by GIORGIONE (Venetian School)
WHEN the merchants of Venice had sampled the pleasures of self-glorification,
they indulged the art of painting, and it flourished as no art had flourished
It abandoned the guild for the dealer, spreading from the church to the
schools, and from the palace to the private house; it ceased to be the servant
of architecture and circulated in the form of the easel picture;
it appeared as
portraiture, pageantry, legend, and pastorals-anything that was happy and
voluptuous and untouched by the harsher realities-it shone in the naked
bosom of Venice like a cluster of jewels.
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The name of Giorgione rings with the sound of gold; his art charms us with
the golden gleams of magic.
This young Venetian-he died in early man
hood-relieved painting of its archaic shackles, and with no anxieties over the
naked body, painted with a freedom of expression that has influenced all sub
One of his indisputable masterpieces is the Concert Cham
petre, a landscape with figures: at the left, a large nude woman holds a crystal
jug over the mouth of a well; at the right, a seated nude of the same generous
proportions fingers a shepherd’s pipe; in the center a young courtier, splen
didly clad, strums a lute while his companion in sylvan garb looks on serenely.
This literal description signifies nothing save the illogical and unrealistic
nature of the picture-not in the environs of Venice or anywhere else did
young ladies roam the countryside in a state of undress. But the work does not
offend our sense of fitness, nor is anyone conscious of its representational in
The Concert Chamoetre is called the Pastoral Symphony because the har
mony of light and color and form seems to affect us like a musical composition.
A glowing envelope of light and air drifts over the scene binding the figures
to the landscape, and the color is embedded in the forms-in the golden nudes,
the red costume of the lute player, the light that breaks among the trees, the
faint blue hills, and the streak of clouds.
In the Pastoral Symphony, Giorgione
has perpetuated the spirit of youth so typical of the Venetian Renaissance.
The spirit of youth is not dead-it never dies; it is present in varying degrees in
every human being, but with Giorgione it was the whole of life, and he gave
to it a perfection of expression, a unity of form and mood, which no other
painter, unless it he Renoir, has ever approached.