Venice Academy - Room X - Sala Dei Bonifazi
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
ACCORDING to Berenson, Cariani has at least. one canvas in Room 10, the portrait of a blond-haired man in full face, with reddish beard and moustache, black clothes, white shirt, black greatcoat lined with fur, and a black cap. His left hand is gloved, his right bare, carrying its glove and resting on a pedestal on which is the date MDXXVI. According to Morelli, Cariani had great gifts as a portrait-painter, and this, though not equal to some of his portraits, is sufficiently characteristic to give a not wholly inadequate idea of his ability.
With the exception of the Holy Family, already described, in Room 7, all of the works by Palma Vecchio owned by the Academy are in the Sala dei Bonifazi. Of these the Peter Enthroned is possibly the best known.
On a raised throne of coloured marble slabs sits Peter in full face, holding on his left knee the open Scriptures, in which he is pointing out a passage with his right forefinger. His head is tipped sidewise, his eyes are slightly downcast, his mouth under its moustache and beard has fallen into mournful curves, and his whole expression is one of melancholy introspection. Behind him is a flat red drapery held by an olive-branch which apparently suspends itself across a background of sky. At each side and slightly in front of the throne stands a saint, John the Baptist on the left, and Paul opposite. John is in a tunic of skins, with a mantle thrown over one shoulder. In his left hand he holds his tall, slender cross of reeds, about which is attached a scroll bearing a Latin inscription, while with his right he points to the lamb lying at the base of the throne. The model-ling and construction of this figure show a marvellous blending of vigour and delicacy, both carried to their fullest expression in the intent, mobile face with its smiling eyes and tender mouth. St. Paul, though less of a psychologic revelation, has a substantial and firm dignity of mien and an indomitableness of poise scarcely less successfully indicated, Behind him are seen St. Titian of Oderzo and St. Justina, and back of John the Baptist are St. Mark and St. Augustine. The two women are very beautiful, with great sweetness of expression joined to a spirituality not too frequently seen in Palma's women. As a whole, the composition is one of power, pathos, and charm, with a depth of feeling not so far below the wonderful Barbara. In colour it is glowing, golden, with a skilfully treated chiaroscuro and fine arrangement of draperies.
Christ and the Daughter of the Woman of Canaan has been much injured by restoration, and one at least of the disciples, he on the extreme right, has been almost entirely repainted. It is an oblong panel, showing Jesus standing in the midst of his disciples, his hand raised blessing the young woman who, supported by her mother, kneels before him. The figures are mostly half-length, and the hands of Jesus and his followers are very nearly on a level, straight across the can-vas. Yet so well-arranged are they in pose and so varied in character, and so full of life and action is the scene, that there is no feeling of monotony or lack of balance in the composition. All of the disciples, with possibly one exception, are represented as men considerably beyond youth, several of them white-headed and bald. No two are alike, however ; each one is depicted with the individuality and vigour and precise characterization of actual portraiture. Christ is the least satisfactory of them all, for though his face shows sweetness, sympathy, and purity, it is deficient in strength, purpose, and real spirituality. Perhaps the most excellent bit of characterization about him is his left hand drawing his heavy robes about his loins. The fine lines of the wrist, the delicate shadows marking the long, slender fingers, the combined strength and grace in the tension of the grasp, would be splendid for Titian himself.
Not less remarkable are the two women at the left. The daughter is kneeling, her lifted face in profile, her eyes full of trouble, her clasping hands and her entire attitude expressing agonized pleading. It is in the mother, however, that Palma showed himself greatest. She stands with her hands on her daughter's shoulders, her head, with its white veil that falls about her neck and breast, raised beseechingly to the Master. Her mouth is open, and she is evidently telling her sorrows to the listening one. This is no fine Venetian society woman. In the strained cords at her neck, in her contracted brows, in her searching, begging eyes, Palma shows the throbbing heart o,f motherhood pleading for her child. That face alone would prove the height Palma could reach, and would be sufficient evidence that he was no mere follower of Titian and Giorgione. The colour of the picture, though hurt by repainting and cleaning, is clear, brilliant, and full of light.
The Portrait of a Woman has been credited to Palma Vecchio, but may be, as the official catalogue states, by Cariani. It is a half-length portrait of a fleshy, fair-haired woman, turned three-quarters to the left, the background a green cur-tain at the left and a landscape at the right. Her thick, puffed light hair comes on to her neck, which is bare as far as the heavy white chemisette gathered about her breast above her red gown. The soft, smooth handling, the rather immobile ex-pression, the eyes that, though large and open, seem to say little, suggest Palma as the painter rather than Cariani, especially as the latter almost always idealized his portraits of women sitters.
The Assumption is thought to be an early work of Palma, if it be his at all. The Madonna, in a rose-coloured robe and blue mantle, is rising into the sky, with all about her a choir of angels playing on musical instruments. Her feet seem to rest on one of the winged messengers, her draperies are flying, her arm outstretched, her head bent sidewise. Below, on the ground gazing up with varying expressions of surprise, are the apostles. In the distance on a hill is a castle, and running down the path from it to join his companions, St. Thomas.
The attribution of this picture is doubtful. The freedom and naturalism of draperies seem to hint of the hand of some modern painter, and the variety and movement of gesture do not recall Palma so much as a later Renaissance artist. The faces have not great depth of expression, but the composition is skilful, the figures full of life and power, and the handling, in spite of much repainting, vigorous and free.
A painter, who out of Italy is scarcely known, is represented here by several canvases, one of which, at least, deserves to rank with many of the best works of the greatest Venetians. This is the St. Lorenzo Giustiniani by Pordenone, a man who in his time was a not unworthy rival of Titian him-self.
Giovanni Antonio da Pordenone was born in 1483, and died in 1538. He imitated Giorgione in the early part of his career, and afterward came under the influence of Correggio, Titian, Raphael, and Michelangelo, acquiring, say Crowe and Cavalcaselle, " something from each of these masters without rising altogether to their level." His works are to be found in many churches and public buildings in Pordenone, in Udine, Conegliano, Treviso, and Cremona. All have been much spoiled, some are actually covered with white-wash. It is as a fresco-painter that he is greatest. Kugler says of him that " power of drawing and foreshortening, energetic action, warmth and breadth of colour, grand management of light, freedom of hand and dignity of conception all combine to place Pordenone in this walk of art (as a painter of fresco) on a level with his most famous contemporaries." His work in this field left him apparently little time for oil-painting, and most of what he did accomplish in large canvases and altar-pieces is not up to his greatest achievements in fresco. In 1528 he went to Venice, where he became one of the most noted painters of his day. It has been claimed that Titian was so unfriendly that the younger painter always went armed to protect himself from any assaults that Titian might direct. Though such bitter animosity as this would indicate is extremely unlikely, it seems nevertheless to be true with Pordenone as with Tintoretto that the great man of Cadore had little appreciation either of them or of their works. In the beginning of Pordenone's career, however, it is a well-authenticated fact that Titian gave him unstinted praise for his work, — but it was work which was not executed in Venice.
On the whole Pordenone seems to have suffered from the hands of the art critics. Even when they acknowledge his power as a draughtsman, his brilliancy and charm as a colourist, his strength and originality as a painter of portraits, they al-ways assert emphatically that after all he never equals Titian. And this is usually stated in such a way that the really extraordinary talents of the man are allowed only half a chance for appreciation. Until one has actually seen his greatest works, one is very apt to think of Pordenone as a mere second-rate imitator of the greatest masters. But it is well to remember that it is always one as great as Titian with whom Pordenone is compared. That mere fact is tremendously significant of the real and indisputable heights which he reached.
Of the four works by him in the Academy the St. Lorenzo Giustiniani with St. John the Baptist and Other Saints is universally considered his masterpiece in oil-painting.
Standing on a pedestal in front of a semidomed arch with mosaic ornamentation is St. Lorenzo, the first Patriarch of Venice. He is in a white surplice, his blue cap fitting closely about his head over his ears. In his left hand he holds a large, richly bound and clasped book, while his right is lifted in blessing. On each side of the pedestal, with their heads bent toward the Patriarch, are two figures, bonneted in blue like their leader ; and slightly more forward to the right is St. Bernard of Siena, carrying a thick book. Little of these three can be seen except their heads. Standing in front of one of the columns at the left of the arch is St. Augustine, in rich canonicals with mitre and crozier. He is in profile, his face lifted questioningly to Lorenzo, while he points outward with his right forefinger. In front of him, in his monkish robes, kneels St. Francis, his hands that show the stigmata gesticulating nervously while he apparently converses in some perturbation with St. John the Baptist, who is opposite him, next St. Bernard. The Baptist is nude except for the furry skin that comes over one shoulder and partly covers his back and hips. He is leaning slightly forward, his left foot resting on a bit of carved marble, his left hand holding a book, on which is a little white lamb. His right hand is slightly lifted as if even while offering the lamb to St. Francis he is about to interrupt that saint's eager, nervous remarks.
One of the chief criticisms brought against this picture is the lack of any intellectual connection between the various members making the group of saints. There is no centre of interest, the critics have said, and no real life to the Santa Conversazione, which it is supposed to illustrate. It seems a rather puerile contention. Many of the so-called Holy Conversations of the Venetian painters show little or no intellectual or emotional connection between the figures brought more or less peremptorily together. If they make well-connected groups from a purely technical, compositional point of view, that is generally all that can be expected. But here there is certainly more than skilled massing, or clever management of figures in different positions. There certainly is a decided centre of interest. It does not take much reading into the picture, surely, to see that the discussion which is going on between St. Francis and St. John is the very thing which makes the group homogeneous. St. Augustine, in his turn, is calling the Patriarch's attention to the two so earnestly discussing, while all the others are either listening, or watching St. Lorenzo for orders. As for St. Lorenzo himself, he it is who brings the differing, various minds together, for over all he has lifted his hand in benediction. It is as if he were standing for both Church and State, guarding safely each and all, whatever differences of opinion might exist.
But whether the picture may or may not contain any ethical or spiritual meaning has really little to do with it as a product of the painter's art. As a painting pure and simple must it stand or fall. And as a painting there are not many works in the Academy that equal it, fewer still that surpass it. Seen even among the masterpieces of Venetian art the colour scheme of this Pordenone is positively enthralling in its richness, its luminosity, its brilliance of contrasted tones, its whole glorious radiance. St. John has been rightly condemned as being far too gigantic for the rest of the figures of the composition. But who has ever better depicted beautiful, firm, full white flesh? Who has ever modelled with lighter, subtler, more imperceptible touches, such rounded planes? And if the construction of that well-knit, muscular, beautiful if huge figure is not up to Florentine standards, at least there are few Venetians that could better it. Great as is the colour appeal of the picture, still more remarkable is it for its fulness of life. Every figure in it has the variety, the strength, the individuality, the intensity, of actual life. Those heads are as living, as real, as knowable as the doctors in Rembrandt's Lesson in Anatomy. Life itself, it seems, could not make them more human, more spiritedly or more spiritually real. John, as is quite proper, is by far the most beautiful type. So beautiful, indeed, are the smooth brow, the deep, questioning eyes, the finely curved nose, the soft yet firm lips, that one wonders if the hand that created him might not have given the world a Christ face worthy of its history.
But if John is esthetically the most satisfying and physically the most dominating, it is St. Lorenzo himself who is intellectually the most supreme. There is no physical beauty in the drawn, tense lines of that narrow, pinched face, in the piercing, searching gleams of those sad eyes, in the tired but rigid determination of those thin, pressed lips.
But there is mighty force, iron will, compelling power, and a spirit weary unto death. With the forehead of a seer and the chin of a man of action he overcomes as all such do by the mere weight of his personality. And the more you look, the more you are certain that the old sacristan of the Madonna dell' Orto is right. If that is not Dante, who else could it be?
Not less real, if portraying less extraordinary personalities, are the others. The argumentative, insistent, oblivious-to-everything-but-his-own-opinions St. Francis; the dreaming, ascetic St Bernard; the questioning, plainspoken, direct St. Augustine, — all are expressed with a surety, a divination, that marks their creator one of the great portrait-painters of the world.
The Madonna del Carmelo, also by Pordenone, in this room, has been greatly damaged, and perhaps partly because of its condition has not received half the attention it deserves. Another reason for its neglect doubtless lies in its subject. The Madonna sheltering worshippers under her robes was a theme often used by the primitives, and the very nature of it was rather contrary to the spirit of the later Renaissance that required a more natural grouping, a placing of figures in surroundings which would at least bear some relation to every-day existence. Whatever the reason for the neglect, the picture is deserving of far better treat-ment.
It was purchased by Canova in Rome, and adorned his chapel at Possagno. The Academy came into possession of it by exchange.
The composition shows the Virgin standing on a pedestal against the clouds, her arms outstretched, her wide blue mantle held up by angels. Two saints, " Beato " Angelo and " Beata" Simon Stock, are at her sides, both dressed in monk's garb. Members of the family of the Ottoboni are below, on each side, at the left five men, at the right a beautifully dressed woman and a little boy. In the centre, in a gallery that is lower than the foreground, is a monk, only half-visible, looking up in ecstatic prayer. The immediate foreground is occupied by the heads of the family, a man and a woman.
There is none of the exaggeration of gesture here, of which Pordenone is sometimes guilty, nor is there any disproportion in the relative size of the figures. The whole composition is restrained, dignified, and remarkably graceful. Morelli re-marks of it that " the portraits contained in this picture of some of the Ottoboni of Pordenone, the family for whom Giovanni Antonio executed this fine work in 1526, are worthy in my estimation to rank with the best portraits of all times."
Pordenone's Portrait of a Woman, also in this room, has, like the Ottoboni Madonna, been sadly repainted. Some of the noticeable Palmesque traits in it may be due to this restoration process. It is a portrait of a young, fair-haired woman, with square-cut, low, décolleté waist of black, and a blue and yellow headdress of most elaborate design. Her shoulders are wide and full, and her short neck is in line much like the type usual with Palma. She has large eyes, regular features, and is rather insipid in expression. The modelling, firmness of touch, and characterization make this a striking portrait and show Pordenone's skill when he chose to depict single heads.
The Bonifazio pictures are all in Room 10, and it is hardly an exaggeration to say that nowhere else in the Academy does the visitor feel himself so steeped in a perfect splendour of colour. If in no other room, he realizes at least here the glory of Venetian painting. Before he has had time to analyze the pictures to see what types, what sort of subject, composition, or treatment these canvases hold, he is fairly carried off his feet by their mere radiance. There is an alluring softness to the glowing tones, a something subtle but penetrating that seems to enwrap the senses like a mysterious, haunting, Oriental perfume. After he has caught his breath, as it were, he begins, perhaps, to feel that this very transcendence of colour may be in the nature of a magic spell, rendering him oblivious to the weaknesses and faults of the canvases. For, it is generally true, as critics have remorselessly pointed out, Bonifazio was neither original in conception nor yet in execution. Nor did he ever create one type that is wholly his. And, though the ensemble is. almost always charming and the details sometimes of positively extraordinary beauty, it is in the main simply truth that that higher something which does not even have to be searched for in the works of Raphael, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Bellini, Titian, and Tintoretto, is not to be found with him at all. It is a truth, however, that in looking at such a picture as the Rich Man's Feast, for instance, one neither remembers, or, remembering, believes !
In general, Bonifazio's pictures may be said to be an amplification of the Holy Conversations of Palma Vecchio. They represent groups of fashionably attired Venetian men and women, seated under the trees in palace parks or gardens, on ter-races or balconies, engaged in the idle pursuits of the day. To these scenes of contemporary life he usually tacks on some Biblical title, again following the custom of the day. The incongruity of title, subject, and treatment bothered him no more than his public. Ease of composition, graceful balance of masses, well-understood construction of the human body and of tonal relations, natural, could-be-no-other-way manner of grouping, pleasing, at times even dignified and elevated types, a solidity and firmness of handling, — these are the attributes almost as 'universal in the best works of Bonifazio, or of the Bonifazi, as is the wonderful colour which plays over all.
It is necessary to say " of the Bonifazi," for it is not yet certain whether there may not have been at least three of this family. For years Bonifazio was considered to represent but one painter, and to him, consequently, the many canvases signed by that name were attributed. Then more modern criticism appeared to prove that there were, as has been said, at least three of this same name. Morelli suggests that there may even have been four, and insists that they differ considerably in ability. The elder two are believed to have been born in Verona, and hence the appellation Bonifazio Veronese. Of these two, Morelli says that one, presumably the elder, was " an artist of great talent, the other a mere imitator." The third Bonifazio; it is supposed, may have been a son of one of these, and possibly he was born in Venice, thus acquiring the distinguishing mark of Bonifazio Veneziano. This last painter, say the critics, was working as late as 1579, while works of the earlier bear dates as far back as 1530. This youngest ranks far below both the older ones in talent. The confusion resulting from lack of definite knowledge about the three has mixed their works inextricably. To the layman it might seem an easy matter to assign the best works to Bonifazio I., the next in merit to Bonifazio II., and those of least value to the youngest, Bonifazio III., or Bonifazio Veneziano, as he is called. This, however, seems beyond the powers of the critics. Scarcely two of them agree as to the authorship of most of the pictures.
The latest criticism has chosen a simpler way out of the difficulty. In the last official catalogue the entire point of view is changed. According to Professor Pietro Paoletti di Oswaldo, there was after all only one Bonifazio, and to him are given all the pictures under that name in the Academy. This is apparently following Dr. Gustave Ludwig's classification, for that German critic has recently brought forward evidence which to him seems conclusive proof of this assertion. According to Molmenti, who quotes Doctor Ludwig's opinion, there was a very mediocre painter, Bonifazio Pasini of Verona, who never left his native town. That another, the Bonifazio Pitati, also of Verona, but unrelated to the first, came to Venice, and among other works decorated the palace of the Camerlenghi, and that finally Antonio Palma, who was heir and nephew to Bonifazio Pitati, and father of Jacopo Palma Giovane, was the very mediocre painter who has been confounded with the third Bonifazio.
When noted critics so entirely disagree, there seems no safe path for the uninitiated to follow. It is certainly easier to bunch all the disputed works together and label them under the one name. But as there is still some doubt whether a later exploration of archives may not upset Doctor Ludwig's conclusions, it seems desirable not wholly to ignore the position taken by Moschini, Bernasconi, Morelli, and others, that there may have been three Bonifazi, the first two brothers, or at least living at the same time, the last much younger.
Whichever view is taken, the Parable of the Rich Man is universally considered the masterpiece of this Veronese Venetian. It represents the loggia and courtyard of a palace, where are gathered about a table the rich man and two women, a group of musicians, and a negro dwarf. On the right of the marble pillars which centralize this group is the kneeling beggar called Lazarus. At the left are two servants, and beyond, in the loggia and court, other servants and retainers of the house. In the distance is a view of trees, hills, an arbour, and a burning house, this last supposed to hint of the final destruction of the rich man and his possessions.
It is often said that if the composition had been cut at the sides marked by the two forward pillars it would gain in coherency, and would hang together much more firmly. This may reasonably be doubted. The unevenness of the spaces outside of these columns brings the two young women, she who is singing to her guitar and she who is listening so sadly, into the centre of the picture; which, it may be conceded, is, from a purely technical point of view, exactly what should be done. For it is not so much the overfed, dissipated host, nor yet the insipid woman beside him, about whom centres the real interest of the picture. They, in a way, are quite as unimportant as the beggar outside, whom Bonifazio, for strictly commercial reasons, named Lazarus.
The host sits at the table between the two women, who have usually been called courtesans. He is looking at the older, sitting at the left, her head in profile, showing the lines of her full, rich throat and shoulders. One hand is in her lap, one at her bosom. Her colouring is positively luscious in its rich, melting tones of creamy white and rose, heightened and made more enticing by her gorgeous velvet robe and puffed satin sleeves, with the bit of lace showing at her breast. Her fascination lies wholly in her colouring, however, for her insufficient nose, rather phlegmatic if sensual mouth and chin prevent even the languishing look she is bestowing upon Monsieur Dives from being over-captivating. Dives apparently feels this equally, for while he is returning her glance, he has tenderly placed his hand over the younger woman's lying on the table beside him. She is of very different calibre from her companion. Sitting in full face, she has turned and dropped her head on to her left hand, the elbow of which rests on her left knee. Her eyes have slightly fallen, and she is looking at the singing woman, but without seeing her. A melancholy that is marvellously appealing has settled over her beautiful features, and if she is the courtesan that she is called, Morelli is probably right when he says she is " thinking remorse-fully of the days of her innocence." From mere outward appearance, however, there is nothing to indicate that these days of innocence are passed. The delicate, clear-cut lines of chin, mouth, and brow show no suggestion of sensuality. Mournful, or indulging in some mournful thought, she certainly is. But, if one were guessing unguided by guide or critic, she might be lamenting a strictly legal union with the man beside her, or merely regretting the fate that compels the other lovely young girl to sing for her living. What she is, however, or even what Bonifazio intended her to represent is, after all, of more literary than pictorial interest. Without a word of explanation she exists as one of the loveliest creations of Bonifazio's brush, — and it is a brush famous for its beautiful women.
Scarcely less attractive, though of not quite so high a type, is the singing girl. Like the other two women, her blond hair is parted simply over her forehead, brought down behind her ears, and then bound over her head in braids, and like them, too, she wears the square, low-cut bodice, showing the exquisite curves of her neck and throat. She is in front of the table, sitting evidently on a low stool, reading her music from the book held up before her by the negro boy. Beside her kneels the 'cellist, and back of them is a third member of their party, a dark-haired and bearded man. These three are rendered with a faithfulness that makes each one seem like an exact portrait, one of the chief characteristics, indeed, of all of Bonifazio's figures. Beyond, the man with the falcon, the group of attendants, the court, and even the dog drinking at the fountain, are not less real, though purposely subordinated to those in the foreground.
In this scene, as in most of Bonifazio's, the resonant, deep red tone, of which he was so fond, is one of the key-notes of the harmony of colour. There is a richness, a mellowness, as well as a marvellous transparent quality to this colour as he uses it that seems to dominate the whole scene. It is as if some of its warmth could be felt even in the palest flesh-tones, as if it shed its lustre into the very air and was partly responsible for the penetrating luminosity of the atmosphere.
It is said, by the way, that Dives is supposed to represent Henry VIII. of England, and the lady at his side, Anne Boleyn.
The Judgment of Solomon has been considered the joint work of the two elder Bonifazi. It is a tall, upright panel, showing on the right of the composition, upon a marble terrace of a palace, Solomon enthroned, gorgeously attired in a blue robe, with golden brocaded mantle. In his left hand he holds his sceptre, while his right is extended to the mothers, who kneel before him. At the foot of the throne is the child, its arms seized by an executioner who, with his sword drawn, is about to carry out the sentence of death. Soldiers and attendants stand about in rich Oriental costume, with others in the background. The distance is a sombre, mountainous landscape.
The brilliant clothes of the two mothers, the richness of the Orientals, and the royal garb of Solomon on his marble throne give this a jewel-like splendour of colour. Solomon himself is dis-played as a youthful, almost girlish figure, with a face in which sweetness of expression instead of force of character is perceived. The two mothers are drawn with much spirit and sympathy, the agony and terror of the faces vividly and not too melodramatically indicated.
There are several Adorations of the Magi in this room, which have usually been given to Bonifazio II. According to the new catalogue one of them alone is now credited to Bonifazio, the others being considered only partly his. In all there is much beautiful colour, and in all the mother is a very sweet and tender-faced young woman, lacking somewhat perhaps in marked nobility of expression. The Christ-child is painted with a charm and delicacy of colour that at times recall the brush of Titian. All the canvases have been so tremendously repainted that it is difficult to tell which part is original and which modern restoration.
The Woman Taken in Adultery Morelli claims to be the work of the two elder Bonifazi. Others ascribe it to Bonifazio II. The types of head are similar to those in the Judgment of Solomon, and there is, as Morelli observes, much the same strength and brilliancy of colouring. It shows Christ seated at the left in a vestibule, beyond which may be seen a view of San Marco's Piazzetta, giving a corner of the Sansovino Library and the Loggetta of the Campanile. About him are the Pharisees, and before him stands the accused, dressed in blue, with a white veil, her hands bound by a cord, the ends held by a soldier kneeling on his shield. Soldiers, women, and children are about.
Critics differ as to the value of this picture, some praising it for its beautiful colour, some, like Sir Charles Eastlake, calling it " a crowded composition, . . . possessing little or no technical excellence."
The Massacre of the Innocents, considered apart from its subject, can call for only the greatest praise. It is magnificent in its tonal qualities. The harmony and richness of its colours, the exquisite blending and contrasting of tints, make it a veritable colour symphony. If the subject is legitimate in art at all, then, also, it must be acknowledged that Bonifazio has treated it as such a subject should be treated. He has been condemned for the heartlessness displayed by the officer under whose direction the slaughter is taking place. But certainly to have dowered him with any feeling would bring a false note into the composition. He could not have been sitting there overseeing the bloody job had he been capable of appreciating the terrible nature of his task.
The slaughter is depicted taking place in the middle distance, and it is as full of horror as Bonifazio properly could make it. The foreground is mostly taken by the old man, who is evidently in charge of the officers and soldiers deployed for the work.
Jesus and Philip and Other Apostles has been attributed to both Lorenzo Lotto and Palma Vecchio, and Mr. Berenson does not include it among the works of Bonifazio. The Academy catalogue calls it a joint production of Bonifazio and Palma Vecchio. The dark background and the heavy depth of the shadows are unlike Bonifazio, but the types are in general agreed to be representative of him rather than of Palma.
It is a panel about seven feet long by five wide, with life-size figures. At the left stands Jesus, in full face, dressed in a pale rose-coloured robe and deep blue mantle. One hand rests lightly on his breast, with the other he is pointing heavenward, as if calling for celestial witness to his words. At the right, in profile, facing him, is Philip, in green tunic and pale yellow pallium, one hand held out as though expostulating. Behind these two, whose full robes and mantles practically fill the entire lower part of the composition, can be seen the heads and shoulders of various other disciples. Among them are the youthful, girlish John, the aging, rugged Peter, the younger James. The modelling of the figures is both firm and solid, and the construction and drawing show a freedom and surety not always felt in Venetian art. The colouring, except for some rather leaden shadows, is rich and effective, and all the faces are differentiated with the skill usual with the Bonifazi. Jesus has a serious, earnest expression not without real spirituality in his beautiful dark eyes. Even more successful is Philip, his rugged frame bent forward in a certain rude intensity that is softened by the fine, delicately lined, anxious face.
Christ Enthroned, Morelli claims to have probably been executed by Bonifazio II., which indicates that he did not find it quite up to the best work of the Bonifazi, but that he thought it too good to give to the youngest of the trio.
Jesus, seated on a throne placed on a terrace, is shown in the act of blessing. One foot is on a globe representing the terrestrial sphere, and on his knee is an open book. A delightful baby angel sits on the platform at his feet strumming his guitar, St. Mark kneels on the tiled floor near by, and St. Dominick is standing just behind him, on the right of the throne. King David, St. Louis of France, and St. Justina are at the left. In the distance behind a parapet, seen through three semi-circular arches, is a view of distant country and mountains. At the right and left, about stepping on to the terrace, are groups of the faithful, mostly in priestly robes.
The Madonna in Glory with Five Saints, ac-cording again to Morelli, is by Bonifazio III., and shows, he says, the strong influence Titian had over the younger Bonifazio in his later years. The colouring and modelling of the figures, as well as the character of the types, all recall Titian.
Above the more important of the Bonifazio pictures are many panels, each holding two or three saints. According to Lafenestre, Morelli, and other modern critics, these are all by Bonifazio III., painted in his youth, and showing the influence of the older members of the family before he began to imitate Titian so strenuously. They are pictures painted generally for some Venetian in official life, and displaying usually his coat of arms and initials on a shield at the base of the composition. All of them are solidly painted, full of rarely beautiful colour, often of excellent characterization, and occasionally evincing an unexpected height of expression.
Far more noted even than the Feast at the Rich Man's House is the great canvas known as the Fisherman Returning the Ring of St. Mark to the Doge, by Paris Bordone, which hangs in this same room.
Paris Bordone, who, because of the fame of this picture, is unfairly titled the painter of one picture, was born at Treviso in 1495, and died in 1570. His education was strictly Venetian, but he was no mere imitator of that school. He shows the influence of both Giorgione and Titian, and it is believed that he entered the latter's studio when he was about fourteen. Many of his works have disappeared or been wrongly ascribed to Titian and others, but there are still a number in different European cities which plainly indicate his ability, though, of course, there is none of them which begins to approach this famous one of the Academy. Morelli calls him a " noble, attractive and refined artist, and a splendid colourist, though of unequal merit and at times superficial." " He is remarkable," notes another, " for a delicate rosy colour in his flesh, and for the purple, crimson and shot-tints of his draperies, which are usually in small and crumpled folds." Of the picture here, Burckhardt says, " It is the most beautifully painted ceremonial picture that exists anywhere," and Molmenti exclaims that the scene is as if bathed in an atmosphere couleur de rose." It is the only picture in the Academy which is at all worthy of him, for the Paradise, a disagreeably coloured, conventionally designed panel with the Apostles, Saints, and Martyrs below and the Holy Tribunal above is so poor that it seems incredible that it can be by the same man.
The Fisherman Returning the Ring to the Doge illustrates the story of a fisherman who, one terrible night of storm in February, 1340, lay in his gondola fast to the landing near San Marco. Here he was accosted by a venerable man from the church, and offered a large sum to be taken over to San Giorgio Maggiore. Once there, a young man joined them, and then they desired the fisherman to row across to San Niccolo di Lido. In spite of the fearful waves that, the nearer they got to the open sea, grew worse and worse, the fisherman succeeded in reaching the Lido church. Hardly had they arrived than a third man, old and bent, met the other two, and also entered the boat. In-stead of turning homewards, they commanded the boatman to take them out between the forts at the mouth of the harbour. With the waves dashing mountain high they at length reached the Adriatic, where they saw approaching a boat manned with devils on their way to destroy Venice. The three passengers made the sign of the cross, whereupon the storm cleared and the devils vanished. Then they went back, and each man landed where he had embarked. As the last one got out at San Marco, he told the boatman that he was the Evangelist Mark, and patron saint of Venice, that the other two were St. George and St. Nicholas. Giving the fisherman a ring from his finger, he told him to show that to the doge and he would receive the reward which they had promised him. So, next morning the old fellow took the ring to the doge and told his story. As the very ring he gave them was kept locked up in the sacristy of San Marco, and as no bolts or bars had been tampered with, they knew that no one less mighty than the saint himself could have taken it. Whereby they perceived that a great miracle had been enacted. The fisherman was given a pension for life, and the populace took part in a solemn mass to express their gratitude for the city's deliverance.
Bordone chose for the subject of his picture the moment of the fisherman's appearance before the doge. On the right, enthroned under a marble-pillared loggia of most exquisite Renaissance de-sign, sits the doge surrounded by the members of the council. Rarest Eastern rugs are spread over the steps at their feet; the carving of the cornices and capitals and the recesses behind their heads and on the sides of the raised platform is fairly dreamlike in its delicate intricacy. Led by a chamberlain the fisherman is mounting the tiled steps before the doge, the ring held out in his trembling hand. Another chamberlain stands below recommending him to the attention of the council, and back of him is a crowd of Venetian nobles. In front, one foot holding the gondola drawn up to the steps, half-sits and half-lies the fisherman's boy, studying with wide-eyed curiosity the splendour spread out before him. Beyond, through the arches of the loggia, marble buildings of fairylike lightness and grace of structure lead out into the streets of an idealized but characteristic Venice. The mere magnificence of this scene is almost indescribable. Nothing less glowing than the painting itself can give any adequate idea of its mere colour scheme. It conveys little impression to dwell upon the mellow, soft-toned marbles, carvings, and ornamentation, alone quite enough to prove the fancy and originality of any architect, the velvety sheen of those rugs, fit for an Oriental despot, and the gorgeous brocades of the princes and senators. As no adjectives can convey the sense of splendour of these glowing masses of colour, so nothing less than the picture itself can give an idea of the brilliance of the Venetian sky behind and over the dazzling marble palaces, nor of the wonderful atmosphere that envelops the whole scene, softening edges, making distant darkness translucent, throwing a glamour as real as it is poetic. Equally masterly is the chiaroscuro. The focusing of the light upon the doge and the kneeling fisherman against their dark backgrounds is hardly less skilful than the way in which the deepest shadows mass over the pillars and under the vaulting, leading out of the piazza, beyond which the sun plays full over the courts and walls. Adding to, completing the effect of all this wonderful colour, atmosphere, and chiaroscuro are the admirable balance and massing, the feeling of movement and life in the composition, and the knowledge and power displayed in each of the many figures introduced into the scene. If in a certain sense all this can be called technical achievement, something else than merely trained ability is responsible for the individualistic treatment of those dignitaries, every one as intimate an expression of character as if he made one of a portrait group. Something besides the education of the schools made it possible for Bordone to show the hesitancy, the faltering, joined to the sturdy purpose in that half-clad fisherman, so sure of his rights, and yet so abashed by all the regal pomp before him that he needs the encouraging assistance of the kindly chamberlains. And what brush that was not held by a poet's hand could ever have portrayed that beautiful boy of the people on the steps below? No, — it is truly called the most beautiful ceremonial picture in existence, but it is much more than that phrase usually is understood to mean. It is, in spite of the miraculous story it is supposed to illustrate, just a living page from the life of the Venice of Bordone's day, and as such shows the pathos and the glory, the magnificence and the poverty, the reality and the seeming, as only a seer, a painter with a poet's eye, could express it.
Two panels in Room 10, by Moretto da Brescia, do not give much idea of that painter's real ability. One of St. Peter shows the saint about two-thirds the size of life, standing in full face, his head turned three-quarters to the right. His robe is blue, mantle dark crimson lined with a greenish colour. In his left hand he holds a book, in his right the keys of his office. Back of him is a wooded landscape. His head has much dignity and nobleness, and the drapery, though heavy, is well-handled in its full, deep folds.
St. John the Baptist is about the same size, his figure turned three-quarters to the left, his face in full view. His robe is dark, with a crimson mantle thrown over his right shoulder. In his right hand he carries a cross and a scroll, with the left he points upward. This is hardly as satisfactory as the other. The colour is cold, and though the saint's figure is carefully studied, the flesh-tones are not true in key, and the face is not impressive.
Alessandro Bonvincino is far better known under the name of Moretto da Brescia. He was born probably near 1498 at Rovato, not far from Brescia, and is said by some authorities to have died in 1555. He is usually supposed to have based his style largely upon the works of Palma and Titian, but Morelli says that he never lost the Brescian character. His colour is generally silvery, and though the drawing and dignity of his figures recall Titian, his palette is very unlike that of the man of Cadore. His later works are greatly superior to his earlier. Kugler says of him that " his compositions are occasionally of the highest order," and that in the Feast of the Pharisee in S. Maria della Pietà in Venice " he here unites the harmony, force and brilliance of Venice and Brescia, and anticipates the pomp of dress and gorgeousness of Paul Veronese." Other splendid works by him are in the National Gallery and in the Belvedere, but the best examples of his art are still to be found in and near Brescia. He was especially noted as a portrait-painter, and is represented in most of the public galleries. In his early career he worked with Romanino on the frescoes in S. Giovanni Evangelista, and again later in Verona. Vasari gives him great praise, especially for his skill in painting silks, satins, brocades, and wools. At times he has a Raphaelesque feeling for grace of line and composition, noted by critics, especially in the Slaughter of the Innocents in S. Giovanni. His art was at its highest expression in 1530, shown most notably, perhaps, in his Majesty of St. Margaret in San Francesco of Brescia.
The Saviour between St. Peter and St. John, by Marconi, has a solemnity of expression that, as M. Charles Blanc says, is a trifle monotonous. The chief beauty of the picture lies, as usual with Marconi, in its fine colour effect, an effect achieved not only by the rich-toned robes, but by the landscape background where trees mass against the evening sky across which soft clouds are floating.
Jesus stands in the centre of the picture, his right hand lifted in benediction. On the right is John the Baptist, bearing a cross over his shoulder, with a lamb at his feet. Peter is at the left, holding the keys and a book. The figures are almost life-size. Peter's face is dignified, and is the best piece of character work in the composition.
Three pictures here by Schiavone, Jesus En-chained, Jesus before Pilate, and the Circumcision, are conventionally treated compositions, of little value except as fair examples of Schiavone's abilities as a colourist. His real name was Andrea Meldola, Schiavone being given him in honour of his birthplace, Sebenico, where he was born of very humble parents in 1552. Living as he did when Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese were at their height, he had great difficulty in getting enough to do, and all his life he was wretchedly poor, dying in 1 582 without leaving enough to bury him. That he was appreciated by his artist contemporaries is proved by the remark ascribed to Tintoretto that every painter ought to keep in his studio a picture by Schiavone to study its beautiful colour. As a draughtsman Schiavone was sadly deficient. His construction of figures and his pro-portions are almost always incorrect. In his engravings these faults are extremely noticeable. In his paintings he has such depth and richness of colour, such life and transparence in the tones, his lights are so glowing, his shadows so luminous, and his treatment of chiaroscuro so full of verve and the charm of unexpectedness, that his faults as draughtsman are forgotten.
A very charming little canvas called Venus, in this room, really a copy of Titian's Danaë, is by Giovanni Contarini. It has exquisite colour gradations, and is so free and supple in handling that one hardly realizes that it is only a copy.
Contarini was born in 1549 in Venice, and, among the mediocrities of the last part of the sixteenth and first part of the seventeenth century, stands out as a man of real if uneven talent. His colour was vigorous, his brush facile, and he had a happy faculty of imitating the style and manner of greater men. As a draughtsman he was distinctly poor.
Domenico Tintoretto, the son of the great Tintoretto, has eight or nine pictures in the Academy, five of them portraits. Four of his canvases are in Room 9, one, the Portrait of Pietro Marcello, in Room to, Christ Scourged in Room II, and the Madonna and Child between Two Camerlenghi in the first corridor. Extended comment of them is here hardly possible. The portraits are by far the best of his work. Domenico was the most famous pupil of his father, and at first he followed closely in his style, producing works of some excellence, but showing little originality, and with neither colour nor drawing nearly equal to his father's. Later on in life he grew more exaggerated, trying to achieve effects by superficial, forced means; and his art finally degenerated into the overabundant forms, the ill-regulated, crowded composition, the careless, intense colour characteristic of the last days of the Renaissance.
Titian's Pietà is the last work of the hand that had but a year to complete its century. Unfortunately, there is comparatively little left in the picture that is wholly the work of the indefatigable centenarian. After his death the canvas was found in his studio, and Palma the younger was chosen to complete it. It is not to Palma's reverent brush that its present despoilment is due. Since his day more than one cleaner and restorer have had their say, till now it is impossible to tell with certainty which part is Titian's, which Palma's, and which the blatant renovator's. It is generally conceded that the central group of Mother and Son is the least injured of all, and more nearly expresses both Titian's conception and his execution.
Before a stone, semidomed recess sits Mary, holding across her knees the dead Christ, unclothed except for a drapery about the loins. Joseph of Arimathea kneels in profile at the right, lifting with loving touch the limp, dropped arm of the Master. At the left Mary Magdalen, in a frenzy of grief, hair unbound and flying, arms and draperies out-spread, seems to be rushing away from the quiet group about Death. A tiny angel is leaning over the vase of ointment at her feet, and in the air over the head of Jesus another is bearing a lighted torch. On lion-faced pedestals at the sides of the stone recess stand statues of Moses and the Grecian Sibyl, and on the floor leaning against Titian's coat of arms is a little painting representing Titian and his son kneeling before a Madonna of Pity.
The darkening and thickening of the colours have made the Pietà almost monochromatic in its warm brown tones, and in the mere handling of it there is little to recall the man of Cadore. The tumultuously agitated Magdalen, the introduction and treatment of the two marble statues, are also not at all Titianesque. But in the Mother and Son can be felt the mighty hand of the great Venetian. There is a monumental grandeur of grief and re-strained passion that, as one critic has not failed to remark, recalls the Pietà of Michelangelo.
It was executed when the unfaltering hand of its creator was nearing its own final rest, when the indomitable spirit must have felt its own approaching dissolution. In a sense it was his own requiem. Titian intended the picture for the Chapel of the Crucifixion in the Church of the Frari where was to be his tomb. It came to the Academy from the suppressed Church of S. Angelo.