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Giorgione, Portrait of a Young Man ('Giustiniani Portrait'), c. 1497-99. Oil on canvas. 57.5 x 45.5 cm. Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, inv. 12A. With kind permission of the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin. © Photo: Jörg P. Anders.

LONDON.- The Royal Academy of Arts presents In the Age of Giorgione, a focused survey of the Venetian Renaissance during the first decade of the sixteenth century. The exhibition sheds new light on this pivotal period, which laid the foundations for the Golden Age of Venetian painting. It brings together around 50 works from public institutions and private collections across Europe and the United States, by celebrated artists such as Giorgione, Titian, Giovanni Bellini, Sebastiano del Piombo and Lorenzo Lotto, while offering an opportunity to rediscover other less well known artists such as Giovanni Cariani. The exhibition also considers the influence of Albrecht Dürer who visited Venice in 1505 – 6. 

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Albrecht Dürer, Portrait of Burkhard of SpeyerOil on panel. 31.7 x 26 cmRoyal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016.

By the beginning of the sixteenth century Giovanni Bellini had revolutionised Venetian painting, favouring a new naturalism, yet it was the next generation, most notably Giorgione and Titian, who became the protagonists of a new style. Giorgione emerged during the first decade of the sixteenth century, greatly influencing and rapidly transforming the stylistic evolution of Venetian art. These developments were advanced by the young Titian, who would soon become the leading artist in Venice. 

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Giovanni Bellini, Virgin and Child with Saint Peter and Saint Mark and a Donor ('Cornbury Park Altarpiece'), 1505Oil on panel. 91.4 x 81.3cm. Lent by Birmingham Museums Trust on behalf of Birmingham City Council. Photo © Birmingham Museums Trus

Little is known about Giorgione’s life, yet the elusive and poetic quality of his work was so powerful that, despite his early death in 1510, his legacy was profoundly felt in Venice and beyond. Giorgione worked largely for a new type of patron, that of the cultured and sophisticated connoisseur. He proposed a new, more poetic type of portraiture and created a serene bucolic world as a backdrop to both sacred and profane subjects. Today, there are only a few works that can be attributed to Giorgione with certainty. The exhibition will address the question of attribution, taking a closer look at many of the finest works from the period. 

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Giorgione, Portrait of a Young Man (Antonio Brocardo?)Oil on canvas. 72.5 x 54 cm. Szépmüvészeti Múzeum, Budapest. Gift of Archbishop János László Pyrker, 1836, inv. 94. Photo © Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest.

The most important artist to emerge from Giorgione’s shadow was Titian, who became the preeminent artist in Venice following Giorgione’s premature death. While Giovanni Bellini remained in high demand for the commission of altarpieces, it was Titian who developed Giorgione’s soft and sensuous use of colour on a larger scale. Titian’s life-long artistic experiments led to a new era that has since become known as the century of Titian. 

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Titian, Two Arcadian Musicians in a Landscape. Pen and brown ink over black chalk on paper, 22.4 x 22.6 cm. On loan from the British Museum, London. © The Trustees of the British Museum 

The exhibition includes key works by Giorgione and the young Titian, some of which have rarely been seen in this country. One of the highlights of the exhibition is Giorgione’s Portrait of a Man (The San Diego Museum of Art). Known as the Terris Portrait, after the name of its former owner, the Scottish coal merchant Alexander Terris, it is one of only two known paintings bearing a contemporary inscription on the back of the panel identifying Giorgione as the artist. Displaying a technique similar to Leonardo da Vinci’s famed sfumato, in which areas of colour are blended into one another without perceptible transitions, the portrait epitomises what Giorgio Vasari praised as the ‘modern manner’.

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Giorgione, Portrait of a Man ('Terris Portrait')1506Oil on panel. 30.2 x 25.7 cm. The San Diego Museum of Art. Gift of Anne R. and Amy Putnam 1941.100. Photo © The San Diego Museum of Art, www.sdmart.org.

Further highlights include Giorgione’s Il Tramonto (The Sunset) (The National Gallery, London), Titian’s Christ and the Adulteress (Glasgow Museums) and Titian’s Jacopo Pesaro Being Presented by Pope Alexander VI to Saint Peter (Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp). Also on display are works by Giovanni Bellini, Albrecht Dürer, Lorenzo Lotto, Sebastiano del Piombo, Giovanni Cariani, Giulio Campagnola and Tullio Lombardo, among others.  

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Giorgione, Il Tramonto, c.1502–5. Oil on canvas. 73.3 x 91.4 cm. The National Gallery, London, bought 1961, inv. NG 6307. Photo © The National Gallery, London.

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Titian, Christ and the Adulteress, c. 1511. Oil on canvas. 139.2 x 181.7cm. Glasgow Life (Glasgow Museums) on behalf of Glasgow City Council. Archibald McLellan Collection, purchased 1856, inv. 181. Photo © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection. 

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Titian, Jacopo Pesaro Being Presented by Pope Alexander VI to Saint Peter, 1508–11. Oil on canvas. 147.8 x 188.7 cm. Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp. Photo © Royal Museum for Fine Arts Antwerp / www.lukasweb.be - Art in Flanders vzw. Photography: Hugo Maertens.

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Titian, Portrait of a Woman (‘La Schiavona’), c. 1510–12. Oil on canvas. 119.4 x 96.5 cm. The National Gallery, London. Presented through The Art Fund by Sir Francis Cook, Bt., in memory of his father, Sir Herbert Cook, Bt., 1942. Photo © The National Gallery, London.

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Titian, Portrait of a Man (‘Man with the Blue Sleeve’), c. 1510–12. Oil on canvas. 81.2 x 66.3 cm. The National Gallery, London Photo © The National Gallery, London.

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Giovanni Bellini, Portrait of a Man, c. 1505. Oil on panel. 43.8 x 35.2 cm. The Royal Collection, RCIN 405761 Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016.

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Lorenzo Lotto, Saint Jerome, 1506?. Musée du Louvre, Département des Peintures, inv. MI 164/Photo © RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre)/Gérard Blot.

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Attributed to Sebastiano del Piombo, Portrait of Francesco Maria della Rovere. Oil on panel (transferred to canvas), 73 x 64 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Photo © KHM-Museumsverband.

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Giovanni Cariani, Portrait of a Young Woman. Oil on panel, 52.5 x 42.8 cm. Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest. Photo © Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest.

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Giovanni Cariani, Saint Agatha, c.1510-15. Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, inv. NG 2494/Photo © Scottish National Gallery.

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Tullio Lombardo, Bacchus and Ariadne. Marble, 56 x 71.5 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Photo © KHM-Museumsverband.

In the Age of Giorgione has been arranged in four sections: Portraits, Landscapes, Devotional Works and Allegorical Portraits. These groupings allow visitors to explore the idealised beauty, expressive force and sensuous use of colour that became the hallmarks of Venetian Renaissance painting, whilst rediscovering one of the most enigmatic and influential artists of the period.

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Giorgione, Virgin and Child with Saint Nicasius and Saint Francis of Assisi (‘Castelfranco Altarpiece’), c. 1500. Oil on panel. 200 x 152 cm. Duomo di Santa Maria Assunta e San Liberale, Castelfranco Veneto © 2016. Photo Scala, Florence – courtesy of the Ministero Beni e Att. Culturali.

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Giorgione, The Adoration of the Shepherds, 1505-10. Oil on panel. 90.8 x 110.5 cm. Samuel H. Kress Collection, 1939.1.289 Photo © Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington.

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Attributed to Giorgione, Knight and Groom. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, inv. 911/Photo © 2016. Photo Scala, Florence – courtesy of the Ministero Beni e Att. Culturali.

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Attributed to Giorgione, Portrait of an ArcherScottish National Gallery, Edinburgh. Bequest of Mary Hamilton Campbell, Baroness Ruthven, 1885, inv. NG690/Photo © Scottish National Gallery.

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Giorgione, La Vecchia, c. 1508-10. Tempera and oil on canvas. 68 x 59 cm. Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice, inv. 272. Photo © Archivio fotografico del Polo Museale del Veneto. Photography: Quartana, su concessione del Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo.