Il Pordenone (1483-1539)

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St. Sebastian, St. Roch and St. Catherine

Il Pordenone, by name of Giovanni Antonio de’ Sacchis, was an Italian painter of the Venetian School, active during the Renaissance. Vasari, his main biographer, identifies him as Giovanni Antonio Licinio.

Saint Bonaventure, 1530

He was commonly named “Il Pordenone” from having been born in 1483 at Corticelli, a village near Pordenone in Friuli. He ultimately dropped the name of Licinio, having quarrelled with his brothers, one of whom had wounded him in the hand. After this incident, he then called himself Regillo, or De Regillo. Others say he once took up his maternal name of Cuticelli. His signature runs Antonius Portunaensis, or De Portunaonis. He was deemed a cavalier by Charles V.

Saint Louis of Toulouse, 1530

As a painter, Pordenone was a scholar of Pellegrino da San Daniele but a leading influence on his style was Giorgione. The popular story that he was a fellow pupil with Titian under Giovanni Bellini is false. The district about Pordenone had been somewhat fertile in capable painters, but Pordenone is the best-known, a vigorous chiaroscurist and flesh painter. The 1911 Britannica states that “so far, as mere flesh-painting is concerned, he was barely inferior to Titian in breadth, pulpiness and tone”. The two were rivals for a time, and Licinio would sometimes affect to wear arms while he was painting. He excelled in portraits and was equally at home in fresco and in oil color. He executed many works in Pordenone and elsewhere in Friuli, Cremona, and Venice. At one time, he settled in Piacenza, where one of his most celebrated church pictures, St. Catherine Disputing with the Doctors in Alexandria is located. The figure of St. Paul, in connection with this picture, is his own portrait.

St. Catherine Disputing with the Doctors in Alexandria

He was invited by Duke Ercole II of Ferrara to court and soon afterwards, he died in Ferrara in 1539, not without suspicion of poison. His later works are comparatively careless and superficial, and generally he is better in male figures than in female. The latter being somewhat too sturdy, and the composition of his subject pictures is scarcely on a level with their other merits. Pordenone appears to have been a vehement self-asserting man, to which his style as a painter corresponds.

Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints

Three of his principal pupils were Bernardino Licinio, named Il Sacchiense, his son-in-law Pomponio Amalteo, and Giovanni Maria Calderari.

Partial anthology of works:

  • Study of the Martyrdom of Saint Peter Martyr, (1526, John Paul Getty Museum)
  • Saint Bonaventure, (National Gallery, London)
  • Saint Louis of Toulouse, (National Gallery, London)
  • Saints Prosdocimus & St. Peter, (1516, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh).
  • Golgotha, (1520-21, fresco, Cathedral of Cremona)
  • Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints, (c. 1525, Parish Church, Susegana, Treviso)
  • St. Lorenzo Giustiniani and Other Saints, (1532, originally in S. Maria dell’Orto, now Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice)
  • Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints, (1525)
  • Saint Martin and Saint Christopher, (1528-29, Church of San Rocco, Venice)
  • San Lorenzo Giustiniani & Two Friars with Saints, (1532, Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence)
  • Saints Sebastian, Roch and Catherine, (1535, Church of San Giovanni Elemosinario, Venice)
  • Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints, (1525, Parish Church, Grandcamp, France)
  • The dispute of Saint Catherine with Pagan Philosophers, (Cathedral of Piacenza)
  • San Gottardo and Saints Sebastian and Rocco, (Museo Civico d’Arte, Pordenone)
  • Saint Catherine and Martyrs, (Museo Civico di Conegliano)
  • Drawings from Ambrosiana Library, Milan
  • Magi, (Treviso Cathedral)

Golgotha, Fresco, Cathedral of Cremona, 1520-1521

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