Giorgione’s Castelfranco Altarpiece: ‘a painting by a skilful artist, whose memory deserves to be preserved’

In June 1503, the stonemason Jacopo and his son Domenico received ten ducats for the construction of two chapels in the church of San Liberale in the small Veneto town of Castelfranco. A year later, in August 1504, the Cypriot condottiere Tuzio Costanzo buried the body of his beloved son Matteo in one of them. The altarpiece that Tuzio commissioned represents a singular moment in the brief but extraordinary career of the local artist Giorgione. In the light of unpublished archival sources that span five centuries, this paper will reconstruct the “biography” of Giorgione’s only surviving altarpiece, addressing issues of date and display, as well as the painting’s later reception, highlighting the role of the Barbarella family in its preservation.

Georgios E. Markou received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge for his dissertation on the artistic patronage of the Cypriot nobles in Renaissance Venice and the Veneto. His research has been supported by the Sylvia Ioannou Foundation, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Francis Haskell Memorial Fund and the Faculty of Architecture and History of Art at the University of Cambridge. His 2017 article “Bonifacio de’ Pitati’s Triumphs by Petrarch and their Cypriot Patron” was the first essay on Cypriot Renaissance patrons to appear in the Burlington Magazine and his forthcoming publications include the examination of a painting by Giovanni Bellini and the art collection of the opera composer Francesco Cavalli.


The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London