Colnaghi Foundation Journal 03 - Page 150

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
It is worth observing that all three of the official
Venetian documents discussed in this context were
produced for the very highest offices of state and
executed for members of the some of the most
prominent families of collectors (Giustiniani, Grimani,
and Mocenigo); and while the commissions were most
likely funded by the respective branch of government,
the documents themselves were probably held as a
treasures within family collections, as was certainly the
case with the Promissio of Antonio Grimani.55
Fig. 18 / Giulio Campagnola,
Young Man Playing a ‘lira da
braccio’, ca. 1510, pen and
brown ink, 19.2 x 14.3 cm, Paris,
Bibliothèque de L’École des
Fig. 19 / Circle of Benedetto
Bordon/Attributed to the
Second Grifo Master, detail
of the illuminated opening of
Psalm XXVI, in the so-called
Walpole Psalter, Wormsley, the
Getty Collection, fol. 54r.
Fig. 20 / Giulio Campagnola
Ganymede, engraving,
17.5 x 12.8 cm, New York,
Metropolitan Museum of Art.
the scribe who penned it was his old family associate
and correspondent, Bartolomeo Sanvito. And while the
original owner has not been identified, several pages
contain marginal notes in the hand of Campagnola’s
friend and patron, Pietro Bembo.51
Although the precise relationship between Giulio and
the Second Grifo Master cannot yet be established
with certainty, it is clear that the two artists operated
within the same milieu and worked with a shared visual
vocabulary, indeed close enough to suggest regular
opportunities for exchange. Returning to the start of
this essay both artists demonstrate a preoccupation
with landscape and sought similar technical solutions
to achieve the desired effects. In particular, as noted,
stippling was used by both to great effect in the rendering
of beautiful, atmospheric landscape scenery. Another,
slightly later miniature in the 1521 Promissio of Doge
Fig. 21 / Circle of Benedetto
Bordon/Attributed to
the Second Grifo Master,
Frontispiece with
illumination of a dog
chained to a tree in Virgil,
Opera, Princeton University
Library, Department of
Rare Books and Special
Collections, Ms. 41, fol. 1v.
Antonio Grimani (fig. 22), also attributed to the Second
Grifo Master and now in the British Library, shows a
highly developed mastery of this stippling technique,
used throughout the landscape and also on the figures.52
While Giulio seems to have disappeared from the artistic
scene by this stage, it should be noted that he lived
longer than traditionally assumed in the literature, as
he is mentioned in a letter of October 1517.53 Although
Giulio’s own use of stippling originated with his training
as an illuminator, perhaps his extensive experimentation
with the technique, in order to achieve effects of light
and atmosphere in his mature, engraved depictions of
landscape, in turn influenced the Second Grifo Master,
Bordon, and their collaborators. Another stunning
example of a landscape modelled primarily through
stippling and produced in Bordon’s circle occurs in the
Commission of Antonio Mocenigo as procurator de
citra, today in the Royal Collection (fig. 23).54
While, Giulio’s work shares affinities with that of the
Second Grifo Master in both motifs and technique,
aspects of the former’s landscapes, especially in
drawings, relate more closely to the work of the younger
generation of painters active in Venice in the early
sixteenth century. In particular, his regular depiction
of rustic, northern-looking buildings recall structures
present in the landscape backgrounds of Giorgione,
Sebastiano, and the young Titian. Nevertheless, this
sort of imagery also occurs in illuminations produced in
the circle of Bordon, as seen in the illuminated printed
books cited above (see figs. 8-10). In conversation, Lilian
Armstrong pointed out to me the general similarity
between such landscape scenes and the work of the
illuminator known as the Master of the Trees, who
seems to have emerged from the circle of Bordon
around 1514, and decorated several ducali over the next
two decades.56 This artist’s work relates to Giulio’s,
as his illuminations include several scenes of “pure”
landscapes, for example in the 1516 Commission of
Sebastiano Contarini as podestà of Capodistria (fig. 24)
now in the Correr.57 In a generic way, the construction
and form of the landscape depicted in the medallion
in the lower border of this Commission recalls Giulio’s
Young Shepherd (fig. 25), with a tree anchoring the
foreground, while undulating land masses, buildings, and
curved mountains are layered in receding planes. More
profound is the conceptual link with several drawings
attributed to Giulio, in which landscapes without figures
are explored as independent subject matter.


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