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Who is... Giorgione Barbarelli?


Giorgione Barbarelli was born in 1478 in Castelfranco and was a fellow student with Titian under the Venetian master Giovanni Bellini. While details of his life are sketchy, there is no doubt about his contribution and influence on European art.

His original name was probably Giorgio and he was also known as Zorgo or Zorgi da Castelfranco. Giorgione means big George and he has also been referred to as stout George. All agree that he was a large handsome man with an attractive presence. He also was musically skilled on the lute and had a very good voice.

Since he did not sign or date any of his works, only 16 of his works including the Castelfranco Altarpiece, Three Philosophers and The Tempest have been definitely credited to him. He died at the age of 34 of plague (tradition says he died of heartbreak when his ladylove proved him false) but in his short life, he changed the way one looked at paintings forever.


Giorgione is credited with two major innovations — the landscape as a standalone unit and the female nude. Till then, landscape scenes took their inspiration from the Bible, allegory or classical myth. It is with paintings like The Tempest that the landscape came to its own as an imaginative work.

Giorgione's Sleeping Venus introduces the concept of the nude as the principal subject. The use of light — soft and hazy — was revolutionary and luminescent. The warm colours and rich shadows had light filtering through a transparent gaze. He painted in tempera and then glazed in oil. Giorgione refused to make preparatory paintings — he composed directly on canvas for a more atmospheric rendering and striking colour.

He was a major innovator. His style, a fusion of forms — Raphaelesque ideal of beauty and Michelangeloesque concept of form — was liberating. He discarded detail for breadth and boldness. He was hailed as the "joyous herald of the Renaissance," and was a source of inspiration to masters including Rembrandt, Titian and Peter Paul Rubens.

MINI ANTHIKAD-CHHIBBER

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