(redirected from Barbarelli, Giorgio)
Also found in: Dictionary.


Giorgione (jōrjôˈnā), c.1478–1510, Venetian painter, b. Castelfranco Veneto; fellow student of Titian under Giovanni Bellini in Venice. Giorgione was known also as Zorgo or Zorgi da Castelfranco and as Giorgio Barbarelli. Almost nothing is known of his life except that he worked in Venice, undertook various important commissions in oil and fresco, and died of the plague in his early 30s. Legend concedes him great personal charm. A major innovator, he is credited with having been the formative influence in the lives of Titian, Pordenone, Sebastiano del Piombo, and Jacopo Palma il Vecchio. Thus, in a sense, 16th-century Venetian painting stems from him. So absolute was his domination that it is impossible to separate with certainty his work from that of his imitators. His frescoes are practically obliterated. The list of his extant works in oil is computed variously at from 4 to 70. But if Giorgione himself is an unknown quantity, his style is not. It was new to Venetian painting both in technique and in spirit. Technically it introduced a greater fusion of all forms and a subordination of local color to the pervading tone, used to emphasize forms in space. This revolution was accomplished simultaneously by Leonardo, but whereas Leonardo tended to suppress color in his opaque shadows, the colors of Giorgione were luminous and warm. The Giorgionesque style was liberating. The ostensible subject no longer limited the artist but became a pretext for self-expression. The specific works associated with Giorgione have the poetic quality of a bucolic dreamworld never recaptured by his famous followers. Among the best authenticated are Madonna with SS. Francis and Liberale (cathedral, Castelfranco Veneto); The Three Philosophers (Vienna); and the puzzling seminude woman with child set in a stormy landscape known as the Tempesta (Academy, Venice). Also celebrated, if more dubious are Concert Champêtre (Louvre); Laura (Vienna); Judith (St. Petersburg); Adoration of the Shepherds (National Gall. of Art, Washington, D.C.); the Concert (Pitti Palace); and Judgment of Solomon and Trial of Moses (Uffizi). His pastoral Sleeping Venus (Gemäldegalerie, Dresden) was finished by Titian.


See complete ed. of his works by T. Pignatti (1971); studies by G. M. Richter (1937), L. Baldass (1965), and T. Pignatti (1971).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(pseudonym of Giorgio Barbarelli da Castel-franco). Born 1476 or 1477, in Castelfranco, Veneto; died September or October 1510, in Venice. Italian painter of the Venetian school. One of the first High Renaissance artists.

Giorgione probably studied under Giovanni Bellini, and he was close to the circle of Venetian humanists. He was also famous as a singer and a musician. From 1507 to 1508 he took part in the decoration of the Palace of the Doges and painted frescoes for the German Exchange in Venice. (A fragment of the fresco has been preserved, depicting a female figure.)

Most of Giorgione’s creative work was secular painting, and he was the first artist for whom this form had primary importance. The early works, which were executed before 1505, include Aderation of the Shepherds, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Madonna Enthroned, With Saints Francis and Liberale, Cathedral at Castelfranco, and Judith. In them the chief characteristic of Giorgione’s art already appeared—a poetic representation of the wealth of vital forces hidden in the world and in man, the presence of which is revealed not in action but in a state of universal, silent spirituality.

In his mature works (1506-10) a sense of the invisible throbbing of life in nature and man and ingenuity in depicting models and landscapes are mixed with ennobling idealization, a subtle emotional atmosphere, and the complex, associative character of ideological and thematic conceptualization, giving the paintings an ineffable quality (The Tempest, Gallery of the Academy, Venice, and Three Philosophers, Museum of Fine Arts, Vienna). The general tendency of the artist’s creative work was expressed in the intimately lyric, emotional coloring of his portraits (Portrait of a Youth, Picture Gallery, Berlin-Dahlem; Portrait of a Woman [sometimes called Laura], Museum of Fine Arts, Vienna; and Portrait of Antonio Broccardo, Museum of Fine Arts, Buda-pest). Also of importance in his work was his interest in the independent expressiveness of nature, which prepared the way for the development of a new genre of painting—the landscape.

Giorgione’s late works (Sleeping Venus and Concert champetre, the Louvre, Paris) completely expressed the principal theme of his art—the harmonious unity of man and nature. The embodiment of the theme was furthered by the artist’s discoveries in artistic techniques, which played an important role in the development of European oil painting. Giorgione retained a clarity of space and a purity and lyrical expressiveness of contours, but, using a soft, transparent chiaroscuro, he achieved an organic merger of the human figure with the landscape and an integrity of painting attained by no artist before him. He added a rich warmth and freshness to the resonance of the principal focuses of color, combining them with a multitude of vivid nuances, interrelated by gradations of lighting and tending toward tonal unity.

Giorgione’s creative concept may be said to have been in a certain way induced by his contemporaries’ nature philosophy, which influenced the formation of Venetian humanism; it reflected the Renaissance adoration of human beauty and earthly joys. His artistic legacy transformed 16th-century Italian painting and laid the foundation for the period of its brilliant flourishing. Giorgione’s achievements were adopted by many of his contemporaries, including Giovanni Bellini, Sebastiano del Piombo, and Palma Vecchio, and they were further developed in the creative work of his pupil Titian.


Smirnova, LA. Dzhordzhone. Moscow, 1955.
Smirnova, I. A. Titsian i venetsianskii portret XVI veka. Moscow, 1964. Pages 27-42.
Lazarev, V. N. “Vystavka ’Dzhordzhone i dzhordzhoneskï v Venetsii.” Iskusstvo, 1956, no. 1.
Venturi, L. Giorgione e il giorgionismo. Milan, 1913.
Zampetti, P. Giorgione e i giorgioneschi: Catalogo della mostra. Venice, 1955.
Baldass, L., and G. Heinz. Giorgione. Vienna-Munich, 1964.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Il. original name Giorgio Barbarelli. ?1478--1511, Italian painter of the Venetian school, who introduced a new unity between figures and landscape
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005