Giorgione, also called Giorgio da Castelfranco , extremely influential Italian painter who was one of the initiators of a High Renaissance style in Venetian art. His qualities of mood and mystery were epitomized in The Tempest (c. 1505), an evocative pastoral scene, which was among the first of its genre in Venetian painting.
Giorgio Barbarelli da Castelfranco was born in a small town just outside of Venice. From an early age he exhibited extraordinary artistic abilities and was sent to Venice be trained under the legendary Renaissance master Bellini. Giorgio was a striking young man, famous for his handsomeness and strength. He earned the nickname "Giorgione" which means "George the Great" in Italian, for his physical beauty and his painting abilities. Giorgione was a master at using a newly developed painting technique called sfumato or chiaroscuro. This technique imparted a dramatic, almost dreamlike luminosity of light for which his masterpieces are famous.
According to art historian and author, Bernhard Berenson, "Giorgione created a demand which other painters were forced to supply at the risk of finding no favor. The older painters accommodated themselves as best they could. One of them indeed, turning toward the new in a way that is full of singular charm, gave his later works all the beauty and softness of the first spring days in Italy. Upon hearing the title of one of Catena's works in the National Gallery, "A Warrior Adoring the Infant Christ," who could imagine what a treat the picture itself had in store for him? It is a fragrant summer landscape enjoyed by a few quiet people, one of whom, in armor, with the glamour of the Orient about him, kneels at the Virgin's feet, while a romantic young page holds his horse's bridle. I mention this picture in particular because it is so accessible, and so good an instance of the Giorgionesque way of treating a subject; not for the story, nor for the display of skill, nor for the obvious feeling, but for the lovely landscape, for the effects of light and color, and for the sweetness of human relations. Giorgione's altar-piece at Castelfranco is treated in precisely the same spirit, but with far more genius.
The young painters had no chance at all unless they undertook at once to furnish pictures in Giorgione's style. But before we can appreciate all that the younger men were called upon to do, we must turn to the consideration of that most wonderful product of the Renaissance and of the painter's craft—the Portrait."
The suggestion of melancholy, perhaps also longing, is a strong theatrical element in almost all of his work. Giorgione's Pastoral Symphony, circa 1508, is one of the greatest masterpieces of the High Renaissance. The artist died of plague at the height of his fame in 1510.