Colnaghi Foundation Journal 03 - Page 146

G I U LI O CAM PAG N OL A / Landscape, and Venetian illumination
Fig. 11 / Giulio Campagnola,
Stag Tethered to a Tree, ca.
1515, stipple engraving,
18.2 x 11.7 cm, London,
British Museum.
Fig. 12 / Circle of Benedetto
Bordon/Attributed to
the Second Grifo Master,
Commission of Girolamo
Giustiniani as Procurato
de ultra, 1516, Venice,
Biblioteca Correr, Ms. Classe
III 203, fol. 7r.
In fact, there is a striking resemblance between
Giulio’s engraving of a Tethered Stag (fig. 11) of ca.
1510-1515, and several images of stags that occur
in illuminations produced around this time by
illuminators close to Bordon. For example, the 1516
Commission of Girolamo Giustiniani as procurator
de ultra, preserved in the Museo Correr, is decorated
with an image of a similar stag occupying a medallion
in the lower border (fig. 12).36 When compared to
Giulio’s engraving, the correspondence in the
positioning of the stags is so close that it appears
as if the artist and illuminator may have been
working from the same model. Giulio’s engraving
seems to derive from Jacometto’s image of a Tethered
Stag (fig. 13) on the reverse of his portrait of Alvise
GI U LI O CAMPAG N OLA / Landscape, and Venetian illumination
Contarini, dated ca. 1485-1495. 37 Nevertheless,
Jacometto of course also worked as an illuminator,
and similar images of deer in appear with regularity
in illuminations produced in northern Italy from the
second half of the fifteenth century, as demonstrated
by Bordon’s miniature in the Martial, cited above
(see fig. 7). 38 Several earlier examples occur in
Ferrarese illumination, including in the famous Bible
of Borso d’Este. 39 A few years after the completion
of Borso’s Bible, a border roundel with a stag was
incorporated into the decoration of the Commission,
now in the Marciana, of Nicolò Marcello as
procurator de supra in 1466, executed by Leonardo
Bellini, who was a cousin of the painters Giovanni
and Gentile (fig. 14).40
Fig. 13 / Jacometto
Veneziano, Tethered Stag
(verso of Portrait of Alvise
Contarini) ca. 1485-1495,
oil on wood, 10.2 x 7.3 cm,
New York, Metropolitan
Museum of Art.
Fig. 14 / Leonardo Bellini,
Commission of Nicolò
Marcello as Procurator
de supra, 1466, Venice,
Biblioteca Marciana, Ms.
Lat. X, 238, fol. 5r.
The diversity in the genre of texts in which seated stags
appear reveals both the range of symbolic meaning
that the image could assume, as well as the popularity
of the subject as a decorative motif. Iconographically,
Giulio’s tethered stag assumes the same poetic
meaning of faithful love as that on the reverse of the
Jacometto portrait.41 In the context of the medallion
decorating Girolamo Giustiniani’s Commission, one
might presume a meaning associated with the Biblical
significance of stags deriving from Psalm 42:1, which
likens the soul’s thirst for God to that of a panting stag’s
desire for water. Nevertheless, as in the Giustiniani
Commission, Giulio’s stag appears in a landscape (albeit
a simplified one), linking it to the countless images of
deer in contemporary illumination where the animals,
like buildings and plants simply become “attributes” of
the landscape.42 In form, the correspondence between
Giulio’s stag and that in the illumination appears
perhaps even closer than that between the engraving
and Jacometto’s painting; although the body of the
illuminated stag is slightly rounder (possibly due to the
reduced scale), the bent, extended foreleg, curved tail,
and underside with clearly represented testicles, all
correspond almost exactly.
A further, very similar image of seated stag, functioning
as an attribute of the landscape, while also clearly
alluding to the Biblical symbolism of the animal, occurs
in another contemporary illumination that has been
dated to the second decade of the sixteenth century.


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