Antonello da Messina. fl. 1465-1493.
Cima da Conegliano. 1460?-1517.
Marco Basaiti. fl. 1503-1521.
Vincenzo Catena. d. 1531.
Antonello da Messina began his study of painting in his home in Sicily. In Naples he is said to have seen a picture by Jan van Eyck which so impressed him that he determined to visit Flanders, where he learned the method of painting in oil. In 1473 he settled in Venice, influencing the work of Giovanni Bellini through his new medium and method. His best work is in portraiture.
Giovanni Battista, known as Cima, was born in Conegliano, a town north of Venice whose castle-crowned hill is often seen in his ‘pictures. His earliest work was painted in 1489 in Vicenza under the influence of Montagna. Soon after, he settled in Venice and became one of Bellini’s most prominent followers. His altarpieces of the Baptism and the Incredulity of Thomas in Venice, and of St. Peter Martyr in Milan, are full of quiet dignity, and are beautiful for the wide sky and transparent atmosphere. Two fine works are in Parma. His later works are numerous, many of them of great charm as he developed his own manner. 1508 is the latest date of work by Cima.
Marco Basaiti, probably of Greek descent, completed the great altarpiece of St. Ambrose left unfinished by Alvise Vivarini at his death in 1503. After 1510 he imitates the work of Palma and Giorgione, but seldom with inspiration. His work therefore shows no consistent development.
Vincenzo di Biagio, familiarly known as Catena, came to Venice from Treviso and in 1495 was working in the Ducal Palace for three ducats a month. By his patience and industry he followed so closely the manner of the great painters of the early sixteenth century that many of his pictures have been attributed to abler men. His Glorification of St. Cristina in Venice, painted in 1520, is an unusual subject, in which the manner of various masters has been copied in the different figures. A picture now in Berlin of a member of the Fugger family is one of his best portraits.
The technique of oil painting. Laurie, Materials of the Painter’s Craft, ch. 13, 14. Ward, History and Methods of Modern Painting, ch. 13.
The country of Venezia. Williams, Plain-Towns, 177-234.
Venetian Paintings in English Collections, a study in attributions. Berenson, Study and Criticism I. Venetian Painting.
ASSOCIATES AND PUPILS OF GIOVANNI BELLINI 285 NOTES ON THE PICTURES.
No. 353. n Condottiere.
On wood, just under life size; painted by Antonello in 1475. The face is modeled with extreme minuteness and perfection, and is painted with an enamel-like surface that has ensured its preservation. The picture is an interesting combination of Flemish attention to details and Italian simplicity and directness.
This is a most compelling face, and well suggests the personality of the soldier of fortune who gathered his own army and held it by his will.
No. 354. Christ bound to the Column.
On wood, 1 foot 3 inches by 11 inches, painted in his later period. This subject and the Crucifixion were often repeated by Antonello. While more realistic than the Christ head by Cima, 358, it is far less impressive. Analyze the reasons for this.
No. 357. The Incredulity of Thomas.
On wood, 6 feet 9 inches by 4 feet 6 inches. Painted in 1501 by Cima for the Scuola di Murari (Guild of Masons), of which Thomas and the Bishop Magnus were patron saints. The colors are rather cold, but the work is very beautiful because of the clear light and the sense of air and space. The figures stand framed in the arch, with the hill of Conegliano, the distant mountains and the blue sky far behind them.
No. 358. Ecce Homo. National Gallery, London.
On wood, 14 by 11 inches. Sometimes ascribed to Giovanni Bellini. The hair and beard are auburn, the drapery about the shoulders dark blue.
This is one of the most touching representations of the suffering Christ. The beauty and nobility of the type, the patience and restraint, make its appeal the greater. Compare Masaccio’s Christ face, 142, Fra Angelico, 119, Leonardo, C 4, 9.
No. 359. Madonna and Child.
Oil on wood, a late work by Cima. The entire picture includes John the Baptist at the left, St. Paul at the right.
Compare with Bellini’s Madonnas in character and spirit.
No. 367. Calling of the Sons of Zebedee.
Oil on wood, 14 feet 9 inches by 8 feet 5 inches. Painted by Basaiti in 1510 for the church of S. Andrea della Certosa on one of the islands of the lagoon. The painting has an arched top omitted in the print. The landscape is supposed to represent the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Christ stands between Peter and Andrew; James and John approach, while their father stands in the boat.
The work belongs to Basaiti’s transition between the manner of Vivarini and of Bellini. Compare with the work of both.
No. 368. Madonna, Child, and Saints.
Oil on wood, an early work by Catena. It is a presentation of the Child to Simeon. At one time it bore the forged signature of Giovanni Bellini, but Catena’s name was discovered when it was cleaned. It has been suggested that it may be a copy of an original by Bellini, painted under the influence of Mantegna. Cf. Mantegna’s Presentation, 308.
No. 370. St. Stephen.
Panel 2 feet in height. Formerly ascribed to Carpaccio, more recently to Bissolo, an associate of Catena.
The saint is dressed in the vestments of a priest, the stones of his martyrdom miraculously poised on head and shoulder. The color is bright, with a warm glow over the sky and landscape. Study the character of the face, the decorative quality of the garments, the treatment of the landscape.
No. 369. Warrior adoring the Infant Christ.
National Gallery, London.
Canvas, 8 feet 7 inches by 5 feet 1 inch. Catena’s masterpiece, at one time ascribed to Giorgione. The parapet with the figure in half length behind, the distant landscape, the trees, the color, above all the spirit of the scene, are reminders of Giorgione and serve to show how pervasive was his genius. There are many Giorgionesque pictures, although very few actually by his hand.
The quail behind the Madonna’s chair was used by Catena as a sign manual. The little dog appears in Carpaccio’s St. Jerome.
Study the lighting, composition, and spirit of the picture. Contrast with Bellini’s work.
This picture brings us to the threshold of the great new art of Giorgione and Titian, though it still belongs to the generation of Giovanni Bellini, the truest artist of the fifteenth century.