“New” Giorgione : Crowe and Cavalcaselle, Pater, and Morelli
Uglow, Luke Stephen
This thesis concerns a shift in the historiography of the Venetian painter Giorgione (c1477- 1510). In important ways, this change was caused by Joseph Archer Crowe (1825-1896) and Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle (1819-1897) in their A History of Painting in North Italy (1871). This text met seminal reactions from Walter Pater (1839-1894) in his essay “The School of Giorgione” (1877) and from Giovanni Morelli (1816-1891) in his Die Werke italienischer Meister in den Galerien von München, Dresden und Berlin (1880). Following a method of close reading, the analysis will concentrate on the intertextual relationship between these three works. This thesis contends that Crowe and Cavalcaselle comprehensively problematised scholarship on the artist, creating a “new” Giorgione; that Pater responded dialectally to scientific connoisseurship with aesthetic criticism, intellectually justifying and morally absolving his interpretation; that Morelli responded by offering a noticeably different catalogue of paintings, and by making Giorgione function within his anti-authoritarian rhetoric as a validation for his method; however, in so doing, Morelli was conducting an ironic problematisation of connoisseurship in general. The thesis begins with an introduction to the “old” Giorgione, before discussing the concepts of aestheticism and connoisseurship. It is then divided into three studies and a conclusion. The first part considers how the artist was understood in the nineteenth century prior to Crowe and Cavalcaselle’s research, before discussing the nature of the two connoisseurs’ enquiry. The second part focuses on Pater and his relationship with Giorgione, placing his essay in the context of The Renaissance (1873); after this the study follows Pater as he defines his theory of aesthetic criticism and responds to what he understands as scientific history, before analysing his interpretation of Giorgione. The third and final part of this thesis will seek to understand Morelli’s ambiguous text and the function of the artist within it; examining his method, rhetoric, and polemic with Crowe and Cavalcaselle, it will conclude by arguing that irony was an active concept in Morelli’s thinking. By attending to a specific artist’s historiography at a particular time, this thesis indirectly reveals the way art history on Italian painting operated in this period, when the discipline was undergoing the processes of professionalisation and institutionalisation.