Castelfranco Veneto is only a half hour drive from where we live and our nearest train station. Yesterday afternoon, we went for a coffee in the main square before strolling around and imagining what the town would have been like in the early 16th Century when viewed by Giorgione, the enigmatic artist and hero of the historical sections of my novel, Lady of Asolo.
Not much is known about his life, which is why I feel at liberty to invent a story about him and his muse. This is his self-portrait.
His statue also suggests a charismatic hero
but the buildings within would be new to him if he came back today.
His masterpiece in the Costanzo chapel is housed in a renovated cathedral.
It’s a painting done on wood and represents the Virgin and Holy Child with St Francis on the right and a St Nicasius of the Order of the Knights of Malta in armour on the left. Tuzio Costanzo commissioned the work as a memorial for his son, Matteo, who died a young soldier. The Costanzo coat of arms is on the base of the Virgin’s throne. Tuzio had been in service to Queen Caterina Cornaro, the lady of my novel, in Cyprus, and the Venetian Republic, fearful of his loyalty to Caterina, sent him back to his family in Castelfranco. The painting shows the local landscape in the background, typical of Giorgione’s style. It’s claimed he invented the easel and there’s a legend about his love for la Bella Cecilia, his model. Apparently, the words, “Vieni Ceciia/ Vienti t’affretta/ Il tuo t’aspetta/ Giorgio – Come, Cecilia. Come quickly. Your Giorgio is waiting for you,” were found scribbled on the back of the painting before an early restoration. Who knows if they are true as the evidence is long gone? I like to think there is some truth in the love story and am building my plot around it.
Only the passage of time has changed the scene from how Giorgione sketched it over five hundred years ago.
With heavy sighs, we returned to the 21st Century and a visit to the supermarket for our weekly shop. What would Giorgione have made of the abundance of food, modern packaging, canned music and electronic tills?