The Life and Works of Vittorio Carpaccio

By Pompeo Molmenti; Gustav Ludwig et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
THE TIMES, THE CONTEMPORARIES, THE PROTECTORS, AND THE STUDIES OF VETTOR CARPACCIO

EVERYONE now recognizes even in its intellectual form the action of the law of environment upon the human organism. No genius, however original, stands altogether isolated from common life. Rather does he live and develope in correspondence with the customs and the culture of his period; and the work of art considered by itself is a living organism, like a plant which only flourishes under certain conditions, outside which it withers and dies. For this reason the natural attitude of a people variously disposed towards aesthetics by diversity of race, climate and time exercises a mighty influence upon its works of art. Thus in Tuscany the aesthetic sense, tempered by the grace, simplicity and harmonious unison of its scenery, creates an Art whose typical features are refinement of characteristic and delicate outline, and spiritual distinction of form. In Venice the luminous atmosphere that floods the mirror of the Lagoons, robbing the outlines of all distinctness, and kindling and uniting the most varied colouring in wondrous harmony, necessarily evolved a style of painting that would reflect in the brilliant fusion of its tints the splendour and sensuousness alike of the scenery and of the civilization that surrounded it. From the earliest period of Venetian Art the painters, yet timid and inex+00AD perienced, but born and living amid the opalescence of sky and waters, the effulgence of Byzantine mosaic and the gorgeous hues of Oriental stuffs, one and all manifest a taste for colour and a sense of decorative effect which are as the reflection of a joyous spirit and of a life instinct with pomp and pageant.

Of this world and of this life Carpaccio is the ablest exponent, and the interest with which his work is now studied is due not only to the purity and nobility of his art, but also to the fact that he affords so truthful and vivid description of Venice in the

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