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part of the ornamentation. One looks first at the
exquisite workmanship ; and afterwards are noticed
the precious materials, which form a subordinate
part and do not interfere with the design. It is
almost as though a veil had been swept over the
whole building, both inside and out, bringing
together this wealth of colour and forming it 'into
a complete whole. It has the effect of a marvel-
lous glaze of a picture that has had a thin glaze
swept over it. Wherever you look, the Church
teems with colour ; but it seems to be piercing
through a veil. It is not vivid positive colour, but
colour breaking through a skin. In the East I



SCUOLA Dl SAN MARCO



ST. MARK'S 89

have seen millions of pounds' worth of jewels in
one heap, with the sun shining on them, and I was
overpowered with this wealth, I was inspired with
their costliness ; but St. Mark's does not affect you
at all in this way. Rich man and peasant are alike
in this respect: they are elevated and stimulated
hi that building, not because of its costliness, but
because of its extreme beauty. The technique is
marvellous, but not obvious : the moment you are
conscious of technique you may be sure that the
work is poor. You never wonder how St. Mark's
was built; and that is the highest tribute to the
marvellous arts which it expresses.



A QUIET WATERWAY



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ONE of the chief characteristics of the Venetian
school of painters, and one of the most attractive
to all art lovers, is their great appreciation of
colour. In most of their work colour seems to
be the chief motive. Pictures by Venetian
painters never suggest drawings. They strike
you not as having been coloured afterwards, but
as having been painted essentially for the colour.
One sees this throughout the whole school. And
in their paintings they do not go to extremes.
There is no exaggeration in their colouring. They
do not err, as do so many schools, either on the
foxy-red side or on the cold steely colouring. Un-
fortunately, much of the beautiful colouring of
these pictures is lost by age. One has to become
accustomed to that ugly brown skin which has
formed upon the surface before one can realise

98



94 VENICE

what great colourists these early Venetians really
were. The pictures somehow cause one to resent
oil as a medium. One realises how different they
must have looked when fresh from the easel, and
wishes that these great masters could have painted
with a medium more lasting as did the Chinese,
whose works are as young and fresh now as if
they had been painted yesterday: the years have
left no trace whatever : the simple colouring is the
same to-day as it was a hundred years ago. Many
of the earlier paintings, those of the Gothic
Venetians, the less-known men, are a good deal
better preserved. Their canvasses have not turned
black ; the glazings have not departed ; and there
is no smoky film upon them, as in the case of the
works of the great masters, such as Titian, Tintor-
etto, and Giovanni Bellini, men who came a hundred
years afterwards. It may very possibly be that
the pigment which painters used then was purer
and less adulterated. Certainly one sees in the
various schools all over the world that the older
the pictures are the better preserved they are.
Age never improves a picture unless, indeed,
it is an extremely bad one, when time serves as
a thin veil.

Undoubtedly these great colourists, the Venetians,



CANAL PIliULl



PAINTERS OF THE RENAISSANCE 95

influenced the various schools of painters all over the
world, and are still influencing them. Originally they
worked for the churches, and colour was used exactly
as music was used to appeal to the senses, to the
emotions : to influence the people, to teach them
biblical stories and parables. It also educated the
people to understand painting and to feel the need
of it in their daily lives.

At about this time the Renaissance began to
express itself, not only in poetry and other
literature, but also in paintings ; and it found
clearer utterance in Venice than elsewhere. The
conditions at this time were perfect for the
development of art. Venice at that period lent
herself to art. She was at peace with the whole
world, and she was prosperous. The people were
joyous, gay, and light-hearted. They longed for
everything that made life pleasant. Naturally,
they wanted colour. And Venice was not affected
by that wave of science which swept over the
rest of Italy. The Venetians were not at all
absorbed in literature and archaeology. They
wanted merely to be joyous. This was an ideal
atmosphere for the painter. Such a condition of
things could not but create a fine artistic period.
The painter is not concerned with science and



96 VENICE

learning, or should not be. Such a condition of
mind would result in feeble, academical work
in struggling to tell a story with his medium,
instead of producing a beautiful design. That is
partly why the Venetian school has had such a
strong influence on art, even until the present
day. The conditions were perfect for the develop-
ment of art, because the patrons were capable of
appreciating beautiful form and beautiful colour.
Because the public would have it, this new school
of painters appeared. The demand was created,
and the supply came.

There was undoubtedly great friction among the
painters of this period, exactly as there has been
lately with the modern impressionists and the
academic painters. Some of the old Venetians
resented the new school that was springing up ;
but they had eventually to bend and try to paint
in sympathy with the senses and emotion of their
patrons. You find this new mode of thought
expressed strongly even in the churches and in
the treatment of religious subjects. The old
ideals were altered. Men no longer painted
saints and Madonnas as mild, attenuated people.
The figures were lifelike and full of actuality.
The women were Venetian women of the period



PAINTERS OF THE RENAISSANCE 97

dressed in splendid robes and dignified; the men
were healthy, full-blooded, and joyous. Florence,
however, at this particular period was undergoing
quite a different mood. The Florentines preferred
to express themselves in poetry and in prose.
That was the language the masses understood.
Painting was not popular. There has always been
a literary atmosphere about Florence, and one
feels it there to this day; it is essentially the
city for the student.

When painting became so much a vogue in
Venice, painters began to try and perfect the art in
every possible way. They struggled for actuality.
Art began to develop in the direction of realism.
The Venetians wanted form and colour in their
pictures ; but they wanted also a suggestion of
distance and atmosphere. In those early pictures
you find that painters smeared their distance to
give it a blurred look. That was the beginning of
perspective. Painters of this period seem to have
been marvellously modern. They were quite in
the movement. There has never been any
attempt at harking back to earlier periods.

Venice was very wealthy at this time, and
Venetian people never missed an opportunity of

parading wealth. They loved glory where the

7



98 VENICE

State was concerned, and encouraged pageantry
by both land and sea. They loved to see Doge
and senators in their gorgeous robes, either on the
piazza or on the Grand Canal. Then there came
a demand for painted records of these processions
and ceremonials. All this was encouraged by
the State for political reasons. Pageantry enter-
tained the people, and at the same time made
them less inquisitive. Much better, these great
officials argued, that the people should be enjoying
things in this way than that they should begin to
inquire into the doings of the State. Gentile
Bellini and Carpaccio were the first pageant
painters of the period. Paolo Veronese, who came
much later, also loved pageantry, elevated it to
the height of serious art, and idealised prosaic
magnificence. He painted great banquets, and
combined ceremony, splendour, and worldliness
with childlike naturalness and simplicity.

First of all, as has been shown, it was the Church
that called for pictures to represent their saints
and to enforce biblical legends. Painting became
more and more popular. People became more
and more educated to understand painting, until
at last they wanted their domestic and social lives
depicted. Also they wanted to hang these pictures



OSMARIN CANAL



PAINTERS OF THE RENAISSANCE 99

in their homes. Pictures were neither so rare nor
so expensive in those days as they are now, and
people could afford to buy them even the lower
and the middle classes. Immediately there sprang
up painters who satisfied the demand. In those
days there were no academies and no salons wherein
artists fought to outdo one another as to the size
and eccentricity of their pictures ; there were no
vulgar struggles of that kind. Painters simply
supplied to the best of their ability the wants of
the people. Naturally, the public required small
pictures, suitable to the size of their houses.
Therefore, they needed gay and beautiful colour,
and pictures in which the subjects did not obtrude
themselves forcibly. Thus, in the natural course of
events pageantry found less favour, and pictures
of social and domestic life found more. Religious
subjects were rather deserted. By the aid of books
people could learn all the stories of the Bible.
Besides, they were not at that period in a devotional
or contrite mood. They were too happy and full
of life to feel any pressing need for religion.

Painting took much the same position with the
Venetians as music has with us now. The fashion
for triumphal marches and the clashing of cymbals
in processional pictures had died out, and the vogue



100 VENICE

of symphonies and sonatas had come in. No one
at that time seemed quite capable of satisfying the
public taste. Carpaccio, whose subtle yet brilliant
colouring would have exactly suited it, never
undertook these subjects. Giovanni Bellini at-
tempted them; but his style was too severe for
the gaiety of the period.

However, there was not long to wait. Soon
appeared a man who told the public what they
wanted and gave it to them. He swept away con-
ventions and revolutionised art all over the world.
He was a genius Giorgione. Pupil of Bellini
and Carpaccio, he combined the qualities of both.
When he was quite a youth painters all over the
world followed his methods. Curiously enough,
there are not a dozen of this great master's works
preserved at the present day. The bulk of them
were frescoes which long ago disappeared. The
few that remain are quite enough to make one
realise what a great master he was. The picture
which most appeals to me is an altar-piece of the
Virgin and Child at Castelfranco. It is painted
in the pure Giorgione spirit. St. George in armour
is at one side, resting on a spear which seems
to be coming right out of the picture ; while
on the other side there is a monk, and in the



PAINTERS OF THE RENAISSANCE 101

background are a banner of rich brocade and a
small landscape.

The Renaissance, the rejuvenation of art, seems
to have slowly developed until at length it cul-
minated in Giorgione. He was the man who
opened the door, the one great modern genius of
his period, whose influence remains and is felt to
this day. Velasquez would never have been known
but for Giorgione. Imagine this young man with
his new ideas and his sweeps of golden colouring
suddenly appearing in a studio full of men, all
painting in the correct severe style established at
the period. Such a man must needs influence all
his fellows. Even Giovanni Bellini, the Watts of
his day, acknowledged the young man's genius, and
almost unconsciously began to mingle Giorgione's
style with his own. We cannot realise what they
meant at that period these new ideas of Giorgione.
He created just as much of a "furore" as when
Benvenuto Cellini, in his sculpture, allowed a limb
to hang over the edge of a pedestal. He needed
this to complete his design. Since then almost
everyone that has modelled has hung a limb over a
pedestal. But Benvenuto Cellini started this new
era. So, in much the same sort of way, did
Giorgione. He cut away from convention, and



102 VENICE

introduced landscape as backgrounds to his figure
subjects. He was the first to get actuality and
movement in the arrangement of drapery. The
Venetian public had long been waiting, though un-
consciously, for this work; and Giorgione was so
well in touch with the needs of the people that the
moment he gave them what they wanted they
would take nothing else.

In the work of Giorgione the Renaissance finds
its most genuine expression. It is the Renaissance
at its height. Both Giorgione and Titian were
village boys brought to Venice by their parents and
placed under the care of Giovanni Bellini to learn
art. They must have been of very much the same
age. It is interesting to watch the career of these
boys the two different natures the impulsiveness
of the one and the plodding perseverance of the
other. Giorgione shot like a meteor early and
bright into the world of art, scattering the clouds
in the firmament, bold, crowding the work and the
pleasure of a lifetime in a few short years. His
work was a delight to him, and life itself was full
of everything that was beautiful. He was sur-
rounded always by a multitude of admiring com-
rades, imitating him and urging him on. Giorgione
was ever restless and impetuous by nature. When



A 8OTTO POBTICO



PAINTERS OF THE RENAISSANCE 103

commissions flagged and he had no particular work
in hand, he took to painting the outside of his own
house. He cared not a whit for convention. He
followed his own tastes and his own feelings. He
converted his home into a glow of crimson and
gold, great forms starting up along the walls,
sweet cherub boys, fables of Greece and Rome,
a dazzling confusion of brilliant tints and images.
Think how this palace must have appeared reflected
in the waters of the Canal ! Unfortunately, the
sun and the wind fought with this masterly canvas,
conquered, and bore all these beautiful things
away. Indeed, many of Giorgione's works were
frescoes, and the sea ah* swept away much of the
glory of his life. His career was brief but gay, fiill
of work and full of colour. This impetuous painter
died in the very heyday of his success. Some say
he died of grief at being deserted by a lady whom
he loved ; others that he caught the plague.

Of what a different nature was Titian ! He
studied hi the same bottega as Giorgione, and was
brought up under much the same conditions. But
he was a patient worker, absorbing the knowledge
of everyone about him, ever learning and experi-
menting; never completing. He did not think
of striking off on a new line, of executing bold and



104 VENICE

original work. He wanted to master not one side
of painting but all sides. He waited until his
knowledge should be complete before he declared
himself, before he really accomplished anything.
He absorbed the new principles of his comrade
Giorgione, as he absorbed everything else that was
good, with unerring instinct and steady power.
Titian was never led away in any one direction.
He was always open to any new suggestion. As
it happened, it was just as well that Titian worked
thus at his leisure, and Giorgione with haste and
fever. Titian had ninety-nine years to live ; Gior-
gione had but thirty-four. There is an interesting
anecdote told by Vasari with regard to these two
young men. They were both at work on the
painting of a large building, the Fondaco dei
Tedeschi; Titian painting the wall facing the
street, and Giorgione the side towards the canal.
Several gentlemen, not knowing which was the
particular work of either artist, went one day to
inspect the building, and declared that the wall
facing the Merceria far excelled in beauty that of
the river front. Giorgione was so indignant at this
slight that he declared that he would neither see
nor speak to Titian again.

Titian does not seem to have been very much



PAINTERS OF THE RENAISSANCE 105

appreciated by his patrons at the beginning of
his career. He inspired no affection. He was
acknowledged as the greatest of all the young
painters ; but the Republic, it would seem, was
never very proud of the man who did her so much
credit and added so greatly to her fame. Even
although the noise of his genius was echoed all
over the world, although the great Emperor
himself stooped to pick up his brush, declaring
that a Titian might well be served by a Caesar,
although Charles the Fifth sat to him repeatedly,
and maintained that he was the only painter whom
he would care to honour, the Venetians do not
seem to have been greatly enamoured of him.
Perhaps it was that they missed the soul, the
purity and grace and devotion, of the pictures of
Bellini and Carpaccio. Certainly, as far as one
can judge, he did not have a prepossessing nature.
He was shifty in his dealings with his patrons and
unfaithful in his promises. He seems to have
belonged to a corrupt and luxurious society.
Pietro Aretino had a very bad influence on Titian.
He taught him to intrigue, to flatter, to betray.
Aretino was a base-born adventurer for whom no
historian seems to have a good word. He was,

however, a man of wit and dazzling cleverness,

TA



106 VENICE

with a touch of real genius. Aretino corresponded
with all the most cultured men of his time, and
he had the power of making those whom he chose
famous. It was he who introduced Titian to
Charles the Fifth.

Titian's pictures were much more saleable in
foreign courts than in his own country. Abroad
they did not seem to have the lack of soul which
the Venetians so greatly deplored. It was the old
case of the prophet having no honour in his own
country. Certainly in the art of portraiture Titian
has never been surpassed. At that period he had
the field completely to himself. Nothing could
have been more magnificent than Titian's portraits.
They help to record the history of the age. It
was in Titian's power to confer upon his subjects
the splendour that they loved, handing them down
to posterity as heroes and learned persons. His
men were all noble, worthy to be senators and
emperors, no coxcombs or foolish gallants. Titian
was more at home in pictures of this kind than
in religious subjects. His Madonnas are without
significance ; his Holy Families give no message
of blessing to the world,

In the prime of his life he moved from his
workshops to a noble and luxurious palace in San



PAINTERS OFTHE RENAISSANCE 107

Cassiano, facing the wide lagoon and the islands.
All trace of it has disappeared, and homes of the
poor cover the garden where the best company of
Venice was once entertained. It is said that Titian
gave the gayest parties and suppers that he enter-
tained the most regal guests. Nevertheless,
although made a knight and a count, and a
favourite at most of the courts in Europe, he was
greatly disliked by the Venetian Signoria, who in
the midst of his famous supper-parties called upon
him to demand that he should execute a certain
work for which he had received the money long
before. He seems to have been exceedingly grasp-
ing a strange trait in the character of a painter.
One sees throughout his correspondence, until the
end of his life, a certain desire and demand for
money. Undoubtedly he often painted merely for
money alone, turning out a sacred picture one day
and a Venus the next with equal impartiality.
Anything, it was said, could have been got out of
Titian for money. The Venetians never loved
Titian's works, though foreign princes adored them.
He seems to have laboured, until the end of his
life, more from love of gain than from necessity.
He was buried at the Frari, carried thither in great
haste by order of the Signoria, for it was at the



108 VENICE

time of the plague, when other victims were taken
to the outlying islands and put in the earth
unnamed.

Somehow, in reading the life of Titian one is
brought right away to the twentieth century.
Here is the painter with the attendant journalist,
Pietro Aretino, the boomer. Aretino was a
journalist, the first. He took Titian in hand and
" ran " him for all he was worth. Had it not been
for this system of booming, Titian would probably
not have been well known during his lifetime. In
the Academy of the Fine Arts one can trace by
his pictures a splendid historical record of Titian's
life, and can see plainly the changes in popular
feeling and their effect upon his work. For very
many years he lived and painted constantly, and
then was killed by the plague !

There is a picture painted by him when he was
fourteen years of age a picture which contains all
the qualities, in the germ, of his later work : marvel-
lous architecture, pomp, yet great simplicity and
luminous colour. Here also is the last picture he
ever painted at the age of ninety-nine. Think of
the interval between the two ! It is sombre, pious.
There is something pathetic about it. This great
painter, whose work showed such fury, audacity,



PAINTERS OF THE RENAISSANCE 109

vehemence, the man who had always the sun on
his palette was now painting mildly, carefully,
obviously with the shadow of approaching death
upon him.

A marvellous picture by Titian hangs in the
Academy of the Fine Arts. It is considered to
be one of his finest pictures the masterpiece of all
his masterpieces the eye of the peacock, as it were.
This picture was neglected for many years, hidden
away in an obscure portion of a church, and covered
with a thick layer of cobwebs and dust. The
custodian had almost forgotten the subject of the
picture and the name of the painter. One day a
certain Count Cicogna happened to visit the church.
Being a great connoisseur and lover of art, he
noticed this picture, and could not resist moistening
his ringer and rubbing it over a portion of the
canvas. To his amazement, this portion emerged
young and fresh, and as highly coloured as when it
left the painter's hands a picture bearing upon it
the unmistakable stamp of Titian's genius ! The
delight of the Count can be imagined. He
suggested to the custodian, with great care and
tact, that he would present to the church a bran-
new glossy picture, very large, of some religious
subject ; and mentioned hi a casual way that they



110 VENICE

might give him the dilapidated old picture as a
slight return. This was the Assunta. It was
painted for the church of the Frari. Fra Marco
Jerman, the head of the convent, ordered it at
his own expense. Many a time when the work
was in progress he and all the ignorant brethren
visited the painter's studio and criticised his picture,
grumbling and shaking their heads, and wondering
whether it would be good enough to be accepted,
whether it would be sneered at when uncovered
before all Venice. They undoubtedly thought
that they had done a rash thing in engaging him.
Think of the agony of Titian, hindered by these
ignorant men, being forced to explain elaborately
that the figures were not too large, that they must
needs be in proportion to the space 1 It was not
until the envoy of the Emperor had seen the
picture and declared it to be a masterpiece, offering
a large sum of money for its purchase, that the
Frari understood its value, and decided that, as
the buying and selling of pictures was not in their
profession, they had better keep it.

Tintoretto painted, according to the popular
feeling of his period, for the good of mankind.
This we certainly owe to the Renaissance the
desire to benefit mankind, and not only men



BRIDGE NEAR THE PALAZZO LABIA



PAINTERS OFTHE RENAISSANCE 111

individually. Tintoretto felt this strongly. One
sees not only the effect of this new era of thought
in his work : one sees also human life at the base
of it. Tintoretto worked for the good of mankind,
and his work throbs with humanity. There was
atmosphere, reality, in it. He was, it is true, a
pupil of Titian ; but it was Michael Angelo whose
works had the greatest attraction for him. He
loved Angelo's overwhelming power and gigantic
force. Tintoretto's pictures seem to possess much
of the glowing colour of Titian ; but he paid greater
attention to chiaroscuro. He seems to have had
the power of lowering the tone of a sky to suit his
composition of light and shade. His conception of
the human form was colossal. His work showed a


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