great qualities deserve, and our duty bids us, to cherish his memory in our hearts, and keep it alive in our discourse by speaking of him with the high respect which is his due. For through him we have the art in all its extent carried to a perfection which could hardly have been looked for; and in this universality let no human being ever hope to surpass him. And, beside this benefit which he conferred on Art as her true friend, he neglected not to show us how every man should conduct himself in all the relations of life. Among his rare gifts there is one which especially excites my wonder; I mean, that Heaven should have granted him to infuse a spirit among those who lived around him so contrary to that which is prevalent among professional men. The painters—I do not allude to the humble-minded only, but to those of an ambitious turn, and many of this sort there are—the painters who worked in company with Raphael lived in perfect harmony, as if all bad feelings were extinguished in his presence, and every base, unworthy thought had passed from their minds. This was because the artists were at once subdued by his obliging manners and by his surpassing merit, but more than all by the spell of his natural character, which was so full of affectionate kindness, that not only men, but even the very brutes, respected him. He always had a great number of artists employed for him, helping them and teaching them with the kindness of a father to his children, rather than as a master directing his scholars. For which reason it was observed he never went to court without being accompanied from his very door by perhaps fifty painters who took pleasure in thus attending him to do him honour. In short, he lived more as a sovereign than as a painter. And thus, O Art of Painting! thou too, then, could account thyself most happy, since an artist was thine, who, by his skill and by his moral excellence exalted thee to the highest heaven!"
Raphael was the son of Giovanni Sanzio, or di Santi, of Urbino. He received his first education as an artist from his father, whom, however, he lost in his eleventh year. As early as 1495 probably, he entered the school of Pietro Perugino, at Perugia, where he remained till about his twentieth year.
The "Umbrian School," in which Raphael received his first education, and in which he is accordingly placed, is distinguished from the Florentine, of which it may be said to have been an offshoot, by several well-defined characteristics. Chief of these are, first, the more sentimental expression of religious feeling, and second, the greater attention paid to distance as compared with the principal figures; both of which are explainable on the ground of local circumstances. They reflect the difference between the bustling intellectual activity of Florence and the dreamy existence but broader horizon of the dwellers in the upper valley of the Tiber. In the beautiful Nativity of PIERO DELLA FRANCESCA (No. 908 in the National Gallery) we see something akin to the Florentine pictures, and yet something more besides. Piero shared with Paolo Uccello the eager desire to discover the secrets of perspective; but in addition he seems to have been influenced by the study of nature herself, in the open air, as Uccello never was. His pupil, LUCA SIGNORELLI (1441-1523), was more formal and less naturalistic, as may be seen by a comparison between the Circumcision (No. 1128 in the National Gallery) and Piero's Baptism of Christ on the opposite wall. PIETRO PERUGINO (1446-1523)—his real name was Vannucci—was influenced both by Signorelli and by Verrocchio. In the studio of the latter he had probably worked with Leonardo and Lorenzo di Credi, so that in estimating the influences which went to form the art of Raphael we need not insist too strongly on the distinction between "Umbrian" and "Florentine."
Raphael's first independent works (about 1500) are entirely in Perugino's style. They bear the general stamp of the Umbrian School, but in its highest beauty. His youthful efforts are essentially youthful, and seem to contain the earnest of a high development. Two are in the Berlin Museum. In the one (No. 141) called the Madonna Solly, the Madonna reads in a book; the Child on her lap holds a goldfinch. The other (No. 145), with heads of S. Francis and S. Jerome, is better. Similar to it, but much more finished and developed, is a small round picture, the Madonna Casa Connestabile, now at St. Petersburg.
A more important picture of this time is the Coronation of the Virgin, painted for the church of S. Francesco at Perugia in 1503, but now in the Vatican. In the upper part, Christ and the Madonna are throned on clouds and surrounded by angels with musical instruments; underneath, the disciples stand around the empty tomb. In this lower part of the picture there is a very evident attempt to give the figures more life, motion, and enthusiastic expression than was before attempted in the school.
After this, Raphael appears to have quitted the school of Perugino, and to have commenced an independent career: he executed at this time some pictures in the neighbouring town of Citta di Castello. With all the features of the Umbrian School, they already show the freer impulse of his own mind,—a decided effort to individualize. The most excellent of these, and the most interesting example of this first period of Raphael's development, is the Marriage of the Virgin (Lo Sposalizio), inscribed with his name and the date 1504, now in the Brera at Milan. With much of the stiffness and constraint of the old school, the figures are noble and dignified; the countenances, of the sweetest style of beauty, are expressive of a tender, enthusiastic melancholy, which lends a peculiar charm to this subject.
In 1504 Raphael painted the two little pictures in the Louvre, S. George and S. Michael (Nos. 1501-2) for the Duke of Urbino. The Knight Dreaming, a small picture, now in the National Gallery (No. 213), is supposed to have been painted a year earlier.
In the autumn of 1504 Raphael went to Florence. Tuscan art had now attained its highest perfection, and the most celebrated artists were there contending for the palm. From this period begins his emancipation
from the confined manner of Perugino's school; the youth ripens into manhood and acquires the free mastery of form.
To this time belong the celebrated Madonna del Granduca, now in the Pitti Gallery, and another formerly belonging to the Duke of Terra Nuova, and now at Berlin (No. 247a). In the next year we find him employed on several large works in Perugia; these show for the first time the influence of Florentine art in the purity, fullness, and intelligent treatment of form; at the same time many of the motives of the Peruginesque school are still apparent. The famous Cowper Madonna, recently sold to an American for L140,000, also belongs to the year 1505, when the blending of the two influences resulted in a picture which has been extolled by the sanest of critics as "the loveliest of Raphael's Virgins." An altar-piece, executed for the church of the Serviti at Perugia, inscribed with the date 1506, is the famous Madonna dei Ansidei, purchased for the National Gallery from the Duke of Marlborough. Besides the dreamy religious feeling of the School of Perugia, we perceive here the aim at a greater freedom, founded on deeper study.
Raphael was soon back in Florence, where he remained until 1508. The early paintings of this period betray, as might be expected, many reminiscences of the Peruginesque school, both in conception and execution; the later ones follow in all essential respects the general style of the Florentines.
One of the earliest is the Virgin in the Meadow, in the Belvedere Gallery at Vienna. Two others show a close affinity with this composition; one is the Madonna del Cardellino, in the Tribune of the Uffizi, in which S. John presents a goldfinch to the infant Christ. The other is the so-called Belle Jardiniere, inscribed 1507, in the Louvre.
It is interesting to observe Raphael's progress in the smaller pictures which he painted in Florence—half-figures of the Madonna and Child. Here again the earliest are characterised by the tenderest feeling, while a freer and more cheerful enjoyment of life is apparent in the later ones. The Madonna della Casa Tempi, at Munich, is the first of this series. In the picture from the Colonna Palace at Rome, now in the Berlin Museum (No. 248), the same childlike sportiveness, the same maternal tenderness, are developed with more harmonious refinement. A larger picture, belonging to the middle time of his Florentine period, is in the Munich Gallery—the Madonna Canignani, which presents a peculiar study of artificial grouping, in a pyramidal shape. Among the best pictures of the latter part of this Florentine period are the S. Catherine, now in the National Gallery, formerly in the Aldobrandini Gallery at Rome, and two large altar-pieces. One of these is the Madonna del Baldacchino, in the Pitti Gallery. The other, The Entombment, painted for the church of S. Francesco at Perugia, is now in the Borghese Gallery at Rome. This is the first of Raphael's compositions in which an historical subject is dramatically developed; but in this respect the task exceeded his powers. The composition lacks repose and unity of effect; the movements are exaggerated and mannered; but the figure of the Saviour is extremely beautiful, and may be placed among the greatest of the master's creations.
About the middle of the year 1508, when only in his twenty-fifth year, Raphael was invited by Pope
Julius II. to decorate the state apartments in the Vatican. With these works commences the third period of his development, and in these he reached his highest perfection. The subjects, more important than any in which he had hitherto been occupied, gave full scope to his powers; and the proximity of Michelangelo, who at this time began the painting of the Sistine Chapel, excited his emulation.
At this period, just before the Reformation, the Papal power had reached its proudest elevation. To glorify this power—to represent Rome as the centre of spiritual culture—were the objects of the paintings in the Vatican. They cover the ceilings and walls of three chambers and a large saloon, which now bear the name of the "Stanze of Raphael."
The execution of these paintings principally occupied Raphael to the time of his death, and were only completed by his scholars.
In 1513 and 1514 Raphael also executed designs for the ten tapestries intended to adorn the Sistine Chapel, representing events from the lives of the apostles. Seven of these magnificent cartoons are now in the South Kensington Museum.
Beside these important commissions executed for the Papal court, during twelve years, many claims were made on him by private persons. Two frescoes executed for Roman churches may be mentioned. One, in S. Maria della Pace, represents four Sibyls surrounded by angels, which it is interesting to compare with the Sibyls of Michelangelo. In each we find the peculiar excellence of the two great masters; Michelangelo's figures are grand, sublime, profound, while the fresco of the Pace exhibits Raphael's serene and ingenious grace. In a second fresco, the prophet Isaiah and two angels, in the church of S. Agostino at Rome, the comparison is less favourable to Raphael, the effort to rival the powerful style of Michelangelo being rather too obvious.
Like all other artists, Raphael is at his best when, undisturbed by outside influences, he follows the free original impulse of his own mind. His peculiar element was grace and beauty of form, in so far as these are the expression of high moral purity.
The following works of his third period are especially deserving of mention.
The Aldobrandini Madonna, now in the National Gallery—in which the Madonna is sitting on a bench, and bends down to the little S. John, her left arm round him. The Madonna of the Duke of Alba, in the Hermitage at St. Petersburg. La Vierge au voile, in the Louvre; the Madonna is seated in a kneeling position, lifting the veil from the sleeping Child in order to show him to the little S. John. The Madonna della Seggiola, in the Pitti at Florence (painted about 1516), a circular picture. The Madonna della Tenda at Munich; a composition similar to the last, except that the Child is represented in more lively action, and looking upwards.
A series of similar, but in some instances more copious compositions, belong to a still later period; they are in a great measure the work of his scholars, painted after his drawings, and only partly worked upon by Raphael himself. Indeed many pictures of this class should perhaps be considered altogether as the productions of his school, at a time when that school was under his direct superintendence, and when it was enabled to imitate his finer characteristics in a remarkable degree.
In this class are the Madonna dell'Impannata, in the Pitti, which takes its name from the oiled-paper window in the background. The large picture of a Holy Family in the Louvre, painted in 1518, for Francis I., is peculiarly excellent. The whole has a character of cheerfulness and joy: an easy and delicate play of graceful lines, which unite in an intelligible and harmonious whole. Giulio Romano assisted in the execution.
With regard to the large altar-pieces of his later period in which several Saints are assembled round the Madonna, it is to be observed that Raphael has contrived to place them in reciprocal relation to each other, and to establish a connection between them; while the earlier masters either ranged them next to one another in simple symmetrical repose, or disposed them with a view to picturesque effect.
Of these the Madonna di Foligno, in the Vatican, is the earliest. In the upper part of the picture is the Madonna with the Child, enthroned on the clouds in a glory, surrounded by angels. Underneath, on one side, kneels the donor, behind him stands S. Jerome. On the other side is S. Francis, kneeling, while he points with one hand out of the picture to the people, for whom he entreats the protection of the Mother of Grace; behind him is S. John the Baptist, who points to the Madonna, while he looks at the spectator as if inviting him to worship her.
The second, the Madonna del Pesce has much more repose and grandeur as whole, and unites the sublime and abstract character of sacred beings with the individuality of nature in the happiest manner. It is now in Madrid, but was originally painted for S. Domenico at Naples, about 1513. It represents the Madonna and Child on a throne; on one side is S. Jerome; on the other the guardian angel with the young Tobias who carries a fish (whence the name of the picture). The artist has imparted a wonderfully poetic character to the subject. S. Jerome, kneeling on the steps of the throne, has been reading from a book to the Virgin and Child, and appears to have been interrupted by the entrance of Tobias and the Angel. The infant Christ turns towards them, but at the same time lays his hand on the open book, as if to mark the place. The Virgin turns towards the Angel, who introduces Tobias; while the latter dropping on his knees, looks up meekly to the Divine Infant. S. Jerome looks over the book to the new-comers, as if ready to proceed with his occupation after the interruption.
But the most important is the famous Madonna di San Sisto, at Dresden. Here the Madonna appears as the queen of the heavenly host, in a brilliant glory of countless angel-heads, standing on the clouds, with the eternal Son in her arms; S. Sixtus and S. Barbara kneel at the sides. Both of them seem to connect the picture with the real spectators. This is a rare example of a picture of Raphael's later time, executed entirely by his own hand.
Two large altar pictures still claim our attention; they also belong to Raphael's later period. One is the Christ Bearing the Cross, in Madrid, known by the name of Lo Spasimo di Sicilia, from the convent of Santa Maria dello Spasimo at Palermo, for which it was painted. Here, as in the tapestries, we again find a finely conceived development of the event, and an excellent composition. The other is the Transfiguration, now in the Vatican, formerly in S. Pietro at Montorio.
This was the last work of the master (left unfinished at his death); the one which was suspended over his coffin, a trophy of his fame, for public homage.
"I cannot believe myself in Rome," wrote Count Castiglione, on the death of the master, "now that my poor Raphael is no longer here." Men regarded his works with religious veneration as if God had revealed himself through Raphael as in former days through the prophets. His remains were publicly laid out on a splendid catafalque, while his last work, the Transfiguration, was suspended over his head. He was buried in the Pantheon, under an altar adorned by a statue of the Holy Virgin, a consecration offering from Raphael himself. Doubts having been raised as to the precise spot, a search was made in the Pantheon in 1833, and Raphael's bones were found; the situation agreeing exactly with Vasari's description of the place of interment. On the 18th of October, in the same year, the relics were reinterred in the same spot with great solemnities.
* * * * *
The schools of Lombardy and the Emilia, which derive their characteristics from Florentine rather than from Venetian influences, may here be briefly mentioned before turning to the consideration of the Venetian School. In 1482, it will be remembered, Leonardo went to Milan, where he remained till the end of the century; and the extent of his influence may be judged from many of the productions of BERNADINO LUINI (1475-1532) and GIOVANNI ANTONIO BAZZI, known as SODOMA (1477-1549). Of AMBROGIO DI PREDIS we have already heard in connection with the painting of our version of Leonardo's Virgin of the Rocks. GIOVANNI ANTONIO BOLTRAFFIO (1467-1516) was a pupil of VINCENZO FOPPA, but he soon abandoned the manner of the old Lombard School, and came under the influence of the great Florentine, of whom he became a most enthusiastic disciple.
More independent—indeed, he is officially characterised as "an isolated phenomenon in Italian Art"—was ANTONIO ALLEGRI, commonly called CORREGGIO, from the place of his birth. In 1518 he settled at Parma, where he remained till 1530, so that he is usually catalogued as of the School of Parma, which for an isolated phenomenon serves as well as any other. Of late years his popularity has been somewhat diminished by the increasing demands of private collectors for works which are purchasable, and most of Correggio's are in public galleries. At Dresden are some of the most famous, notably the Nativity, called "La Notte," from its wonderful scheme of illumination, and two or three large altar-pieces. The Venus Mercury and Cupid in our National Gallery, though sadly injured, is still one of his masterpieces. It was purchased by Charles I. with the famous collection of the Duke of Mantua. Our Ecce Homo is entitled to rank with it, as is also the little Madonna of the Basket.
THE VIVARINI AND BELLINI
In Venice the Byzantine style appears to have offered a more stubborn resistance to the innovators than in Tuscany, or, in fact, in any other part of Italy. Few, if any, of the allegorical subjects with which Giotto and his scholars decorated whole buildings are to be found here, and the altar pictures retain longer than anywhere else the gilt canopied compartments and divisions, and the tranquil positions of single figures. It was not until a century after the death of Cimabue and Duccio that the real development of the Venetian School was manifested, so that when things did begin to move the conditions were not the same, and the results accordingly were something substantially different.
The influence of the Byzantine style still hangs heavily over the work of NICOLO SEMITECOLO, who was working in Venice in the middle of the fourteenth century, as may be seen in the great altar-piece ascribed to him in the Academy—the Coronation of the Virgin with fourteen scenes from the life of Christ. In this work there is little of the general advancement visible in other parts of Italy. It corresponds most nearly with the work of Duccio of Siena, though without attaining his excellence; while the gold hatchings and olive brown tones are still Byzantine.
An altar-piece, by MICHELE GIAMBONO, also in the Academy, painted during the first half of the fifteenth century, shows a more decided advance, and even anticipates some of the later excellences of the Venetian School. The drapery is in the long and easy lines which we see in the Tuscan pictures of the period, and what is especially significant, in view of the subsequent development of Venetian painting, the colouring is rich, deep, and transparent, and the flesh tints unusually soft and warm. This is signed by Giambono, and is one of his most important works, as well as the most complete, as it exists in its original state as an ancona or altar-piece divided into compartments by canopies of joiners' work. It is unusual in form, inasmuch as the central panel, though slightly larger than the pair on either side, contains but a single figure. This figure was generally supposed to be the Saviour, but it has recently been pointed out that it is S. James the Great, the others being SS. John the Evangelist, Philip Benizi, Michael, and Louis of Toulouse. Some of Giambono's finest work was in mosaic, and the walls and roof of the Cappella de'Mascoli in S. Mark's may be regarded as the highest achievement in mosaic of the early Venetian School. While this species of decoration had given place to fresco painting elsewhere, it was here, in 1430, brought to a pitch of perfection by Giambono which entitles this work to a prominent place in the history of painting.
But the two chief pioneers of the early fifteenth century were Giovanni, or JOHANNES ALAMANUS, and ANTONIO DA MURANO. The former appears from his surname to have been of German origin, the latter belonged to the family of VIVARINI, and they used to work together on the same pictures. Two excellent examples of this combination are in the Academy at Venice. The one, dated 1440, is a Coronation of the Virgin, with many figures, including several boys, and numerous saints seated. In the heads of the saints we may trace the hand of Alamanus, in the Germanic type of countenance which recalls the style of Stephen of Cologne. A repetition of this, if it is not actually the original, is in S. Pantalone at Venice. The other picture, dated 1446, of enormous dimensions, represents the Virgin enthroned, beneath a canopy sustained by angels, with the four Fathers of the Church at her side. The colouring is fully as flowing and splendid as that of Giambono.
We do not recognise here, as Kugler rightly observes, the influence of the school of Giotto, but rather the types of the Germanic style gradually assuming a new character, possibly owing to the social condition of Venice itself. There was something perhaps in the nature of a rich commercial aristocracy of the middle ages calculated to encourage that species of art which offered the greatest splendour and elegance to the eye; and this also, if possible, in a portable form; thus preferring the domestic altar or the dedication picture to wall decorations in churches. The contemporary Flemish paintings, under similar conditions, exhibit analogous results. With regard to colour, the depth and transparency observable in the works of the old Venetian School had long been a distinguishing feature in the Byzantine paintings on wood, and may therefore be traceable to this source without assuming an influence on the part of Padua, or from the north through Giovanni Alamanus.
The two side panels of an altar-piece, representing severally SS. Peter and Jerome, and SS. Francis and Mark, now in the National Gallery (Nos. 768 and 1284), are ascribed to Antonio Vivarini alone, though the centre panel, the Virgin and Child, now in the Poldi Pezzoli collection at Milan is said to be the joint work of Alamanus and Antonio. However that may be, there is no longer any dispute about the fascinating Adoration of the Kings in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum at Berlin, formerly supposed to be the work of Gentile da Fabriano, but now catalogued as that of Antonio.
In 1450 the name of Alamanus disappears altogether, and that of BARTOLOMMEO VIVARINI, Antonio's younger brother, replaces it in an inscription upon the great altar-piece commissioned by Pope Nicholas V. in commemoration of Cardinal Albergati, now in the Pinacoteca of Bologna. The change is noticeable as introducing the Paduan influence of Squarcione, under whom Bartolommeo had studied, instead of the northern influence of Alamanus, into Antonio's workshop, and while this work of 1450, as might be supposed, bears a general resemblance to that of 1446, the change of partnership is at least perceptible, and had a determining influence on the development of the Venetian style.
A slightly earlier work of Bartolommeo alone is a Madonna and Child belonging to Sir Hugh Lane, signed and dated 1448. An altar-piece in the Venice Academy is dated 1464, a Madonna and Four Saints, in the Frari, 1482, and S. Barbara, in the Academy, 1490. Bartolommeo is supposed to have died in 1499.
ALVISE, or LUIGI, VIVARINI was the son of Antonio, and though he worked under him and his uncle Bartolommeo, as well as under Giovanni Bellini, the Paduan influence is apparent in his work. He was born in 1447, and his first dated work is an altar-piece at Montefiorentino, in 1475. In the Academy at Venice is a Madonna dated 1480, and at Naples a Madonna with SS. Francis and Bernard, 1485. Another Madonna at Vienna is dated 1489, and the large altar-piece in the Basilica at the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in Berlin is assigned to about the same time. This is the first of his works in which the influence of Bellini rather than that of his family is traceable, while of the "Redentore" Madonna at Venice, of about five years later, Mr Bernhard Bernson says that, "As a composition no work of the kind by Giovanni Bellini even rivals it." In 1498 he had advanced so far as to be spoken of as anticipating Giorgione and Titian, in the effect of light and in the roundness and softness of the figures of the Resurrection, at Bragora. His last work, the altar-piece at the Frari, was completed after his death in 1504 by his pupil Basaiti. Bartolommeo Montagna, Jacopo da Valenza and Lorenzo Lotto were the chief of his other pupils.
In connection with the Vivarini must be mentioned CARLO CRIVELLI, who studied with Bartolommeo under Antonio and Squarcione. But there was something fierce and uncongenial about Crivelli which takes him out of the main body of Venetian painters, and seems to have given him more pride in being made a knight than in his pictorial achievements, remarkable as they were. In his ornamentation of every detail with gold and jewels he recalls the style of Antonio Vivarini, but while the master used it as accessory merely, Crivelli positively revelled in it. An inventory of the precious stones, ornaments, fruits and flowers, and other detached items in the great "Demidoff Altar-Piece" in the National Gallery would fill several pages. Of the eight examples in this gallery the earliest is probably the Dead Christ, presumably painted in 1472. The Demidoff altar-piece is dated 1476. The Annunciation (No. 739), which may be considered his masterpiece, was ten years later. In 1490 Crivelli was knighted by Prince Ferdinand of Capua, and from that date onward he was careful to add to his signature the title Miles—as appears in our Madonna and Child Enthroned, with SS. Jerome and Sebastian—called the Madonna della Rondine:——
CAROLUS CRIVELLUS VENETUS MILES PINXIT. This was painted for the Odoni Chapel in S. Francesco at Matelica, the coat of arms of the family being painted on the step.
Our Annunciation was executed for the convent of the Santissima Annunziata at Ascoli, and is dated 1486. Three coats of arms on the front of the step at the bottom of the picture are those of the Bishop of Ascoli, Pope Innocent VII., the reigning Pontiff, and the City of Ascoli. Between these are the words Libertas Ecclesiastica, in allusion to the charter of self-government given in 1482 by the Pope to the citizens of Ascoli. The patron saint of the city, S. Emidius, is represented as a youth kneeling beside the Archangel, holding in his hands a model of it. The Virgin is seen through the open door of a house, and in an open loggia above are peacocks and other birds. Amid all the rich detail, the significance of the group of figures at the top of a flight of steps must not be missed, amongst which a child and a poet are the only two who are represented as noticing the mystic event.
Another painter of the earlier half of the fourteenth century may be mentioned here, though as he was more famous as a medallist his influence on the main course of painting is not observable. VITTORE PISANO, called PISANELLO, was born in Verona before 1400, and died in 1455. Of the few pictures attributed to him we are fortunate in having two such beautiful examples as the SS. Anthony and George and The Vision of S. Eustace in the National Gallery. Both exhibit his two most noticeable characteristics, namely, the minute care and exquisite feeling that made him the most famous of medallists, and his wonderful drawing of animals. The latter, it is worth remarking, was attributed by a former owner to Albert Duerer. The other is signed "Pisanus"; in the frame are inserted casts of two of his medals, representing Leonello d'Este, his patron, and a profile of himself.
Another very considerable factor in the development of Venetian painting was the influence of GENTILE DA FABRIANO (c. 1360-1430), who settled in Venice in the latter part of his life, and there formed the closest intimacy with Antonio Vivarini. The remarkable Adoration of the Kings in the Berlin Museum was until lately given to Gentile, though it is now catalogued as the work of Antonio. Of Gentile's education little is known, and of the numerous works which he executed at Fabriano, in Rome and in Venice very few have survived. From those that exist, however, we can form an estimate of his talents and of the difference between his earlier and later styles. To the first belong a fresco of the Madonna in the Cathedral at Orvieto, and the beautiful picture of the Madonna and saints which is now in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum at Berlin. Also the fine Adoration of the Kings, inscribed with his name and the date 1423, formerly in the sacristy of S. Trinita at Florence, and now in the Accademia. This, his masterpiece, is one of the finest conceptions of the subject as well as one of the most excellent productions of the schools descended from Giotto. Of his later period the Coronation of the Virgin (called the Quadro della Romita) in the Brera gallery at Milan is one of the finest. In many respects his work is like that of Fra Angelico, and was aptly characterised by Michelangelo when he said that "Gentile's pictures were like his name." Apart from the influence of the Paduan School, which will next be noticed, the Venetian owed most to Gentile da Fabriano, if only as the master of Jacopo Bellini, whose son, Giovanni Bellini, may be regarded as the real head of the Venetian School as developed by his pupils Giorgione and Titian at the opening of the sixteenth century.
Whether or not Giotto left any actual pupils in Padua after completing the frescoes in the chapel of the arena there, it must be admitted that the older school of painting in Padua, which centred round the church containing the body of S. Anthony, was an offshoot of the Florentine, and that as Giotto was the great leader in Florence he must be considered the same here; though his followers differ so much from each other in style that beyond their indebtedness to their founder they have no distinctive feature in common. But with the opening of the fifteenth century one particular tendency was developed under the fostering influence of FRANCESCO SQUARCIONE, born in 1394, which affected in a very sensible degree the style of the great painters of the next generation in Venice. This, in a word, was the cult of the antique.
Among the Florentines, as we have seen, the study of form was chiefly pursued on the principle of direct reference to nature, the especial object in view being an imitation in two dimensions of the actual appearances and circumstances of life existing in three. In the Paduan School it now came to be very differently developed, namely, by the study of the masterpieces of antique sculpture, in which the common forms of nature were already raised to a high ideal of beauty. This school has consequently the merit, as Kugler points out, of applying the rich results of an earlier, long-forgotten excellence in art to modern practice. Of a real comprehension of the idealising principle of classic art there does not appear any trace; what the Paduans borrowed from the antique was limited primarily to mere outward beauty. Accordingly in the earliest examples we find the drapery treated according to the antique costume, and the general arrangement more resembling bas-relief than rounded groups. The accessories display in like manner a special attention to antique models, particularly in the architecture, and the frequent introduction of festoons of fruit; while the exaggerated sharpness in the marking of the forms due to the combined influence of the study of the antique and the naturalising tendency of the time, sometimes borders on excess.
The immediate cause of this almost sudden outbreak of the cult of the antique—whatever natural forces were behind it—was the visit of Squarcione to Greece, and Southern Italy, to collect specimens of the remains of ancient art. On his return to Padua his collection soon attracted a great number of pupils anxious to avail themselves of the advantages it offered; and by these pupils, who poured in from all parts of Italy, the manner of the school was afterwards spread throughout a great portion of the country. Squarcione himself is better known as a teacher than as an artist, the few of his remaining works being of no great importance. There is no example in the National Gallery, but of the work of his great pupil, Mantegna, we have as much, at any rate, as will serve to commemorate the master.
ANDREA MANTEGNA was born at Vicenza in 1431, and when no more than ten years old was inscribed in the guild of Padua as pupil and adopted son of Squarcione. As early as 1448 he had painted an altar-piece for Santa Sophia, now lost, and in 1452 the fresco in San Antonio. In 1455 he was engaged with Nicolo Pizzolo (Donatello's assistant), and others, on the six frescoes in the Eremitani Church at Padua. The whole of the left side of the chapel of SS. James and Christopher—the life of S. James—and the martyrdom of S. Christopher are his, and in these, his earliest remaining works, we already see the result of pedantic antiquarianism combined with his extraordinary individuality.
In 1460 he went to Mantua, where he remained for the greater part of his life, visiting Florence in 1466 and Rome in 1488.
Among his earlier works are the small Adoration of the Kings in the Uffizi at Florence, the Death of the Virgin and the S. George in the Venice Academy. From 1484 to 1494 he was intermittently engaged on the nine great cartoons of The Triumph of Caesar, which are now at Hampton Court, having been acquired by Charles I. with many other gems from the Duke of Mantua's collection. On the completion of these he painted the celebrated Madonna della Vittoria, now in the Louvre—a large altar-piece representing a Madonna surrounded by saints, with Francesco Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, and his wife, kneeling at her feet. It is a dedication picture for a victory obtained over Charles VIII. of France in 1495. It is no less remarkable for its superb execution than for a softer treatment of the flesh than is usual in Mantegna's work. Two other pictures in the Louvre are, however, distinguished by similar qualities—the Parnassus, painted in 1497, and the Triumph of Virtue.
In our own collection we have The Agony in the Garden, painted in 1459—to which I shall refer presently—two monochrome paintings (Nos. 1125 and 1145), the beautiful Virgin and Child Enthroned, with SS. Mary Magdalen and John the Baptist, which is comparable with the more famous Louvre Madonna, and, lastly, the Triumph of Scipio, in monochrome, painted for Francesco Cornaro, a Venetian nobleman, completed in 1506, only a few months before the painter's death. In this we see that Mantegna's antiquarianism was not simply a youthful phase, but lasted till the very end of his career. The subject is the reception of the Phrygian mother of the gods among the recognised divinities of the Roman State, as is indicated on the plinth by the inscription. In the centre is Claudia Quinta about to kneel before the bust of the goddess. Behind is Scipio, and in the background are monuments to his family. The composition includes twenty-two figures. It is significant that the subject and its treatment are so entirely classic as only to be appreciated by references to Latin literature.
Another significance attaches to the Agony in the Garden above mentioned, which is one of the very earliest, as the Scipio is the very latest, of Mantegna's pictures, being painted before he left Padua to go to Mantua. In this we find that the original suggestion for the design appears to have been taken from a drawing in the sketch-book of his father-in-law, Jacopo Bellini, which is now in the British Museum; and the same design appears to have served Giovanni Bellini in the composition of the picture in our gallery (No. 726). This takes us back to Venice, and accounts for the Paduan influence traceable in the works of the Bellini family and their pupils.
JACOPO BELLINI, whose considerable talents have been somewhat obscured by the fame of his two sons, Gentile and Giovanni, was originally a pupil of Gentile da Fabriano, after whom he named his eldest son. He was working in Padua in the middle of the fifteenth century, in rivalry with Squarcione, and in 1453 his daughter Nicolosia married Andrea Mantegna. Thus it happened that both of his sons came under the influence of Mantegna, and evidently, too, of the sculptor Donatello, when working at Padua between 1450 and 1460.
Very few authentic pictures by Jacopo are known to us. A Crucifixion (much repainted) was in the sacristy of the Episcopal Palace at Verona; and another, which recalls the treatment of his master, Gentile da Fabriano, at Lovere, near Bergamo. In the sketch-book above mentioned, the contents of which consist of sacred subjects, and studies from the antique, both in architecture and in costume, we see the peculiar tendency of the Paduan School expressed in the most complete and comprehensive manner. These drawings constitute the most remarkable link of connection between Mantegna and the sons of Jacopo Bellini, all three of whom must have studied from them. The book was inherited by Gentile on his mother's death, and bequeathed by him to his brother on condition that he should finish the picture of S. Mark, on which Gentile was engaged at the time of his death.
GIOVANNI BELLINI was born in 1428 or 1430 and lived to 1516. Albert Duerer, writing from Venice in 1506, says that "he is very old, but is still the best in painting."
The greater number of Bellini's pictures are to be found in the galleries and churches in Venice, all of those which are dated being the work of his old age. Of his earlier pictures we are fortunate in having two fine examples in the National Gallery, Christ's Agony in the Garden (No. 726) and The Blood of the Redeemer (No. 1233). In both of these the influence of his famous brother-in-law Andrea Mantegna, is traceable,—the former being till lately attributed to him. Both Giovanni and Gentile worked in Padua, where Mantegna was established, in 1460 or thereabouts, and where another influence, that of the sculptor Donatello, must have had its effect on the young brothers. Similar in character, and even more beautiful in some respects, is the Redeemer, a single half figure in a landscape, recently acquired for the Louvre—the first authentic example of the master in that collection.
In 1464, Giovanni had returned to Venice, and it was some years before the severe Paduan influence melted before "the sensuous feeling of the true Venetian temperament." In 1475, however, the arrival of Antonello da Messina in Venice, bringing with him the practice of painting in oil, effected a revolution, in which Giovanni, if not one of the foremost, was certainly one of the most successful in adopting the new method. His later works, so far from showing any diminution of power, may be said to anticipate the Venetian style of the sixteenth century in the clearest manner. One of the chief, dated 1488, is the large altar-piece in the sacristy of S. Maria di Frari, a Madonna Enthroned with two angels and four saints. The two little angels are of the utmost beauty; the one is playing on a lute, and listens with head inclined to hear whether the instrument is in tune; the other is blowing a pipe. The whole is perfectly finished and of a splendid effect of colour. To the year 1486 belongs a Madonna Enthroned with Six Saints, now in the Academy at Venice. The famous head of the Doge Loredano in the National Gallery must have been painted in or after 1501. In 1507, he completed the large picture of S. Mark Preaching at Alexandria, now in the Brera Gallery at Milan, begun by his brother Gentile. Within three years of his death, namely in 1513, he could produce such a masterwork as the altar-piece in S. Giovanni Crisostomo. His last work, the landscape in which was finished by Titian, is dated 1514. This is the famous Bacchanal now in the collection of the Duke of Northumberland.
The influence of Bellini on the Venetian School was paramount, and his noble example helped more than anything else to develop the excellences observable in the works of Cimada Conegliano, Vincenzo Catena, Lorenzo Lotto, Palma Vecchio and Basaiti, to say nothing of his great pupils Titian and Giorgione. It is impossible to conjecture what course the genius of this younger generation would have taken without his guidance, but when we consider that in 1500 Bellini was seventy years old, and had stored within his mind the experience of his early association with his brother-in-law Andrea Mantegna in Padua, the introduction of the use of oil paints by Antonello da Messina in 1475, since which date he had sedulously developed the new practice; when we also take into account the dignity and gravity of his own works, and the indication they afford of the man himself, it is not difficult to judge how much his pupils and successors owed to him.
The works of GENTILE BELLINI, the elder brother of Giovanni, are of less importance, but of considerable interest, especially in view of his journey to Constantinople in 1479 at the request of the Sultan, whose portrait he painted there in the following year. A replica
of this portrait has been bequeathed to the National Gallery by Sir Henry Layard, and it is to be hoped that the difficulties raised by the Italian government as to its removal from Venice will shortly be overcome. The picture of S. Mark Preaching at Alexandria already mentioned as having been finished by Giovanni, is remarkable for the Oriental costumes of all the figures in it. Gentile's pictures are often ascribed to his brother; in two examples at the National Gallery (Nos. 808 and 1440) there is actually a false signature on a cartellino. In the latter instance Messrs Ludwig and Molmenti are still of opinion that the picture is the work of Giovanni.
VINCENZO CATENA (c. 1470-1530) is not known to have been a pupil of Bellini, but he began by so modelling his style upon him that one of his works in the National Gallery was until quite lately officially ascribed to him, namely the S. Jerome in his Study. Another, a later work, A Warrior Adoring the Infant Christ was similarly ascribed to Giorgione. This is a proof that Catena was very susceptible to various influences, and was "an artist of extraordinary suppleness of mind, never too old to learn or to appreciate new ideals and new sentiments." In a manner more his own is the Madonna with Four Saints in the Berlin Gallery (No. 19). The S. Jerome and the Warrior are among the most popular pictures in the National Gallery—partly perhaps on account of their supposed illustrious parentage, but by no means entirely. A painter who could so absorb the characteristics of two such masters must needs be a master himself.
CIMA DA CONEGLIANO, so called from his birthplace in Friuli—the rocky height of which serves as a background in some of his pictures—settled in Venice in 1490, when he was about thirty years old. The influence of Bellini may be seen in the temperamental as well as the technical qualities of his work, which is distinguished by sound drawing and proportion, fine and brilliant colour, as well as by sympathetic types of countenance. One of his best and earliest pictures is the S. John the Baptist with four other saints, in Santa Maria del Orto in Venice. Another is the Madonna with S. Jerome and S. Louis, now in the Vienna Gallery. A smaller but peculiarly attractive piece is the S. Anianus of Alexandria healing a shoemaker's wounded hand, at Berlin, distinguished for its beautiful clear colours and the life-like character of the heads.
ANDREA PREVITALI, born in Bergamo in 1480, came to Venice to study under Bellini, whom he succeeded in imitating with remarkable success. The Mystic Marriage of S. Catherine (No. 1409) in the National Gallery was formerly attributed to Bellini. If he had not the originality to carry the art any farther, his pictures are nevertheless a decided and very agreeable proof of the advance that was being made in it at the beginning of the sixteenth century, before the full splendour of Giorgione and Titian had unfolded.
MARCO BASAITI, though probably not a pupil of Bellini, nevertheless acquired many of his characteristics. The picture in the National Gallery known as The Madonna of the Meadow was until lately assigned to Bellini, and another of his, in the Giovanelli Palace at Venice, which is identical in technique, tone, and general effect with this one, is still so ascribed. Whether or not he learnt from Bellini, he was certainly an assistant to Alvise Vivarini, on whose death he completed the large altar-piece in the Church of S. Maria de Friari at Venice, representing S. Ambrose surrounded by Saints. His Christ on the Mount of Olives and The Calling of Zebedee, both dated 1510, are now in the Academy at Venice, and together with the Portrait of a Man, dated 1521, in the Bergamo Gallery, and The Assumption in S. Pietro Martire at Murano, may be considered his best performances.
More remote from Bellini, yet not so far as to be entirely free from his influence in some of their more important compositions, was the school formed by LAZZARO DI BASTIANI or SEBASTIANI, of which the chief ornament was Vittore Carpaccio, and among the lesser ones Giovanni Mansueti and Benedetto Diana. The history of this independent group of painters has only of late years been elucidated; Kugler, after a page devoted to Carpaccio, dismissed them with the remark that Mansueti and Bastiani were both pupils of Carpaccio, and that Benedetto Diana was "less distinguished." Our national collection was without any example until 1896, when Mansueti's Symbolic representation of the Crucifixion was purchased. In 1905 the National Art-Collections Fund secured Bastiani's Virgin and Child, and in 1910 Sir Claude Phillips presented Diana's Christ Blessing. Alas! that we are still without anything from the hand of Vittore Carpaccio. Seven portraits by Moroni do not fill a gap like this.
The name of Lazzaro de Bastiani first occurs in Venice as a witness to his brother's will in 1449, and as early as 1460 he was painting an altar-piece for the Church of San Samuele. Ten years later, the brothers of the Scuolo di San Marco ordered a picture of the Story of David from him, promising him the same payment as they gave to Jacobo Bellini, who had been working for them with his two sons Gentile and Giovanni. In 1474, another proof of his rank and repute as a painter is afforded by a letter from a gentleman in Constantinople, asking for a picture by him, but that Giovanni Bellini should paint it in the event of Bastiani being already dead. He was thus, it would seem, preferred to Bellini, though it will be remembered that five years later, when the Sultan expressed the wish that a distinguished portrait-painter should be sent him from Venice, it was Gentile Bellini who was nominated. All the same, Gentile was a portrait-painter, and Bastiani was not; and it is fairly evident that the latter was at least in the front rank. One of his best-known pictures the Vergine dai begli occhi in the Ducal Palace at Venice used to be attributed to Giovanni Bellini; but though he appears to have drawn inspiration for his larger and more important compositions from Jacobo Bellini, his style was chiefly developed through that of Giambono. His most important work is now in the Academy at Vienna—an altar-piece painted for the Church of Corpus Domini, Venice, S. Veneranda Enthroned. In the Imperial Gallery at Vienna are a Last Communion and Funeral of S. Girolamo. In the Academy at Venice are S. Anthony of Padua, seated between the branches of a walnut-tree, with Cardinal Bonaventura and Brother Leo on either side, a large picture of a Miracle of the Holy Cross, and a remarkable rendering of The Madonna Kneeling, the child being laid under an elaborate canopy. An Entombment in the Church of S. Antonino at Venice is reminiscent of Giovanni Bellini at his best.
In 1508, the name of VITTORE CARPACCIO occurs with that of Bastiani in connection with the frescoes of Giorgione upon the facade of the Fondaco de Tedeschi, about which there was a dispute. To Carpaccio we are indebted for the most vivid realization of the contemporary life of Venice; for although his subjects were nominally taken from sacred history or legend, they are treated in a thoroughly secular fashion, giving the clearest idea of the buildings, people, and costume of the Venice of his time, with the greatest variety and richest development. His object is not only to represent single events, but a complete scene, and while we observe this characteristic in one or two pictures by the Bellini, Carpaccio not only shows it much oftener, but carries it to a much fuller development—possibly influenced by the Netherlandish masters.
Many of his works are in the Academy at Venice; eight large pictures, painted between 1490 and 1495, represent the history of S. Ursula and the eleven thousand virgins. Such a wealth of charming material might have embarrassed a less capable painter, but "the monotonous incident which forms the groundwork of many of them," as Kugler coldly puts it, "is throughout varied and elevated by a free style of grouping and by happy moral allusions." Another series is that of the Miracles of the Holy Cross, among which may be especially noticed the cure of a man possessed by a devil; the scene is laid in the loggia of a Venetian palace, and is watched from below by a varied group of figures on the Canal and its banks. Larger and broader treatment may be seen in the Presentation in the Temple, painted in 1510, which is also in the Academy, and in the altar-piece of S. Vitale, dated 1514. This last brings Carpaccio into closer comparison with the later Venetian painters, being in the nature of a Santa Conversazione, where the holy personages are grouped in some definite relation to each other, and not independent figures.
PALMA VECCHIO (1480-1528), so called to distinguish him from Giacomo Palma the younger—Palma Giovane,—was so much influenced by Giorgione and Titian that his indebtedness to Bellini appears to have been comparatively slight. The beautiful Portrait of a Poet in the National Gallery has been attributed both to Giorgione and to Titian.
The number of pictures which are now permitted by the experts to be called Giorgione's is so small, that we may learn more about him as an influence on the work of other painters—especially Titian—than from the meagre materials available for his own biography. The only unquestioned examples of his work are three pictures at the Uffizi, The Trial of Moses, The Judgment of Solomon, and The Knight of Malta; the Venus at Dresden; The Three Philosophers at Vienna; and the famous Concert Champetre in the Louvre. But until the critics deprive him even of these, we are able to agree that "his capital achievement was the invention of the modern spirit of lyrical passion and romance in pictorial art, and his magical charm has never been equalled."
TITIAN occupies almost, if not quite, as important a place in the history of painting as does Shakespeare in that of literature. His fame, his popularity, the wide range as well as the immense quantity of his works, entitle him to be ranked with our poet, if only for the
enormous influence they have both exercised on posterity: and without carrying the parallel farther than the limits imposed by the difference of their circumstances and their method of expression, it may fairly be said that Titian, in painting, stands for us to-day much as Shakespeare stands for in letters. "Titian," says M. Caro Delvaille, "is the father of modern painting. As the blood of the patriarchs of old infused the veins of a whole race, so the genius of the most productive of painters was destined to infuse those of artists through all the ages even to the present day. He bequeathed, in his enormous oeuvre, a heritage in which generations of painters have participated."
Not only was he the father of modern painting, but he was himself the first modern painter, just as Shakespeare was, to all present intents and purposes, the first modern writer. Among a thousand readers of Shakespeare, there is possibly not more than one who has ever read a line of Chaucer, or who has ever heard of any of his other predecessors. So it is with Titian. To the connoisseur, Titian is one of the latest painters; to the public he is the earliest. "In certain of his portraits," we read in the National Gallery Catalogue, "he ranks with the supreme masters; in certain other aspects he is seen as the greatest academician, as perhaps he was the first."
As it happens, too, Titian stands in much the same relation to Giorgione as Shakespeare did to Marlowe. Giorgione was really the great innovator, and Giorgione died young, leaving Titian to carry on the work. It has always been supposed that Titian and Giorgione, like Marlowe and Shakespeare, were born within the same year; but in this respect the parallel is no longer admissible, as Mr Herbert Cook has shown to the verge of actual proof that the story of Titian being born in 1577, and having lived to be ninety-nine years old, is unworthy of acceptance. If this were merely a question of biography, it would not be worth dwelling upon; but as it seriously affects the whole study of early Venetian painting, it is necessary to point out that the probability, according to a critical study of all the evidence available, is that Titian was not born till 1488 or 1489, and was thus really the pupil rather than the contemporary of Giorgione, and therefore more slightly influenced by Giovanni Bellini than has been generally supposed.
Without going into all the evidence adduced by Mr Cook (Reviews and Appreciations, Heinemann, 1913) it is nevertheless pretty evident that in the account given by his friend and contemporary, Lodovico Dolce, published in 1557, we have the most authentic story of Titian's early years, and from this it is quite clear that Titian was considerably younger than Giorgione. "Being born at Cadore," he writes, "of honourable parents, he was sent, when a child of nine years old, by his father to Venice, to the house of his father's brother, in order that he might be put under some proper master to study painting; his father having perceived in him even at that tender age strong marks of genius towards the art.... His uncle directly carried the child to the house of Sebastanio, father of the gentilissimo Valerio and of Francesco Zuccati (distinguished masters of the art of mosaic, ...) to learn the principles of the art. From them he was removed to Gentile Bellini, brother of Giovanni, but much inferior to him, who at that time was at work with his brother in the Grand Council Chamber. But Titian, impelled by nature to greater excellence and perfection in his art, could not endure following the dry and laboured manner of Gentile, but designed with boldness and expedition. Whereupon Gentile told him he would make no progress in painting because he diverged so much from the old style. Thereupon Titian left the stupid Gentile and found means to attach himself to Giovanni Bellini; but not perfectly pleased with his manner, he chose Giorgio da Castel Franco. Titian, then, drawing and painting with Giorgione, as he was called, became in a short time so accomplished in art that when Giorgione was painting (in 1507-8) the facade of the Fondaco de'Tedeschi, or Exchange of the German merchants, which looks towards the Grand Canal, Titian was allotted the other side which faces the market place, being at the time scarcely twenty years old. Here he represented a Judith of wonderful design and colour, so remarkable indeed, that when the work came to be uncovered it was commonly thought to be the work of Giorgione, and all the latter's friends congratulated him (Giorgione) as being by far the best thing he had produced. Whereupon Giorgione, in great displeasure, replied that the work was from the hand of his pupil, who showed already how he could surpass his master and (what is more) Giorgione shut himself up for some days at home, as if in despair, seeing that a young (i.e. younger) man knew more than he did."
Again, in speaking of the famous altar-piece—the Assumption, now in the Academy at Venice—painted by Titian in 1516, Dolce mentions him twice as "giovinetto." "Not long afterwards he was commissioned to paint a large picture for the high altar of the Church of the Frate Minori, where Titian, quite a young man, painted in oil the Virgin ascending to Heaven.... This was the first public work which he painted in oil, and he did it in a very short time, and while still a young man."
Vasari's account of Titian's early years is substantially the same, but unfortunately opens with the statement that he was "born in the year 1480." This might easily have been a slip of the pen or a printer's mistake for 1488 or 1489, and subsequent passages in the life bear out this supposition. But partly because Titian was a Venetian and not a Florentine, and partly, no doubt, because he was still alive, and had been producing picture after picture for over sixty years at the time Vasari published his second edition in 1568, the whole account is so confused and inaccurate that its credit has been severely shaken by modern critics, with the result that it is hardly nowadays considered authentic in any respect. The following extracts, however, there seems no reason to question:——
"About the year 1507, Giorgione not being satisfied [with the old-fashioned methods of Bellini and others] began to give his works an unwonted softness and relief, painting them in a very beautiful manner." And a little later "Having seen the manner of Giorgione, Titian early resolved to abandon that of Gian Bellino, although well grounded therein. He now, therefore, devoted himself to this purpose, and in a short time so closely imitated Giorgione that his pictures were sometimes taken for those of this master, as will be related below. Increasing in age, judgment and facility of hand, our young artist executed numerous works in fresco.... At the time when he began to adopt the manner of Giorgione, being then not more than eighteen, he took the portrait of a gentleman of the Barberigo family, who was his friend, and this was considered very beautiful, the colouring being true and natural, the hair so distinctly painted that each one could be counted, as might also the stitches in a satin doublet painted in the same work; in a word, it was so well and carefully done that it would have been taken for a work of Giorgione if Titian had not written his name on the dark ground."
With this we may leave the question of Titian's birth date, and consider the exceptional interest attaching to the question of this Barberigo portrait. According to Mr. Cook, and also, under reserve, to several other eminent authorities, it is no other than the so-called Ariosto, which was purchased for the National Gallery in 1904. The chief difficulties in deciding the question are, first, whether it is possible that a youth of eighteen could have painted such a masterpiece, second, that the signature Titianus is supposed not to have been used by the artist before about 1520, and lastly, that the head, at any rate, is decidedly more in the manner of Giorgione than that of Titian. This last, of course, did not trouble Vasari, and his testimony is therefore all the more valuable; but all difficulties vanish if we accept Mr. Cook's theory that the portrait was begun by Giorgione in 1508, was left incomplete at his sudden death in 1510, and finished by Titian in 1520. That is to say, the head and general design is that of Giorgione, the marvellous finish of the sleeve and other parts that of Titian.
Of works left unfinished at a master's death and completed by a pupil there are numerous instances; the famous Bacchanal at Alnwick is one which takes us a step further in Titian's career. This was begun by Giovanni Bellini, and Titian was invited by the Duke of Ferrara, in 1516, to finish it. The landscape is entirely his. To complete the decoration of the apartment in which the picture was hung, he was called upon to paint two others of the same size, one the Triumph of Bacchus, or as it is usually called Bacchus and Ariadne (now in the National Gallery) and the other a similar subject, the Bacchanal, now in the Prado (No. 418, formerly 450).
Ridolfi, in his life of Titian characterises our picture as one to whose unparalleled merits he is inadequate to do justice; "There is," he says, "such a graceful expression in the figure of Ariadne, such beauty in the children—so strongly marked both in the looks and attitudes is the joyous character of the licentious votaries of Bacchus—the roundness and correct drawing of the man entwined with snakes, the magnificence of the sky and landscape, the sporting play of the leaves and branches of the most vivid tints, and the detailed herbage on the ground tending to enliven the scene, and the rich tone of colour throughout, form altogether such a whole that hardly any other work of Titian can stand in competition with it."
In the composition of the second picture, The Bacchanal at Madrid, a number of the votaries of Bacchus are assembled on the bank of a rivulet, flowing with red wine from a hill in the distance; some of them are distributing the liquor to their associates, while a nymph and two men are dancing. The nymph is supposed to be a portrait of Violante, Titan's mistress, as he has painted, in allusion to her name, a violet on her breast and his own name round her arm. Her light drapery is raised by the breeze, and discovers the beautiful form and morbidezza of her limbs. In the foreground Ariadne lies asleep, her head resting on a rich vase in place of a pillow.
Cumberland says that Raphael Mengs, who lived long at Madrid at the time when this picture was in the reception room of the New Palace, was of opinion that Titian's superior taste was nowhere more strikingly displayed, and remarks that he himself could never pass by it without surprise and admiration, more particularly excited by the beauty of the sleeping Ariadne in the foreground.
Respecting the merits of both pictures the testimony of Agostino Carracci should not be omitted; when he viewed them in the possession of the Duke of Ferrara he declared that he considered them the first in the world, and that no one could say he was acquainted with the most marvellous works of art without having seen them.
Commenting upon another picture of Titian's early period, Sir Joshua Reynolds delivers himself of the following criticisms on Titian as compared with Raphael, "It is to Titian that we must turn," he says, "to find excellence in regard to colour, and light and shade in the highest degree. He was both the first and the greatest master of this art; by a few strokes he knew how to mark the general image and character of whatever object he attempted, and produced by this alone a truer representation of nature than his master, Giovanni Bellini, or any of his predecessors, who finished every hair. His greatest object was to express the general colour, to preserve the masses of light and shade, and to give by opposition the idea of that solidity which is inseparable from natural objects....
"Raphael and Titian seemed to have looked at nature for different purposes; they both had the power of extending their view to the whole, but one looked only at the general effect as produced by form, the other as produced by colour. We cannot refuse Titian the merit of attending to the general form of the object, as well as colour; but his deficiency lay—a deficiency at least when he is compared with Raphael—in not possessing the power, like him, of correcting the form of his model by any general idea of beauty in his own mind. Of this his St. Sebastian with other Saints (in the Vatican) is a particular instance. This figure appears to be a most exact representation both of the form and colour of the model which he then happened to have before him, and has all the force of nature, and the colouring of flesh itself; but unluckily the model was of a bad form, especially the legs. Titian has with much care preserved these defects, as he has imitated the beauty and brilliancy of the colouring...."
Of the Sebastian, Vasari says very much the same as Reynolds. "He is nude," he writes, "and has been exactly copied from the life without the slightest admixture of art, no efforts for the sake of beauty have been sought in any part—trunk or limbs; all is as nature left it, so that it might seem to be a sort of cast from the life. It is nevertheless considered very fine, and the figure of our Lady with the infant in her arms, whom all the other figures are looking at, is also accounted most beautiful."
Two more of the pictures of Titian's earliest period are in the National Gallery—the Christ appearing to Mary Magdalen (No. 270), and the Holy Family (No. 4). The former is ascribed to about the year 1514, partly on the ground that the group of buildings in the landscape is identical, line for line, with that in the Dresden Venus painted by Giorgione but completed by Titian after his death. The same landscape also occurs in the beautiful little Cupid in the Vienna
Academy, and, as Mr Herbert Cook suggests, possibly represents some cherished spot in Titian's memory connected with his mountain home at Pieve di Cadore.
The Holy Family, above mentioned, is a most charming example of the sacra conversazione as developed by Titian from the somewhat formal and austere conception of Bellini and his contemporaries into something eminently characteristic of the secular side of his genius. The very titles of two of his most beautiful and most famous pictures of this sort proclaim the hold they have taken on the popular mind. The one is the Madonna of the Cherries, in the Vienna Gallery. The other is the Madonna with the Rabbit, in the Louvre. In our picture the distinguishing feature is the kneeling shepherd, with his little water-cask slung on his belt, who puts us at once in touch with the whole scene by the simple appeal to our common human experience. Raphael could move our religious feelings to revere the godhead in the child, but could seldom, like Titian, stir our human emotions and bring home to us that Christ was born on earth for our sakes.
If this particular characteristic of Titian were confined to the pastoral setting of these Holy Conversations, it might be taken as merely accidental, and without further significance than should be accorded to a youthful fancy. But in the wonderful Entombment, now in the Louvre, in which he displays "the full splendour of his early maturity," the human element is such an important factor in the presentment of the divine tragedy that even a painter, M. Caro-Delvaille, must postpone his description of the picture to sentences like these:—"Sur un ciel tourmente," he writes, in phrases which it is impossible to render adequately in English, "se profile le groupe tragique. Aucun geste superflu; le drame est interieur. La Douleur plane dans l'air alourdi du crepuscule, comme une aile fatale—Jesus est mort! Le grand cadavre livide, que les apotres angoisses soutiennent, n'a rien dans sa robustesse inerte de la depouille emaciee des Christs mystiques. Le fils de Dieu semble un patriarche douloureusement frappe par le decret d'en haut.
"Une aprete primitive, ou les larmes se cachent comme une faiblesse, communique a l'oeuvre un pathetique si poignant que le mystere de la mort s'etend jusqu'a nous.
"La Vierge et la Madeleine sont la. Elle, la Mere, doute de la realite, tant elle souffre! Son regard fixe sur le corps cheri, elle ne peut croire que tout est consomme. La pecheresse pitoyable la prend dans ses bras pour essayer de l'arracher a l'horreur de cette vision.
"Drame humain et divin! ne sont-ce point des fils qui ramenent le cadavre de leur pere a la poussiere? Tous ceux qui passerent par ces epreuves se souviennent de ce deuil qui semble se prolonger dans la nature entiere."
Titian's first period may be said to end in 1530, by which time he had completed the famous Peter Martyr, which was destroyed by fire in 1867. In 1530, too, Titian's wife died. This event of itself need not be supposed to have greatly influenced his career, as there is no evidence of her having appealed to his artistic nature as did his daughter Lavinia. As it happened, however, a more certain influence was nearly coincident with this event—the arrival in Venice of the notorious Aretine, who, chiefly as it appears, with an eye to business, entered into the most intimate relations with Titian. The accession of the sculptor
Sansovino to the comradeship earned for the group the name of the Triumvirate.
So far from Titian being corrupted by the society of Aretine, there is direct evidence in one of the poet's letters to him that he was not. "You must come to our feast to-night," he writes, "but I may as well warn you that you had better leave early, as I know how particular you are about certain things." Nor is there anything in the artist's works of this next period—which we may roughly date from 1530 to 1550, that betrays a more serious devotion to the sensual side of life than can be accounted for by the demands of the high and mighty patrons that Aretine was soon to find for him. As an artist he looked upon woman as a beautiful creature, as a man he most probably never troubled about her, or was troubled by her. There is no proof that any of his pictures are rightly called "Titian's mistress," and we may conclude that he was as good a husband and a father as was Rubens, who revelled in painting woman, or Velasquez, who seems to have frankly disliked it. Like Rowlandson, whom the general public only know as a caricaturist, but who when he once got away from London was the most pure minded and poetical artist, so Titian, when once dissociated from the demands of corrupt patrons, like Philip II., never reveals himself as having fallen under the influence of Aretine—if indeed at all. The Danae and the Venus and a Musician at the Prado are the only examples it is possible to cite—unless it be the Venus, to which popular opinion would hardly deny its place of honour in the Tribune at the Uffizi.
At the same time the difference in circumstances, the fuller, richer life that he must have led in these years of patronage and prosperity, accounts for a certain "shallowness and complacency" which distinguishes his work during this period as sharply from that which preceded as from that which followed it; and fine as is his accomplishment during these years, especially in portraiture, it includes fewer of those masterpieces which appeal to the heart as much as to the eye.
To 1538 belongs the large and beautiful picture of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary in the Temple, painted for the Scuola della Carita in Venice, which is now occupied by the Academy, where it still hangs, as is said, in its original place. It is twenty-two feet in length, and contains several portraits, among which are those of his daughter Lavinia (the Virgin, as is supposed), Andrea Franchescini, grand chancellor of Venice, in a scarlet robe; next him, in black, Lazzaro Crasso, a lawyer, and certain monks of the convent following them.
We now find Titian employed by the Duke of Urbino on some of the principal works of this period. Among these were the Uffizi Venus, said to be a portrait of the Duchess herself. The Girl in a Fur Mantle at Vienna, portraits of the Duke and of the Duchess (1537), and the so-called La Bella at the Uffizi. The so-called Duke of Norfolk at the Pitti, supposed to represent the young Duke Guidobaldo of Urbino. Also the Isabella d'Este at Vienna, and somewhat earlier, the Cardinal Ippolito in Hungarian dress, at the Pitti; and the Daughter of Robert Strozzi, at Berlin.
The large Ecce Homo in the Vienna Gallery, dated 1543, measuring 11 ft. 3 in. by 7 ft. 7 in. was for some years in London, and with better fortune might still be in this country if not in our national collection. It was one of the nineteen pictures by Titian in the wonderful collection of Rubens, which the Duke of Buckingham persuaded him to sell to him for a fabulous price. The collection was shipped to England in 1625, when the pictures were taken to York House in the Strand, and the statues and gems to Chelsea. In 1649 a portion of the collection was sold at Brussels, and the Ecce Homo was purchased there by the Archduke Leopold for his gallery at Prague, which now forms part of that at Vienna. The Earl of Arundel offered the Duke of Buckingham L7000 for it—an unheard of price, especially when we remember the greater value of money at that time.
With another masterpiece—fortunately still preserved in the Prado, though not entirely uninjured by fire—we may close the second period. This is the magnificent equestrian portrait of The Emperor Charles V. which was painted at Augsburg in 1548. A few years later the Emperor abdicated in favour of his egregious son, Philip II., of whom Titian painted three portraits in succession. The second of these, now in the Prado, has an especial interest for us, inasmuch as it was painted for the benefit or the enticement of Queen Mary before her marriage to Philip. As might be expected, it is a highly flattering likeness,—in white and gold, in half armour. To quote M. Caro-Delvaille, this king of auto da fes and sunken galleys is here nothing more than a gallant cavalier—neurasthenic but elegant. For England was also painted the Venus and Adonis, in 1554; but unfortunately the original is now in Madrid, and only a copy in our National Gallery. However, the remains of Philip are there too, and not in Westminster Abbey!
A copy of another famous picture painted by Titian for the Emperor Charles V. was also in the collection of the Duke of Buckingham, who probably brought it with him when he returned from his madcap expedition with Prince Charles to Madrid. It is described in his catalogue as "One great Piece of the Emperor Charles, a copy called Titian's Glory, being the principal in Spain, now in the Escurial." This was the great Paradise, or Apotheosis of Charles V. which Charles took with him into Spain at the time of his abdication and placed in the monastery of St. Juste, in Estramadura, to which he retired. After his death it was removed by Philip II. to Madrid.
Of the two versions of The Crowning with Thorns, the earlier one at the Louvre, painted in 1560, is more familiar to, and probably more popular with, the general public than the much later one at Munich painted in 1571. But for the real merits of the two we need not hesitate to accept M. Caro-Delvaille's judgment, since if he had any bias it would be in favour of his own country's treasure. The former he characterises as an incoherent composition, in which useless gesticulation diminishes the dramatic effect, while striving to force it; and adds that all the false romanticism of painting comes from this sort of theatrical pathos. Of the other he writes "It was the picture at the Louvre which shocked me with its violent declamation and its forced blows that never hit anything. But here at Munich a mystery so profound broods over the drama that the melodramatic element disappears. The scene becomes tragic, lamentable, hopelessly sad. The great artist with a brush that trembles in his aged hands paints but the sentiment of it, to exhale from his work like a plaintive sigh. The veil of death descends and spreads over life.... Titian might seem to have painted it as an offering to Rembrandt when he, too, should feel the approach of death."
Another of his latest pictures, the Adam and Eve in Paradise, is in the Prado (No. 429, formerly 456). This was copied, or one might almost say travestied, by Rubens when he was at Madrid in 1629, and his work was hung in the same room with it. As the colouring is of a lower tone than is usual with Titian, and the attitudes of the figures extremely simple and natural, the contrast is all the more marked, and was well expressed by Cumberland, who said that "when we contemplate Titian's picture of Adam and Eve we are convinced they never wore clothes; turn to the copy, and the same persons seem to have laid theirs aside."
A more generous comparison between these two painters is made by Reynolds in a note on du Fresnoy's poem on Painting respecting the qualities of regularity and uniformity. "An instance occurs to me where those two qualities are separately exhibited by two great painters, Rubens and Titian: the picture of Rubens is in the Church of S. Augustine at Antwerp, the subject (if that may be called a subject where no story is represented) is the Virgin and Infant Christ placed high in the picture on a pedestal with many saints about them and as many below them, with others on the steps to serve as a link to unite the upper and lower part of the picture. The composition of this picture is perfect in its kind; the artist has shown the greatest skill in composing and contrasting more than twenty figures without confusion and without crowding; the whole appearing as much animated and in motion as it is possible where nothing is to be done.
"The picture of Titian which we would oppose to this is in the Church of the S. Frari at Venice (the "Pesaro Madonna," where the two donors kneel below the Virgin enthroned). One peculiar character of this piece is grandeur and simplicity, which proceed in a great measure from the regularity of the composition, two of the principal figures being represented kneeling directly opposite to each other, and nearly in the same attitude. This is what few painters would have had the courage to venture; Rubens would certainly have rejected so unpicturesque a mode of composition had it occurred to him. Both these pictures are excellent in their kind, and may be said to characterize their respective authors. There is a bustle and animation in the work of Rubens, a quiet solemn majesty in that of Titian. The excellence of Rubens is the picturesque effect he produces; the superior merit of Titian is in the appearance of being above seeking after any such "artificial excellence."
The most important artist besides Titian who was a pupil of Giorgione was SEBASTIANO DEL PIOMBO, as he was called—his father's name was LUCIANI. But as two other notable influences determined his career, he is not to be taken as typical of the Venetian School in general or that of Giorgione in particular. Born in Venice about the year 1485, he first studied under Giovanni Bellini, as appears from the signature as well as from the style of a Pieta by him in the Layard collection, which we may hope soon to see in the National Gallery. Of his Giorgionesque period there is only one important picture known to us, the beautiful altar-piece in S. Giovanni Crisostomo in Venice, which is not far removed from the richness of Titian's earlier work. The picture represents the mild and dignified S. Chrysostom seated, reading aloud at a desk in an open hall; S. John the Baptist leaning on his cross is looking attentively at him; behind him are two male and on the left two female saints listening devoutly, and in the foreground the Virgin looking majestically out of the picture at the spectator—a splendid type of the full and grand Venetian ideal of female beauty of that time. The true expression of a Santa Conversazione could not be more worthily given than in the relation in which the listeners stand to the reader, and in glow of colour this work is not inferior to the best of Giorgione's or Titian's.
As early as 1510, however, he not only left Venice, but also his Venetian manner. He was invited to Rome by the rich banker and patron of the arts, Agostino Chigi, where he met Raphael, and with astonishing versatility succeeded as well in emulating the excellences of that master as he had those of Bellini and Giorgione. The half-length Daughter of Herodias bequeathed to the National Gallery by George Salting is dated 1510, and in 1512 he painted the famous Fornarina in the Uffizi, which until the middle of the last century was supposed to be a chef d'oeuvre of Raphael. To this period also belongs the S. John in the Desert, at the Louvre.
Within the next seven years a still mightier influence found him, that of Michelangelo, and how far he was capable of responding to it may be judged by our great Raising of Lazarus, painted at Rome in 1517-19 for Giulio de'Medici, afterwards Pope Clement VII., to be placed with Raphael's Transfiguration in the Cathedral of Narbonne. Both pictures were publicly exhibited in Rome, and by some people Sebastiano's was preferred to Raphael's. According to Waagen the whole composition was designed by Michelangelo, with whom Sebastiano had entered into the closest intimacy; and Kugler states that the group of Lazarus and those around him was actually drawn by the master. However that may be, we can hardly fail to see how entirely the Venetian influence is obscured by that of the great Florentine, and to recognise the extraordinary genius of a painter who could do something more than imitate from such masters as Bellini, Giorgione, Raphael and Michelangelo.
The last traces of the Vivarini influence are to be seen in the earlier works of LORENZO LOTTO(1480-1556), who was a pupil of Alvise, though his pictures after 1508, when he had left Venice, Treviso and Reccanti, where he had been employed, show the effect of his changed surroundings. To this date is assigned the Portrait of a Young Man, at Hampton Court. At Rome in 1509 he was painting with Raphael in the Vatican, and in his next dated work, the Entombment, at Jesi, the echoes of Raphael's Disputation and the School of Athens are clear. The Dresden Madonna and Child with S. John was probably painted at Bergamo in 1518, and the Madonna and Saints, lately bequeathed to the National Gallery, is dated 1521.
At Madrid is a picture by him of A Bride and Bridegroom dated 1523, to which year probably belongs the Family Group in the National Gallery. These are early instances of the comparatively rare inclusion of more than a single figure in a pure portrait. In our example the father and mother and two children are composed into a delightful picture, in which for once we may see the actual people of the time in something like their natural surroundings, instead of being posed, however effectively, to assist in the representation of some historic or legendary scene.
In 1527 Lotto was back again in Venice, and was probably influenced by Palma Vecchio when he painted the superb portrait of the sculptor Odoni, which is at Hampton Court. A little later the influence of Titian is more visible. Two other portraits are in our National Gallery, those of the Protonotary Juliano and of Agostino and Niccolo della Torre.
BONIFAZIO DI PITATI (1487-1553), sometimes called Bonifazio Veronese or Veneziano, was born at Verona, but studied in Venice under Palma Vecchio. The influence of his native city distinguishes his work in some degree from the pure Venetian, as it did that of the more famous Paolo in later years; but the atmosphere created by Giorgione was so strong as to cause Bonifazio's masterpiece (if we except the Dives and Lazarus at the Academy in Venice) to be attributed until quite lately to Giorgione. It is thus described by Kugler:—"A picture in the Brera in Milan, very deserving of notice, is perhaps one of Giorgione's most beautiful works; it is historic in subject, but romantic in conception. The subject is the finding of Moses; all the figures are in the rich costume of Giorgione's time. In the centre the princess sits under a tree, and looks with surprise at the child who is brought to her by a servant. The seneschal of the princess, with knights and ladies, stand around. On one side are seated two lovers on the grass, on the other side musicians and singers, pages with dogs, a dwarf with an ape, etc. It is a picture in which the highest earthly splendour and enjoyment are brought together, and the incident from Scripture only gives it a more pleasing interest. The costume, however inappropriate to the story, disturbs the effect as little as in other Venetian pictures of the same period, since it refers more to a poetic than to a mere historic truth, and the period itself was rich in poetry; its costume too assists the display of a romantic splendour. This picture, with all its glow of colour, is softer than the earlier works of the master, and reminds us of Titian...."
The beautiful Santa Conversazione in the National Gallery, again, which was formerly in the Casa Terzi at Bergamo, was there attributed to Palma Vecchio. Here the Virgin in a rose-coloured mantle is the centre of the composition, with the Child on her knee, whose foot the little S. John is bending to kiss. On the right is S. Catherine and on the left S. James the Less and S. Jerome. In the landscape are seen a shepherd lying beside his flock, while other shepherds are fleeing from a lion who has seized their dog. A copy of this composition is in the Academy at Venice.
Oddly enough it was a pupil of Bonifazio who employed the grand Venetian manner in the humbler and more commonplace walks of life, and neglecting alike the Sacra Conversazione and the pompous scenes of festivity, developed into the first Italian painter of genre. This was JACOPO DA PONTE, called from his birthplace BASSANO, who was working in Venice under Bonifazio as early as 1535. He afterwards returned to Bassano, and selecting those scenes in which he could most extensively introduce cottages, peasants, and animals, he connected them with events from sacred history or mythology. A peculiar feature by which his pictures may be known is the invariable and apparently intentional hiding of the feet of his figures, for which purpose sheep and cattle and household utensils are introduced. He confines himself to a bold, straightforward imitation of familiar objects, united, however, with pleasing composition, colour, and chiaroscuro. His colours, indeed, sparkle like gems, particularly the greens, in which he displays a brilliancy quite peculiar to himself. His lights are boldly infringed on the objects, and are seldom introduced except on prominent parts of the figures. In accordance with this treatment his handling is spirited and peculiar, somewhat in the manner of Rembrandt; and what on close inspection appears dark and confused, forms at a distance the very strength and magic of his colouring. The picture of the Good Samaritan in the National Gallery is a good example, and was formerly in the collection of Reynolds, who it is said always kept it in his studio. The Portrait of a Man (No. 173) is excelled by that of an Old Man at Berlin.