of the Venetian High Renaissance.

The Venetian painter Giorgione was born in 1485 in the town of Castelfranco Veneto, just outside of Venice. Very little is known about this artist and no more than six paintings have been entirely attributed to him. He served his apprenticeship in the workshop of Giovanni Bellini and met Titian who was also apprenticed to Bellini.

Most of the information that we have about his life comes from the writings of the art historian Giorgio Vasari. Vasari had a tendency to embellish his accounts of the artist’s lives in his biographies. Given that he was writing years after the fact, his waxing lyrical about the artist's gentle manner, excellent lute playing and fine singing voice may have been given more weight by Vasari’s exuberant style of writing.

What is clear is that Giorgione did acquire a reputation for surpassing the work of Gentile and Giovanni Bellini, he did admire and learn from Leonardo’s work (as suggested by Vasari). Venetian painting had evolved, it now included new visions, with the landscape as subject matter in its own right.

One of the works definitely attributed to him is the "Madonna and Saints" of 1503.

Madonna and saints by Giorgione

Madonna and Saints. (left) (w)

This is a very calm composition, painted with very little drawing, note the contrast of the warm red robe against the Madonna's cool green dress.

Giorgione, self portraitself portrait?

The artist was a distinguished and charming person and also a great lover of music (Vasari). He was also becoming recognized for his painting abilities in or around 1502 when he was about twenty-five years old.

 His painting "The Tempest" was reputed to be the first landscape of Western painting and was completed in 1508. 

The Tempest by Giorgione

The Tempest. (w)

The Old Woman by Giorgione c. 1500/1510

The Old Woman. c1500/10, Accademia, Venice.

The artist painted this over 500 years ago and yet this image of an old woman could be from any era, a universal portrayal of old age.

The scroll reads; “with time” (“col tempo”) what a painting this is!

Giorgione's Three Philosophers.

Three Philosophers. c. 1500/1510.

Once again the landscape is a prominent feature of the artist's work.

"The Concert Champêtre" (or Pastoral Concert) is a prime example of the difficulty in the attribution of his work. This painting has been attributed to both Giorgione and later Titian.

The Concert Champetre c.1510

The Concert Champêtre (w)

The Sleeping Venus c.1510

Sleeping Venus (w)

It is clear that Titian did have a hand in finishing some of Giorgione's paintings after his premature death in 1510. The "Sleeping Venus" was almost certainly completed by Titian and the pose was copied by him in one of his later paintings.

The great artist died, probably of the plague, in 1510 but his art conveyed a feeling of light and air with his trees, figures, and clouds set within nature. His landscapes are part of the whole composition and not just there to support his human subjects, and this had a lasting influence on future generations of artists.