Arcadia, the poetic land of shepherds living in pristine simplicity in harmony with nature, found its first true visual representation in Venetian art of the first two decades of the 16th century. It may seem surprising that these pastoral idylls should have enjoyed such lasting literary and artistic success in a city so uniquely defined by water. Against the backdrop of the tense political situation of Venice at the time, however, Arcadia offered a better, peaceful counterworld—a lyrical “Sonderraum”1 within this hub of humanist culture and book production. Erudite circles developed not just in the intellectual milieu of Venice and the nearby University of Padua, but also in courts, such as that of Catarina Cornaro, the former queen of Cyprus, or Ferrara and Mantua, where bucolic poetry enjoyed great popularity.2 In this ambience, Jacopo Sannazaro’s vernacular pastoral romance Arcadia found an enthusiastic reception.3 At the end of the 15th century, the Neapolitan poet had rediscovered and revisited the Arcadia of Theocritus and, later, Virgil: “awakening the sleeping woods and teaching the shepherds to sing songs long forgotten.”4 With almost 70 Italian editions in the 16th century alone, Sannazaro’s book was one of the most successful of the Italian Renaissance, inspiring both poets and artists to embark for Arcadia.5
The idyllic landscape images that arose in response were not so much literal illustrations of Sannazaro’s text as visual fictions analogous to the poetic fictions of the Arcadia. Paintings by Giorgione and the young Titian, such as the Pastoral Concert at the Louvre, embody the same idyllic sensibility.6
Giulio Campagnola used engraving to create a world similar to that of the Venetian painters, especially Giorgione, the “painting Sannazaro,”7 but his prints are not simply reproductions of evocative landscape paintings (or Stimmungslandschaften) in print.8 Broadly educated, Giulio was conversant not only with visual art (especially miniature painting) and music (he was a lutenist and singer), but also with contemporary humanist thought—literature, poetry, Latin, Greek and Hebrew.9 Like his father, Girolamo, he frequented humanist circles in his native Padua and in his adopted hometown of Venice. His active participation in humanist discourse and his intense involvement with books, literature and pictures suggest that for him Arcadia was more than a convenient motif for implementing the innovations of other artists or an aesthetic fashion that might find favor with an educated audience. Rather it was an idea—a conceptual foundation on which to build something new. Campagnola’s engravings are not “imitations or derivations, but ‘inventions.’”10 It is worth repeating David Alan Brown’s observation that Campagnola possibly used engraving to address humanist themes with multiple layers of meaning and interpretation, while in his paintings he favored concise mythological subjects.11
In the 15 engravings12 accepted as being from his hand, there is little sign of the “nymphs, satyrs and mountain dwellers“ that Giovanni Aurelio Augurello praised as characteristic of Campagnola’s paintings.13 Many of the prints, however, carry literary Arcadian themes in a narrower or wider sense.14 Aimed at the humanist audience in which Campagnola was immersed, these works are distinguished not by narrative dynamics, but by emblematic condensation and tranquility, reflecting the uneventfulness of Arcadian life.
This all-encompassing peace can be found in Campagnola’s print depicting St. Jerome, who reads in a landscape against a backdrop of buildings and the Venetian lagoon in the distance (Fig. 1).15 Nature is presented as a pleasant retreat that nurtures spirituality, scholarly study and contemplation, as described in Petrarch’s De vita solitaria.16 This harmonious natural world is made pastoral through the inclusion of a specific element: while the delicately drawn lion is a standard attribute of St. Jerome, the man leaning on his staff at the edge of a thicket has no relevance to the saint’s story or iconography. He is part of the landscape, an echo of shepherds leaning on their crooks as well as of the figures that feature in Giorgione’s compositions.
The print of the reclining Saturn17 combines the motif of a figure in repose in a bucolic landscape with poetic melancholy, both fundamental Arcadian themes. Saturn represents the memory of the Golden Age, described by Virgil in his fourth Eclogue, “Saturnia regna,” as a melancholy glimmer, a longing for the lost, better past of Arcadia.18
Emblematic and enigmatic, these compact motifs set within pleasant landscapes against the backdrop of a town or village, and suffused with a mood of contemplation, were enlarged in Campagnola’s explicitly pastoral19 prints, featuring shepherds who may or may not be accompanied by their flocks, but almost always by their flutes. The Young Shepherd20 sits in the shade of a tree and holds a double flute (Fig. 2); the traditional title ignores the presence of the old shepherd, lying at the boy’s feet with only his head visible at the edge of the image.21 The juxtaposition of young and old introduces the theme of life and death—the fundamental issue of human existence—which figures in the songs of Arcadian shepherds, and at the same time pictures the necessary counterpart of the singing shepherd, the listener. Numerous literary episodes invoke this theme as well, such as the meeting of younger herders such as Serrano and Ergasto with the old Opico in Sannazaro.22
The main figure in the Old Shepherd,23 who leans against a saddle beside his animals and plays his flute (Fig. 3), also reflects literary models such as Opico, or Tityrus, the “blessed old man” in Virgil’s first Eclogue.24 The low genus of the music he plays is suggested by his position and simple clothes: it is a “humble sound”25 played on a “humble pipe of Coridone”26—the melody of Arcadia.
The female counterparts of the shepherds are the nymphs, the nature goddesses of Arcadia. Campagnola’s reclining nude,27 with her back to the viewer, should perhaps be read as a nymph, though she is usually identified as Venus, the goddess of love, and is closely related to Giorgione’s Dresden Venus (Fig. 4). The figure may be identified with the work noted by Marcantonio Michiel in the 16th century—“a nude drawn from Giorgione, reclining and turned”28—and also with a passage in Sannazaro’s Arcadia: shepherds approach the Temple of Pales and admire its frescoes, among them a Venus whose beauty so defied reproduction, the artist had chosen to present her with her back turned.29
The engraving Concert by the brook (ca. 1517)30 (Fig. 5) corresponds exceptionally well to The Pastoral Concert in the Louvre as a pictorial evocation of Arcadia. Traditionally attributed to Giulio Campagnola and his adopted son Domenico, it shows a group of musicians with their instruments, lounging in a leafy grove. Oddly, while the presence of a sheep suggests a pastorale, the string instruments (rather than a pipe) and elegant clothes clearly show that, like the male figures in the Louvre painting, these are not shepherds but sophisticated city dwellers. The architectural elements alwayspresent in these pictures represent an intellectual counterpart to nature’s simplicity, and also a point of reference: it is as an alternative for city dwellers that Arcadia exerts its interest. A babbling brook and a mountain backdrop in the distance are complemented here by the human settlement on the hilly, overgrown landscape. A study for this print is preserved in the Louvre, and the changes made in the engraving, mainly to the figures in shadow, suggest the work was initially conceived and designed by Giulio Campagnola, then finished by Domenico.31 Apparently the original rural figures were replaced by the courtly concert society we now see, enhancing the contrast between urban and pastoral worlds. The composition is arranged not so much as experiential and constructed space, but rather as a Stimmungslandschaft whose atmosphere is conveyed through delicate and diverse surface structures and line patterns.32
In this and other engravings, such details show how poetic fictions became pictorial fictions, creating new humanist-literary images of a harmonious alternative world while exploring the artistic possibilities of a relatively young medium. Campagnola drew inspiration from Albrecht Dürer,33 apparently fascinated by his virtuosic handling of line, his practice of modeling form through curved hatchmarks (both parallel lines and crosshatching), and his ability to harmonize a landscape with figures within a graphic realm. Konrad Oberhuber notes that “Giulio recognized from the start the pictorial possibilities inherent in Dürer’s early prints,” but adapted the master’s curved parallel strokes, grouping them more densely, “so as to form vibrating patches of shadow, contrasted with shimmering highlights.”34 By exploiting the potential inherent in the juxtaposition of saturated black ink and the bright paper, Campagnola was able to achieve a multifaceted representation—the distinct engraved line withdraws in favor of a tonal evocation of space and landscape (a quality he may have adapted from miniature painting). It is the special charm of his engravings—a “dreamlike and poetic rendering of reality.”35
Of particular significance in this regard is John the Baptist,36 Campagnola’s largest engraving, which displays two expressive modes (Fig. 6). The figure, wrapped in folds of fabric, cannot conceal its debt to Andrea Mantegna in the clear, chiseled contours engraved in strong lines. In his presentation of the landscape behind, on the other hand, Giulio forgoes line in favor of stippled dots. This is particularly remarkable in the lounging shepherds with their flocks (Fig. 7). Implied rather than concretely rendered, they offer a pronounced contrast to the clearly delineated saint (though the internal structure of his robe is also stippled). The shepherds and sheep (or is it a townsman and a nymph?) blur into the atmospheric distance. Close analysis reveals that this evocative stippling was prepared by tiny delicate lines that remain visible beneath and adjacent to the dots in some places; in other places, line dissolves into a narrow string of dots reminiscent of pricking techniques for transferring drawings (spolvero).
A pricked preliminary drawing for this landscape exists at the Louvre, and perhaps the idea of rendering contours with dots derived from the transfer process. In any event, Giulio seems to have invented his stipple technique to transfer the painterly character of this delicate brush drawing37 onto the plate. The dots impart an overall softness to the landscape, reminiscent of Giorgione’s painting but with a new sensibility.38 Oberhuber and Arthur M. Hind have observed how particularly suited the technique is to rendering the character of Giorgione, as it “tends towards poetic suggestiveness rather than the explicit statement and seeks to evoke a mood rather than to present a clear narrative.”39 Just as some of Mantegna’s engravings sought to imitate the drawn stroke of a pen, these works create a pictorial two-dimensionality and an overall atmospheric effect of painting. Campagnola’s stippling goes beyond imitation to depict a harmony between nature and the human figure. In the nude discussed earlier (Fig. 4), only stippling is used, without any line; the delicate transitions show an ideal union, as well as a specific, graphic, expressive power.40
A small Campagnola painting at the Brooklyn Museum of Art includes a similar female nude, also seen from the back but standing rather than reclining. Remarkably, she is also modeled from tiny, individually distinct brush marks, a technique Campagnola possibly transferred to the copper plate.41 He may have leaned toward making some prints more painterly and others more linear and graphic depending on whether a painting or drawing had provided the model.42 We can assume the use of dots or lines was deployed strategically on a case-by-case basis, rather than as part of the artist’s stylistic trajectory (and thus should not be used to deduce his chronological development).43 Young Shepherd and Old Shepherd, for example, feature a combination of stipple and line, the former further enhancing the differentiation between landscape and figure. This method is also apparent in the so-called Astrologer,44 which exists in Berlin in a unique impression of the first state where no dots can be seen; Campagnola added stippling later for the fine modeling of the landscape, the dots made by tiny flicks of the burin, and perhaps also a punch. The brightness of the paper ground is of particular importance in the representation of atmospheric effects; here its contrast with the dark printed areas created a “luminous quality of light and roundness” in these exquisitely printed impressions.45
This technique of dots and minute lines deployed to produce a full tonal range from deep black to bright white created a vibrant surface, rich in nuance, which matched the delicate mood of Giorgione’s paintings and ultimately that of Sannazaro’s Arcadia. As can be seen in the shepherd group behind St. John and also in the Nude, the human figure becomes an attribute of the (pastoral) landscape, physically rather than narratively united. In contrast to literary Arcadia, but in accordance with Giorgione, Giulio does not picture idyllic or even sweet nature. His landscapes are not places of pure, golden happiness; they are balanced between light and shadow, young and old, city and country, death and life. He approaches his subjects with a scholarly seriousness, as Francesco Sorce writes: “far from presenting enchanting landscapes and serene worlds, [Campagnola’s prints] seem to intervene competently in philosophical debates.”46
Poetry and painting share the creative power of invention and meet in numerous examples of ekphrasis in Sannazaro’s Arcadia, just as they are joined in Giulio Campagnola’s engraved inventions.47 Campagnola thus creates a parallel to the poetics of Sannazaro and the painting of Giorgione and Titian, “a new nature produced by art.”48 The analogy between Arcadia and Campagnola’s poetic engravings can be further developed. The use of line and stipple as means of design can be compared to Sannazaro’s combination of prose and poetry in the Arcadia. Line, like prose, tends to be definitive, circumscribing, dynamic and narrative, while dots, in their ability to create mood, atmosphere and harmony, approximate poetry. The painterly picturesque as well as the poetic are essential features of the Arcadian image, and are exceptionally rendered in Campagnola’s prints.49
- Ulrich Töns, “Sannazaros Arcadia. Wirkung und Wandlung der vergilischen Ekloge,” in Antike und Abendland 23 (1977): 143–161, 153.
- See Enrico Carrara, La poesia pastorale (Milan: 1909), 242–257 (on Ferrara) and 257–268 (on Mantua).
- On the dissemination of bucolic poetry in Northern Italy, see E. Kegel-Brinkgreve, The Echoing Woods. Bucolic and Pastoral from Theocritus to Wordsworth (Amsterdam: J. C. Gieben, 1990), 295. On the popularity of Sannazaro’s Arcadia in Venice, see Luba Freedman, The Classical Pastoral in the Visual Arts (Peter Lang: New York, 1989), 113.
- “A risvegliar le addormentate selve e a mostrare a´ pastori di cantare le già dimenticate canzoni”: Jacopo Sannazaro, Arcadia, ed. Francesco Erspamer (Milan: Mursia, 1990), 241.
- Several editions were printed in Venice at the beginning of the 16th century by Bernardino da Vercelli, among others. See William J. Kennedy, Jacopo Sannazaro and the Uses of Pastoral (Hanover, NH, University Press of New England: 1983), 97-99; Alfredo Mauro, “Le prime edizioni dell´Arcadia di Sannazaro,” Giornale italiano di filologia 2 (1949): 341– 51.
- Paris, Musée du Louvre, Inv. 71. See Christophe Brouard, “Le Concert champêtre du Louvre—fortune et interprétation,” Di là dal fiume e tra gli alberi, ed. Laura De Fuccia and Christophe Brouard (Ravenna: Georgio Pozzi Editore, 2012), 99–122; Alessandro Ballarin et al., Le siècle de Titien. L´âge d’òr de la peinture à Venise, exh. cat. 43 (Paris: Grand Palais, 1993), 392–400.
- Ernst H. Gombrich, “Die Kunsttheorie der Renaissance und die Entstehung der Landschaftsmalerei,“ in Die Kunst der Renaissance I. Norm und Form (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1985), 146.
- On “Stimmungslandschaften,” see Herbert von Einem, Giorgione—der Maler als Dichter (Mainz/Wiesbaden: Akademie Der Wissenschaften und der Literatur/Franz Steiner, 1972), 5–29, 11. On the prints, see Antonio Carradore, “Giulio Campagnola, un artista umanista,” Venezia Cinquecento 20 (2010): 40, 55–134, 78.
- “Imitazioni o derivazioni, ma ‘invenzioni’, atte a creare una propria figurazione.” Carradore, “Giulio Campagnola,” 78.
- See David Alan Brown, “Giulio Campagnola. The Printmaker as a Painter,” Artibus et historiae 31 (2010): 61, 83–97, 93.
- See The Illustrated Bartsch (=TIB) / Early Italian masters, Vol. 7, ed. Mark J. Zucker (Abaris Books: New York 1984), 463. Giulio’s work appears to have enjoyed enormous success, as evidenced by the numerous surviving copies.
- “Nymphae, Satyri et monticolae Silvani.” See De eeuw van Titiaan, ed. Gert Jan van der Sman, exh. cat. (Zwolle: Waanders Uitgevers, 2002), 61, and Carradore, “Giulio Campagnola,” 109.
- See for example Francesco Sorce, “Di ninfe, astrologi e pastori. Studi di iconologia sulle incisioni di Giulio Campagnola,” in Venezia Cinquecento 13 (2003–2004): 26, 47–110, or Paul Holberton, “Notes on Giulio Campagnola’s prints,” Print Quarterly 13 (1996): 397–400.
- TIB 2518.004, 469–70; Holberton, “Notes,” 397–98.
- See Dagmar Korbacher, Paradiso and Poesia. Zur Entstehung arkadischer Naturbildlichkeit bis Giorgione (Augsburg: Staden-Verlag, 2007), 77–78.
- See TIB 2518.006, 471–72; Giorgione a Padova: l’enigma del carro, ed. Davide Banzato (Ausstellungskatalog Padua, Musei Civici agli Eremitani), Milan 2010, cat. I.5, 186 (Franca Pellegrini), Franca Pellegrini, Giulio Campagnola, l’amico padovano di Giorgione, in: Giorgione a Padova: l’enigma del carro, ed. Davide Banzato (Ausstellungskatalog Padua, Musei Civici agli Eremitani), Milan 2010, 49–56, 55; Sorce, “Di ninfe,” 54–63; Le siècle de Titien. L´âge d`or de la peinture à Venise (exh. cat. Paris, Grand Palais), Paris 1993, cat. 123, 521–22 (Konrad Oberhuber).
- This mood is enhanced in a print by an artist belonging to the circle of Giulio showing a youth in a toga or cloak contemplating a skull. See TIB 2518.018, 489–90; also, Giorgione a Padova, cat. I.9, 189 (Franca Pellegrini).
- For more detail on Campagnola and pastoral and Arcadian themes: Sorce, Di ninfe, 70–89. On the problem of pastoral landscapes and the overuse of the term “pastoral,” see De eeuw van Titiaan, 61 and 65, n. 14.
- See TIB 2518.009, 476–77; Pellegrini, Giulio Campagnola, 52; Sorce, Di ninfe, 73; De eeuw van Titiaan, cat. II.4, 71; Le siècle de Titien, cat. 125, 522–23 (Konrad Oberhuber).
- See Carradore, Giulio Campagnola, 91.
- See Sannazaro, Arcadia, Prosa 6; Ekloge 6; Prosa 9; Prosa 11, 108–109; 109–116; 150–157; 195–205.
- TIB 2518.010, 478–81; Sorce, Di ninfe, 76; Giorgione a Padova, cat. I.6, S. 186–87 (Franca Pellegrini); Le siècle de Titien, cat. 129, 524 (Konrad Oberhuber); Hans Tietze and Erika Tietze-Conrat refer to a related drawing in Paris. The differences cannot be entirely explained by the “petrification through the graving tool”: “Giulio Campagnola’s engravings,” The Print Collector’s Quarterly, XXIX (1942), 2, 179–207, 192.
- “Fortunate senex.” The subject carries further echoes from the Eclogues (1.78 and 10.7): ee De eeuw van Titiaan, 62. Also Carradore, Giulio Campagnola, 102, 104.
- “umile suono”: Sannazaro, Arcadia, Prologo 6, 55.
- “la umile fistula di Coridone”: Sannazaro, Arcadia, Epilogo 5: A la sampogna, 239.
- See TIB 2518.008, 473–474; Sorce, Di ninfe, 89–97; De eeuw van Titiaan, cat. II.5, S. 72; Le siècle de Titien, cat. 126, 523 (Konrad Oberhuber). On the motif of reclining female nudes, see Millard Meiss, Sleep in Venice. Ancient Myths and Renaissance Proclivities, in: Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 1966, 110.5, 348–82.
- “Una nuda tratta da Zorzi, Stesa e volta”: Der Anonimo Morelliano. Marcantonio Michiel’s Notizia d’opere di disegno, ed. Theodor Frimmel, Wien 1888, S. 22; see also Konrad Oberhuber in Early Italian Engravings from the National Gallery of Art, ed. Jay A. Levenson, Konrad Oberhuber, Jacquelyn L. Sheehan, exh. cat. (Washington:, National Gallery of Art, 1973), 399. A further thematic connection can be recognized in a figure in Marcantonio Raimondi’s engraving “Raphael’s Dream.”
- “diffidandosi di Venere fare sì bella come bisognava, la volta di dipinse spalle”: Sannazaro, Arcadia, Prosa 3, 78. On Carradore, see Giulio Campagnola, 91 and Patricia A. Emison, “Asleep in the grass of Arcady. Giulio Campagnola’s Dreamer,” Renaissance Quarterly, 45. (1992): 271–92, 276.
- TIB 466-467; TIB 2518.013, 486; and TIB 2519.012, 510–11; Giorgione a Padova, cat. I.7, 187 (Franca Pellegrini); Sorce, Di ninfe, 80, 85, 89; Le siècle de Titien, cat. 133, 527 (Konrad Oberhuber); Early Italian Engravings, cat. 150, 410–13 (Konrad Oberhuber).
- Christophe Brouard has recently proposed that the entire work may be from the hand of Domenico: Arkadien: Paradies auf Papier. Landschaft and Mythos in Italien, ed. Dagmar Korbacher, exh. cat. (Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett), cat. 49, 158–59.
- See Konrad Oberhuber in Early Italian Engravings, 392, on weaknesses in the representation of landscape and depth.
- The influence of Dürer extends to both thematic connections and technical details, mainly found in the following works: Penitence of Saint Chrysostomos (TIB 2518.003, 467–68), Gany-med (TIB 2518.007, 472–73; De eeuw van Titiaan (cat. II.2, 68) or the fragment of a landscape (TIB 2518.012, 485).
- See Konrad Oberhuber, Introduction, in Early Italian Engravings, xxiii.
- Ibid, 393.
- See TIB 2518.005, 470–471; Frühe Kupferstiche aus Italien, ed. Gudula Metze, exh. cat. (Dresden, Kupferstich-Kabinett, 2013), cat. 183, 236 (Gudula Metze); Giorgione a Padova, cat. I.4, S. 185 (Franca Pellegrini); De eeuw van Titiaan, cat. II.1, 66; Early Italian Engravings, cat. 149, S. 402–409 (Konrad Oberhuber); Le siècle de Titien, cat. 124, 522 (Konrad Oberhuber).
- See Early Italian Engravings, cat. 149, 406 (Konrad Oberhuber); Paris, Musée du Louvre (RF 1979).
- “Sensibilità paesistica,” Carradore, Giulio Campagnola, 86.
- Peter Humfrey and Martin Kemp, Giorgione, in: Dictionary of Art, Vol. 12, 668–79, 669.
- TIB 2518.008, 473–74.
- Brooklyn Museum of Art, oil on paper mounted on canvas, 19.1 x 16. 5 cm; see Keith Christiansen, “A Proposal for Giulio Campagnola Pittore,” Hommage à Michel Laclotte. Etudes sur la peinture du Moyen Age et de la Renaissance (Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 1994), 344–55.
- See Tietze/Tietze-Conrat, Giulio Campagnola’s Engravings, 195.
- Konrad Oberhuber questions the linearity of technical development (Konrad Oberhuber in Early Italian Engravings, 390–401). On the dating of the works see Gudula Metze in: Frühe Kupferstiche aus Italien, 235.
- See De eeuw van Titiaan, cat. II.3, 70.
- See Oberhuber in Early Italian Engravings, cat. 149, 406.
- “le stampe realizzate da Campagnola che, lungi dal presentare paesaggi incantati e mondi sereni, paiono intervenire con competenza nel dibattito filosofico.” Sorce, Di ninfe, 73.
- See also Paolo Pino, Dialogo della Pittura: “La pittura è poesia cioè invenzione.”
- “una nuova natura prodotta dall’arte.” Carlo Ridolfi, Le maraviglie dall‘arte, (Venedig: 1648), and Vita di Giorgione Da Castel Franco Pittore, ed. Detlev Freiherrn von Hadeln, vol. 1 (Berlin: 1914), 95.
- For example, the sunset described by Sannazaro, Arcadia, Prosa 5,1, 95.