( Originally Published 1955 )
One of the great painters of the Venetian High Renaissance about whom perhaps less is actually known than any artist of comparable stature. Born in Castelfranco, he probably studied, together with Titian, under Giovanni Bellini in Venice. From the records it is known that he worked with Titian on the decorations of the exterior of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, which no longer exists except in the vague suggestions of Zanetti's eighteenth-century etchings. In the sixteenth-century record of Marcantonio Michiel's Anonimo Moreelliano, sixteen works by Giorgione are listed, of which four are identified and traditionally accepted-The Virgin of Castelfranco (c.1504, Castelfranco), the so-called Three Philosophers (c.1505, Vienna), the Giovanelli landscape, called Tempest (c.1505, Venice Academy), and the Sleeping Venus (c.1510, Dresden) probably finished by Titian. Among the other works that have been attributed to him, the best known are the Fete Champetre (Louvre), the Concert (Pitti Palace), and the Judgment of Solomon (private collection, England). Characteristic of all but the Castelfranco Madonna is a problematic subject matter; in all there is a poetic, romantic, musical mood, a unity of figures and landscape, and a rich local color in warm tonality and beautiful combination. He was a creative genius whose conceptions displaced the Quattrocento style of Bellini and affected a whole generation of Venetian painters (1505-20)-Titian, Lotto, Palma Vecchio, and Sebastiano del Piombo-and subsequently spread throughout much of sixteenth-century.