Born in the city of Bassano del Grappa, near Venice, Giacomo da Ponte, also known as Jacopo da Ponte or Jacopo Bassono for his birthplace, was from a family of painters. His father Francesco Bassano (1475 – 1539) was an artist as were his sons Gerolamo (1566 – 1621), Giovanni Battista (1553 – 1613), Leandro (1557 – 1622) and Francesco the Younger (1559 – 1592). Jacopo also studied with the Venetian artist, Bonifacio Veronese (1487 – 1557), which greatly influenced him in the style of Venetian masters such as, Giorgione (1477 – 1510) and Titian (1485 – 1576).
Bassono even honored Titian by painting his portrait as a moneychanger in his piece, Purification of the Temple. With his sons he opened a studio in Bassano, executing several praised works at the time. Some of the works are not easily distinguished as individual painters; though still reveal a unique style blending the Venetian School and that of Mannerism. Bassono’s unnatural forms were reflective of Mannerism, though even more experimental in ways. His depictions of landscapes and animals were enhanced by his detailed use of light. Even in his religious subjects, he gave a great amount of detail to the natural environment and non-human forms. This is seen in his depiction of the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve with Animals rest in the lower foreground to a lush, mountainous landscape.
He would even stray from the traditional focus of strictly religious or mythological works of the time, heralding the 17th century genre painters; exampled by his piece, Sheep and Lamb or Two Dogs, the latter now in the Uffizi Gallery. In the Uffizi also hangs his, Moses and the Burning Bush, Annunciation to the Shepherds, Judas and Tamar, and Portrait of an Artist. Several of his works are also in the Museo Civico in Bassano del Grappa.
Other notable works include, Jacob’s Return to Canaan, Dives and Lazarus, Acteon and the Nymphs and The Last Supper. The latter piece, often said to be a masterpiece of 16th century Italians, captures rich Venetian coloring brilliantly, emulating his contemporary, Tintoretto (1518 – 1594).
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