Palma, Giacopo (2)

Palma, Giacopo (2), called Il Giovine (i.e." the younger"), to distinguish him from the preceding artist, his great-uncle, was born at Venice, according to Ridolfi, in 1544. There is as much contradiction about this artist as about his great-uncle, and we therefore depend solely on Lanzi. He was the son of Antonio Palma, an artist of confined genius, who instructed him in the rudiments of his art. He early exercised himself in copying the works of Titian and other Venetian painters. Ridolf says that he studied with Titian, and others say that he was the scholar of Tintoretto; the last assertion is highly improbable. At the age of fifteen he was taken under the protection of the duke of Urbino, and accompanied him to his capital. The duke afterwards sent him to Rome, where he resided eight years, and laid a good foundation for designing from the antique, by copying from the works of Michael Angelo and Raffaelle, and particularly by studying the chiaroscuros of Polidoro da Caravaggio. The last was his great model,. and next to him came Tintoretto, Palma being naturally induced, like them, to animate his figures with a certain freedom of action and a spirit peculiarly his own. His abilities were noted by the pope and Giacopo junior was employed to decorate an apartment in the Vatican. On his return to Venice he distinguished himself by several works conducted with extraordinary care and diligence, which gained him much reputation. Lanzi says, "There are not wanting professors who have bestowed upon him a very high degree of praise for displaying the excellent maxims of the Roman school, united to what was best of the Venetian." He was, however, but little employed, and only obtained the third rank; and even this chiefly through the means of Vittoria, a distinguished sculptor and architect, who was considered an excellent judge and arbiter of works of art. Palma, by Vittoria's aid, soon came into general notice, and on the death of his antagonists he was overwhelmed with commissions. Lanzi observes of Palma that he was an artist who might equally be entitled the last of' the good age and the first of the bad. When he found his reputation established, and himself almost without a competitor, he began to relax his diligence by such rapidity of execution that Lanzi says many of his works may be pronounced rough drafts. "In order to prevail upon him to produce a piece worthy of his name, it became requisite not only to allow him the full time he pleased, but the full price he chose to ask." Upon such terms he executed the fine picture of S. Benedetto for the church of SS. Cosmo and'Damiano for the noble family of Mora. Such are his Santa Apollonia at Cremona, his St. Ubaldo, and his Annunciation at Pesara; his Finding of the Cross at Urbino, and other valuable specimens scattered elsewhere. In these his tints are fresh, sweet, and clear; less splendid than those of Veronese, but more pleasing than in Tintoretto. Among his best works at Venice are the Deposition from the Cross, in the church of S. Niccolo dei Fratri; the Martyrdom of St. James, in S. Giacomo del Ono; Christ taken in the Garden, in La Trinith; the Visitation of the Virgin to St. Elizabeth, in S. Elizabetta; and the Plague of the Serpents, at S. Bartolomeo. The last, though a revolting subject, which strikes horror in the beholder, is one of his masterly productions, and equal to Tintoretto. Palma died in 1628. We have quite a number of etchings by this eminent artist, executed in a spirited and masterly style. Bartsch gives a list of twenty-seven. They are sometimes marked with his name in full, and sometimes with a monogram composed of a P crossed with a palm-branch. The following are the principal: Samson and Delilah; Judith putting the Head of Holofernes into a Sack, held by an attendant; the Nativity; the Holy Family, with St. Jerome and St. Francis; St. John in the Wilderness; the Decollation of St. John; the Tribute Money; the Adulteress before Christ; Christ answering the Pharisees who disputed his Authority; the Incredulity of St. Thomas; St. Jerome in Conference with Pope Damasus — scarce; an ecclesiastic and a naked figure, with two boys.

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