Giovanni Antonio da Pordenone

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Giovanni Antonio da Pordenone
(ca. 1483–1539)

Crucifixion

1520–21
Red chalk
7 1/8 x 8 inches (180 x 204 mm.)

Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909

IV, 69
Exhibition label: 

Pordenone used this quick exploratory sketch to map out the initial design for his fresco of the Crucifixion painted in 1520–21 on the inner wall of the facade of Cremona cathedral. In order to incorporate changes to the composition, the sheet was cut at the right, where the artist inserted the rectangular piece with the horseman.

The Cremona frescoes are remarkable for their violent expressivity, which borrowed elements from northern painting and prints.

Exhibition section: 

Terraferma

At the beginning of the sixteenth century, Venice's mainland possessions, called the terraferma, stretched westward from Udine nearly all the way to Milan and included Padua, Vicenza, Verona, Brescia, and Bergamo. These Venetian strongholds ensured a continuous food supply and safeguarded trading routes to the north. Even though Venice's enemies combined to form the League of Cambrai and defeated the city in 1509, much of the mainland territory was recovered within a decade.

Venice's political independence and unified territories allowed artists considerable mobility. Some preferred to return to their native cities in Lombardy, Friuli, or the Veneto, where they established flourishing workshops. Distinctive local traditions—such as the realism of the Lombard painters of Bergamo and Brescia—also endured. The Veneto area in particular served as a country retreat for Venice's patrician families, who erected idyllic villas in the classical tradition designed by Andrea Palladio.