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Titan's arch rival

Pordenone's SS Martin and Christopher, in S. Rocco

Il Pordenone (Giovanni de’ Sacchis, 1484–1539) adopted the name of his birthplace in Friuli, after falling out with brother, who wounded him in the hand.

He was a student of Pellegrino di San Daniele and follower of Giorgione, and known in his day as a pictor modernus, for his monumental Roman style, quick brush strokes and a tendency to Mannerism and the bizarre. His most daring work in Venice, a series of breathtakingly foreshortened frescoes on Old Testament themes in the cloister of Santo Stefano have all but vanished, although Titian's takes on them survive in Santa Maria della Salute.

Pordenone seems to have been an unusually prickly character; according to court records, he hired a murderer to kill his brother in order to inherit all of his father's estate. He reputedly always wore a sword, in case he should happen upon his chief rival, Titian. In 1539 he was invited to work in Ferrara by Duke Ercole II, but died soon after, perhaps (as rumour had it) poisoned by Titian.

In Venice, San Giovanni Elemosinario is the best place to see his work (the church also has an altarpiece by Titian). Other paintings are in the Accademia, Santa Maria degli Angeli, Museo Diocesano Sant' Apollonia, the Ca' d'Oro and church of San Rocco.

High Renaissance


Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Image by PD Art