Venice - The Academy - Hall Of The Scholars Of Bellini.
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
This room contains admirable works of the Early High Renaissance, all by scholars of Bellini or their contemporaries. They should be closely studied as giving an admirable idea of Venetian painting at the beginning of the 16th century, just before and during the prime of Titian. R. of the door as you enter,
108. Marco Basaiti. Youthful dead Christ, attended by angels ; a rare treatment of this subject.
L. of the door,
71. Donato Veneziano. Pietà ; the dead Christ supported by St. John and Our Lady.
68. Marco Basaiti. Two panels from an altar-piece ; St. James with his staff, and St. Anthony Abbot with his Tau-shaped cross and bell.
69. Marco Basaiti. The Agony in the Garden ; his finest work, and a very noble and touching picture, painted as an altar-piece for the plague-church of San Giobbe. The picture divides itself into two portions ; the more distant re-presents the Saviour, praying in His agony on the mountain ; the angel with the cup is flying towards him. Below the rock on which he kneels are three sleeping Apostles, as is usual in pictures of this subject; the background is formed by a rather lurid and appropriate dawn. This mystic portion of the picture is seen through the arch of a portico, from which hangs a lamp ; the foreground contains the attendant saints, as spectators of the mystery, an incipient attempt to render the curious old arrangement, by which later persons interfered with the scene, a little less obtrusively anachronistic. To the L. are the two Franciscan saints so frequent at San Giobbe, St. Francis and St. Louis of Toulouse ; to the R. are St. Dominic and St. Mark. A pathetic picture, full of fine devotional feeling.
101. Marco Bello. Chiefly remarkable as being one of the earliest pictures at Venice, in which the little Florentine St. John is introduced with Our Lady and the Child. The fashion started in Florence, where it had a meaning, (St. John the Baptist being the patron saint of the city,) and afterwards spread elsewhere, where it had none, because it allowed the extension of a certain domestic interest always dear to the greater public.
107. Marco Basaiti. St. Jerome in the Desert, as a Penitent,—as usual holding the stone with which he hammers his breast. The two great St. Jerome subjects are this and St. Jerome in his study as translator of the Vulgate.
70. Andrea Previtali. Madonna and Child, with St. John the Baptist and St. Catharine, the latter holding a fragment of the wheel of her martyrdom, which was broken by angels. Note that now the arrangement of the attendant saints has become quite unconventional. Through the window, sub-Alpine landscape.
72 and 73. Catena. Two Fathers of the Church, Augustine and Jerome.
(No number.) Basaiti. St. George slaying the Dragon ; close by, the Princess fleeing. The white charger is emblematic of purity ; still a little stiff in his joints.
I pass over two or three good typical Venetian Madonnas, one by Mansueti, with the donor.
76. Marco Marziale, (a curious, hard, dry painter, who studied in the school of Bellini, but afterwards underwent the influence of Dürer, and oddly combines German with Venetian characteristics.) The Supper at Emmaus. The pilgrim to the R., and the host holding the hat behind him, are extremely German in type, and recall Lucas Cranach. But the German tone is ill assimilated. This is an excellent specimen of its odd artist's peculiar temperament.
78. Bartolomeo Montagna ; (do not confuse him with Mantegna, a very different person. Montagna was a Vicenza painter, influenced by the Bellini, but with marked original characteristics—bold, brown, muscular. This is a good specimen of his style, though more pathetic than his wont.) A very typical and terrible plague-picture, from the plague-church of San Rocco at Vicenza. In the centre stands the wounded Christ, displaying almost painfully the marks of his crucifixion : to the L., St. Sebastian, shot through with the arrows of the plague ; to the R., St. Rocco, with one leg bared to show his plague-spot. This is perhaps the most obvious pestilence-picture to be found in Venice ; the air of poignant suffering, combined with patience and adoration, on the faces of the saints, strikes the keynote. The nude is well painted in warm flesh-tones.
79. Bissolo. The Confession of St. Catharine of Siena. The holy nun kneels meekly, in her Dominican robes, before the feet of the Saviour, who places on her head the crown of thorns, while he shows her at the same time the heavenly crown which he holds in reserve for her in the glorious future. Behind stands St. Peter with his keys, close to whom kneels a female saint, (I think, St. Catharine of Alexandria, but perhaps the Magdalen.) To the R. stand St. Andrew (?) and St. Paul ; to the L., the angel Raphael, with the child Tobias carrying the fish. As this last figure often indicates a votive offering for blindness, (see the Book of Tobit,) it is probable that this deeply religious picture, with its representation of patient suffering, was the gift of a blind woman donor, doubtless a Dominican nun. It comes from the Dominican Church of St. Peter Martyr at Murano.
94. Bissolo. Half-length Madonna and Child, with four saints. Observe Our Lady's face, as characteristic of the later Venetian type. The figure of St. Job, to the R., shows it to be a plague-picture ; the other saints from L. to R. are St. John the Baptist, St. Rose, and St. James the Greater. Over-restored.
93. Bissolo. Presentation in the Temple. A good picture, suggested by a Bellini now in England. Our Lady offers the Child to the aged Simeon, behind whom stands Joseph ; to the L. are St. Antony of Padua and a female saint, (possibly St. Justina,) offering the doves of the sacrifice ; below kneels the donor.
80. Montagna. Our Lady and Child, enthroned on a Paduan throne, with characteristic classical reliefs ; St. Sebastian, to the L., with his suffering face, shows it to be a plague-picture ; to the R., the common desert-saint, St. Jerome. This votive offering comes from the plague-church of San Rocco at Vicenza.
81. Andrea Busati. A magistracy picture from the Doge's Palace. St. Mark, as patron of Venice, enthroned between St. Andrew and St. Francis (or Bernardino ?) probably the name-saints of the magistrates of the moment. It was usual for officers of the Republic thus to mark the period of their tenure of office by presenting their portraits, or some symbolical work of art, to their official residence.
82. Benedetto Diana. A fine altar-piece from St. Luke's at Padua. Our Lady enthroned, with St. Jerome ; the painter's personal patron, St. Benedict (I somewhat doubt this identification); St. Justina, the patron saint of Padua, with the sword of her martyrdom ; and St. Mary Magdalen, with the vase of ointment. Observe the fantastic decorations and head-dresses ; we are getting beyond the purity of the early period. The colour is crude in parts : the tone is affected.
83. Benedetto Diana. Half-length Madonna, between St. Jerome and St. Francis. A magistracy picture.
84. Benedetto Diana. Good Madonna, between St. John the Baptist and St. Jerome. Compare this mentally with the Bellinis and note the differences.
86. Attributed to Benedetto Diana. Madonna enthroned ; the face unusually aged ; with the Infant Christ and St. John the Baptist ; below stand St. Louis of Toulouse and St. Anna, mother of the Virgin. A somewhat mannered picture.
89. Carpaccio. The Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand Christians on Mount Ararat. This confused and mannered picture, painted twenty years later than the St. Ursula series, suffices to show that the Renaissance had done no good to Carpaccio's art ; he has learned now how to draw better, but he has lost all his early naïveté and originality. The work was ordered by the Prior of the Monastery of Sant' Antonio di Castello, the monks of which had imprudently admitted a plague-stricken priest : the Prior vowed this picture to the 10,000 martyrs if his brethren escaped contagion.
95. Attributed to Titian, and said to be his earliest work. The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth ; behind stand their respective husbands, Joseph and Zacharias.
90. Carpaccio. The Meeting of Joachim and Anna at the Golden Gate, before the birth of the Virgin. At the sides are two royal saints, Louis IXth of France, and St. Ursula with her banner and the palm of her martydom. Some writers call the last St. Elizabeth of Hungary, but Elizabeth was not a martyr.
91. Carpaccio. Ceremonial picture, from the church of St. Antonio di Castello, representing the old interior of the church, with a procession of pilgrims.
97. Mansueti. Franciscan plague-picture, from the church of St. Francis at Treviso. In the centre, St. Sebastian, bound to a column, and pierced with the arrows of the pestilence ; extreme L., San Liberale, patron saint of the town and district of Treviso, in a magnificent mantle, bearing his banner ; to the extreme R., San Rocco, with his pilgrim's staff and bundle, raising his robe to show his plague-spot ; a little behind, St. Gregory and St. Francis. This is a good painting, and a very characteristic local plague-picture, full of meaning. The heads have fine individuality.
98. Donato Veneziano. Crucifixion, with very touching figures of Our Lady and St. John. St. Mary Magdalen embraces the foot of the cross. At the ends are two Franciscan saints, St. Francis and St. Bernardino of Siena. From the old Franciscan church of San Niccolo dei Frari.
Lazzaro Sebastiani. Nativity, with shed, manger, ox, and ass ; St. Eustace, St. James, St. Augustine (or Nicholas ?) and an Evangelist (Mark ?).
103. Peter and Paul, Jerome and Ambrose, by Carlo Crivelli, whose dry, ornate Paduan manner is better studied in London or Milan.
104. Lazzaro Sebastiani. Very enigmatical Franciscan picture, representing St. Francis (or Antony of Padua) seated in a tree : beneath, St. Bonaventura and another. I do not understand it.
105. Carlo Crivelli. Four panels of a plague-picture : San Rocco showing his plague-spot, St. Sebastian, St.
Emidius, patron of Ascoli, (where Crivelli lived,) and San Bernardino.
I pass by in this room several other pictures of great merit. To the R., enter ROOM VI.