Colnaghi Foundation Journal 03 - Page 148

G I U LI O CAM PAG N OL A / Landscape, and Venetian illumination
GI U LI O CAMPAG N OLA / Landscape, and Venetian illumination
In thinking about the relationship between Giulio’s
work with contemporary illumination, it is interesting
to note that Giulio’s Mantegnesque figure of Saint John
the Baptist shares certain physical traits with figures
executed by the Second Grifo Master in the Walpole
Psalter. The figure of David discussed above (see fig.
15) exhibits a similarly stiff contrapposto pose, squared
jaw, slightly opened gaping mouth, sunken cheekbones,
upward gaze, and arched eyebrows. Another similar
physiognomy appears on the facing page in a grisaille
roundel below an inscription containing the opening
verse of the first psalm (fig. 17). Although these
similarities are undoubtedly in part simply due to the
fact that both artists are working in a Mantegnesque
idiom (Giulio perhaps directly from model produced
by the artist),49 further parallels can be drawn between
other figures in the psalter and those of Giulio: for
instance, the bronze head of a young man set against
a blue background in a roundel in the lower border of
the illuminated page opening Psalm XXVI (fig. 19),
recalls Giulio’s early figure of Ganymede (fig. 20) and his
later figures of youths, as in his engraving of a Young
Shepherd in a Landscape (fig. 26) and his drawing of a Lyre
Player (see fig. 18).
Fig. 15 / Circle of Benedetto
Bordon/Attributed to
the Second Grifo Master,
illumination of King David
and Psalm I in the so-called
Walpole Psalter, Wormsley,
the Getty Collection, fol. 13v.
Fig. 16 / Giulio Campagnola,
Saint John the Baptist, ca.
1510-1515, line and stipple
engraving, 34.2 x 23.7 cm,
London, British Museum.
Fig. 17 / Circle of Benedetto
Bordon/Attributed to
the Second Grifo Master,
Illuminated opening of Psalm
I in the so-called Walpole
Psalter, Wormsley, the Getty
Collection, fol. 14r.
In the so-called Walpole psalter, now in the Getty
collection at Wormsley, the opening illumination
depicts David playing a lira da braccio (fig. 15), a
popular instrument in the sixteenth century, similar
to a viola, which appears regularly in the visual arts
in Venice at the time, as in a drawing of a young
man by Giulio (fig. 18).43 In the left middle-ground
of the illumination, a stag sits in precisely the same
position as that in both the Giustiniani Commission
and Giulio’s engraving (see figs. 11 & 12). Although
in reverse, and cut-off at the rear by the figure of
David, the depiction of animal clearly relates to
the engraving and the illuminated Commission,
possibly resembling Giulio’s stag more closely in its
refinement, with a slightly more slender body and
neck, and more fully articulated antlers.
This remarkable illumination of David is one of six
extremely fine full-page miniatures decorating the
psalter, which may have been commissioned by the
Venetian noblewoman, Pellegrina da Canal, prioress
of the convent of Santa Maria delle Vergini.44 While
two different artists appear to have been involved in the
decoration of the psalter, a further two miniatures show
full figures in similarly treated landscapes and appear
to be by the same hand as the David, which has been
connected to the Second Grifo Master, so-called on
account the attribution of illuminations in a manuscript
of the poet Antonio Grifo’s Canzoniere, produced
between 1490-1500 and today in the Bibiloteca
Marciana.45 Susy Marcon has also connected the stag in
the landscape vignette in the Giustiniani Commission
to the work of the Second Grifo Master, comparing the
acid yellow tones of the foliage and the modelling of
form through stippling brushwork.46 In the fact the use
of this technique creates another important link with the
work of Giulio Campagnola, as he famously introduced
stippling into his mature engravings, like the Nude in
a Landscape (see fig. 2) and the Tethered Stag (see fig. 11),
modelling forms with tiny dots in order to imitate the
soft, chiaroscuro effects of contemporary painting.
Another, engraving in which Giulio used stippling
extensively in order to depict an atmospheric landscape
is his Saint John the Baptist (fig. 16). The date of this work
has sometimes been debated, given the Mantegnesque
character of the figure.47 However, scholars now tend to
concur that the advanced technical skill demonstrated in
the print must reflect a mature stage of the artist’s career.48
In terms of compositional solutions, another interesting
comparison between the work of Giulio and the Second
Grifo Master can be seen in a miniature found in an
octavo manuscript of Virgil’s works produced in Padua
and dated to around 1507 by Emma T. K. Guest (fig. 21).50
While here Giulio’s stag is replaced with a dog, the conceit
of the animal chained to a tree as a symbol fidelity is
the same. The Second Grifo Master’s tree is more filledout and the landscape more fully developed, but the
correspondence between the thin trunk of the tree, flat
bushy planes of foliage, with small, sprouting branches
alongside, as well as the way in which the chain is
attached to the tree, suggests either a shared source, or
that these artists were familiar with each other’s work
in one way or another. In the case of this manuscript,
it is not surprising to discover close links to Giulio, as


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