Knights of the Art HTML version

As we look back upon the lives of the great painters we can see how each one added
some new knowledge to the history of Art, and unfolded fresh beauties to the eyes of the
world. Very gradually all this was done, as a bud slowly unfolds its petals until the full-
blown flower shows forth its perfect beauty. But here and there among the painters we
find a man who stands apart from the rest, one who takes a new and almost startling way
of his own. He does not gradually add new truths to the old ones, but makes an entirely
new scheme of his own. Such a man was Giorgione, whose story we tell to-day.
It was at the same time as Leonardo da Vinci was the talk of the Florentine world, that
another great genius was at work in Venice, setting his mark high above all who had gone
before. Giorgio Barbarelli was born at Castel Franco, a small town not far from Venice,
and it was to the great city of the sea that he was sent as soon as he was old enough, there
to be trained under the famous Bellini. He was a handsome boy, tall and well-built, and
with such a royal bearing that his companions at once gave him the name of Giorgione,
or George the Great. And, as so often happened in those days, the nick- name clung to
him, so that while his family name is almost forgotten he is still known as Giorgione.
There was much of the poet nature about Giorgione, and his love of music was intense.
He composed his own songs and sang them to his own music upon the lute, and indeed it
seemed as if there were few things which this Great George could not do. But it was his
painting that was most wonderful, for his painted men and women seemed alive and real,
and he caught the very spirit of music in his pictures and there held it fast.
Giorgione early became known as a great artist, and when he was quite a young man he
was employed by the city of Venice to fresco the outside walls of the new German
Exchange. Wind and rain and the salt sea air have entirely ruined these frescoes now, and
there are but few of Giorgione's pictures left to us, but that perhaps makes them all the
more precious in our eyes.
Even his drawings are rare, and the one you see here is taken from a bigger sketch in the
Uffizi Gallery of Florence. It shows a man in Venetian dress helping two women to
mount one of the niches of a marble palace in order to see some passing show, and to be
out of the way of the crowd.
There is a picture now in the Venice Academy said to have been painted by Giorgione,
which would interest every boy and girl who loves old stories. It tells the tale of an old
Venetian legend, almost forgotten now, but which used to be told with bated breath, and
was believed to be a matter of history. The story is this:
On the 25th of February 1340 a terrible storm began to rage around Venice, more terrible
than any that had ever been felt before. For three days the wild winds swept her waters
and shrieked around her palaces, churning up the sea into great waves and shaking the
city to her very foundations. Lightning and thunder never ceased, and the rain poured