Northern Italian Renaissance Painting,
Architecture and Mannerism
While Rome ranked as
Italys preeminent arts center
at the beginning of the 16th
century, wealthy and
powerful families in
Northern Italy also
patronized the arts.
Northern cities such as
Mantua, Parma and Venice
were home to talented
painters, sculptors and
architects and experienced a
Renaissance as well.
In his brief but prolific career, Correggio produced most of
his work for patrons in Parma and Mantua.
His greatest work, the Assumption of the Virgin, a fresco
painted between 1526-30 in the dome of the Parma
cathedral, distantly recalls the illusionism of Mantegnas
ceiling in the Gonzaga palace.
However scholars believe that it was Leonardo who
inspired Correggios use of softly modeled forms, spot
lighting effects of illumination, and slightly hazy overall
Raphaels influence is also apparent in the the idealized
Some scholars refer to his style as PROTO BAROQUE
Correggio, Assumption of the Virgin, 1526-30 fresco
Parma Cathedral, Italy
Mantegna Correggio1471-74 1526-30
St Peter and St. Paul
The architecture of the dome
seems to dissolve and the forms
seem to explode through the
building drawing the viewer up
in to a swirling vortex of saints
Correggios dramatic effects
with contrasting colors and
warm sensuous figures was very
often imitated in ceiling
decoration in Europe
throughout the 17th century.
Venetian artists and oil paint
The idealized style and oil painting techniques initiated by theBellini family in the late 15th century were developed further by16th century painters in Venice.
Venetians were the first Italians to use oil paint on both canvas andwood panel.
Oil paint on canvas was preferred in Venice rather than frescopainting due to the citys dampness.
Painting on canvas rather than fresco, also allowed the artist tocomplete the work more conveniently in the studio.
In addition, oil paint was especially well suited to the rich colors andlighting effects employed great Venetian painters such as:Giorgione, Titian, Veronese and Tintoretto.
The career of Giorgione was brief; he died from the plaguewhen he was about 32 years old.
Nevertheless his importance to Venetian painting iscritical.
He introduced enigmatic or puzzling pastoral themes,sensuous nude figures, and above all an appreciation ofnature in a landscape setting.
His early years are undocumented, but his work suggestshe studied with Giovanni Bellini.
There also seems to be an influence from Leonardo in hisintensely observed landscapes.
GiorgioneAdoration of the Shepard, 1505-10, Oil on panel
St Francis in Ecstasy
Oil on panel
Adoration of the Shepard
Oil on panel
Can you see Bellinis influence on Giorgione?
The TempestGiorgione c. 1510
The Tempest, Giorgiones most
famous painting, was completed
shortly before his death.
The subject of this painting is
immediately intriguing to the
What is going on? Why is she
nursing the baby in the nude?
The male figure on the left is
wearing the uniform of a German
According to x-rays of the
painting the woman on the right
was at one time balanced by a
second woman on the left.
The landscape with its impending
storm seem to be of greater
importance than the figures.
The painting ofthe nude as aninexplicablesubject and thedominance ofthe landscapeare typical ofGiorgione
Oil on canvas
Giorgione and Titian
Some scholars believe that Giorgione approached his work
as many modern day artists do, expressing private thoughts
and feelings in his paintings.
Although he also painted traditional subjects produced on
commission for clients: portraits, altarpieces and paintings
on exteriors of Venetian buildings.
In 1507, he was commissioned to paint the exterior of the
warehouse and offices of German merchants.
He hired another young artist, Titian, as an assistant.
The two artists worked together for the next three years,
until Giorgiones early death.
The two artists careers were tightly bound together.
Titian and Giorgione, The Pastoral Concert
C. 1508, oil on canvas
Like poetry, the painting evokes a mood, a golden age of love and innocence
recalled in ancient Roman pastoral poetry.
This kind of poetic painting is new in the history of art, and this painting had a
profound influence on later generations of painters who saw it and
Giorgione, Sleeping Venus, c. 1501
oil on canvas, 43 70 inches, Dresden
The Sleeping Venus, is an extremely influential painting.
The painting, one of the last works by Giorgione, portrays a nude woman whoseprofile seems to follow that of the hills in the background.
The choice of a naked woman marked a revolution in art, and is considered bysome authorities one of the starting points of modern art.
The painting was unfinished at the time of his death.
The sky was later finished by Titian.
The landscape mimics the curves of the woman's body and this, in turn,relates the human body back to being a natural, organic object.
The contemplative attitude toward nature and beauty of the figure is typicalof Giorgione.
The composition of this painting influenced later painters such as, Ingres andRubens. A direct link connects the Venus of Giorgione to that of Titian, andhis Venus led directly to the Olympia of Manet.
What do we know about Giorgiones assistant Titian
Titians life as an artist is obscure.
He worked with Giorgione for three years before Giorgionedied, finishing his paintings.
By that time he had completely absorbed Giorgiones style.
When Giovanni Bellini died in 1516, Titian became theofficial painter of Venice.
In 1519, Titian received a commission from Jacopo Pesaro,commander of the Vatican fleet, to commemorate his victoryover the Turks in 1502.
Pesaro wanted a votive altarpiece for a Franciscan Church inVenice.
Titian worked on the painting for seven years and changedthe concept three times before he came up with arevolutionary composition.
Titian was principally a painter, buta painter whose handling of paintequaled Michelangelo's mastery ofdraftsmanship.
This supreme skill enabled him todisregard all the time-honored rulesof composition, and to rely on colorto restore the unity, which heintentionally broke up.
His painting, Madonna with saintsand members of the Pesaro family,was begun only fifteen years afterBellini's Madonna with saints torealize the effect that his art musthave had on his contemporaries.
It was almost unheard of to movethe Virgin out of the center of thepicture, and to place the two saints -St Francis and St Peter, notsymmetrically on each side, asGiovanni Bellini had done, but asactive participants of a scene.
Bellini 1505 Titian c. 1520
Titian's contemporaries may have
been amazed at the audacity with
which he had dared to upset the
old-established rules of
They must have, at first, found such
a picture lopsided and unbalanced.
Actually it is the opposite.
The unexpected composition only
serves to bring the scene to life,
without upsetting the harmony.
Titian allowed light, air and colors
to unify the scene.
The idea of making a mere flag
counterbalance the figure of the
Holy Virgin would probably have
shocked an earlier generation, but
this flag, in its rich, warm color, is
such a stupendous piece of painting
that it works in this composition.
The Venus of Urbino
Oil on canvas, 47 x 66 inches
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
Oil on canvas
She was 60 when Titianpainted this portrait.
She wanted to look 20
She was the Marchesa ofMantua and one of theleading women of theItalian Renaissance anda major cultural andpolitical figure.
The Rape of Europa (1562) is a bold diagonal composition which was admired and
copied by Rubens. In contrast to the clarity of Titian's early works, it is almost baroque
in its blurred lines, swirling colors, and vibrant brushstrokes.
Crowning with Thorns
Oil on canvas
280 x 182 cm
Alte Pinakothek, Munich
Titian was the greatestpainter of the VenetianSchool.
Over the course of his longlife he, like