This was originally posted in November 2012 on the NEAC Blog.
We took my in laws to Venice this week to celebrate my father in law’s eightieth birthday. The tourists had fled the floods and the rain and left Venice to the Venetians, most of whom were old and in furs so the city was quiet and slightly forlorn. I did come across seven beautiful young men as we meandered however, all called Sebastian and mostly Venetian, although one was passing through en route to Mantua. The line up tells one more about the development of the venetian renaissance than pages of writing can, have a look for yourself..
J Bellini Murano Giovanni Bellini Andrea Vecchio Palma Vecchio Veronese Tintoretto
1464 1478 1468 1506 1524 1564 1587
A few things struck me about the gang of youths: firstly how Saint Sebastian packed on the pounds over the period. He starts looking positively skinny, is pretty perfect by the time Giovanni Bellini portrays him, but is building up the muscle, more VeniceBeach than Venice, with Veronese and Tintoretto. To me the first three paintings are all about the drawing, but colour takes precedence in the final three. The pose also becomes progressively more dramatic, anguished and contorted, and by Tintoretto’s image poor old Sebastian is being skewered on the altar of mannerism.
Lastly it struck me that, rather like Venice itself, what a close knit claustrophobic world venetian painting circles must have been. Jacobo was father to Giovanni and Gentile Bellini, father in law to Mantegna, who married Giovanni and Gentile’s sister Nicolosia, Giovanni taught Titian and Giorgione, Andrea da Murano imitated Giovanni, Titian briefly taught Tintoretto, Tintoretto and Veronese were arch rivals on several big commissions, Palma Vecchio trained Boniface Veronese who trained Tintoretto after he fell out with Titian. I wish someone would make a painters tree out of the tangle of connections…