(b Castelfranco [now Castelfranco Veneto], c.1477; d Venice, Oct. 1510). Venetian painter. Almost nothing is known of his life and only a handful of paintings can be confidently attributed to him, but he holds a momentous place in the history of art. He had achieved legendary status soon after his early death (evidently from plague) and through succeeding centuries he has continued to excite the imagination in a way that few other painters can match. The extraordinary discrepancy between his enormous fame and the tiny size of his oeuvre is explained by the fact that he initiated a new conception of painting. He was one of the earliest artists to specialize in cabinet pictures for private collectors rather than works for public or ecclesiastical patrons, and he was the first painter who subordinated subject matter to the evocation of mood—it is clear that his contemporaries sometimes did not know what was represented in his pictures. Vasari, who says that Giorgione earned his nickname—meaning ‘Big George’—‘because of his physical appearance and his moral and intellectual stature’, ranked him alongside Leonardo as one of the founders of ‘modern’ painting.Giorgione's home town is about 40 km (25 miles) north-west of Venice, where as far as is known he spent all his career. According to Vasari he trained with Giovanni Bellini (although it has also been suggested that Carpaccio may have been his teacher). He had two important public commissions in Venice: in 1507–8 he painted a canvas (now lost without trace) for the audience chamber of the Doges' Palace; and in 1508 (together with Titian) he painted frescos on the exterior of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi (the German warehouse), now known only through engravings and ruinous fragments.