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The Mintage
Being Ten Stories & One More

written by "Hubbard, Elbert, 1856-1915"
... and tie up for lunch, over a bottle of Chianti, your gondolier will tell you this: The hunchback there in the gondola, rowed by the Master, is the Devil, who has taken that form just to be with and guard the greatest artist the world has ever seen. Yes, Signor, that clean-faced man with his frank, wide-open, brown eyes is in league with the Evil One. He is the man who took young Tiziano from Cadore into his shop, right out of a glass-factory, and made him a great artist, getting him commissions and introducing him everywhere! And how about the divine Giorgione who called him father? Oho! And who is Giorgione? The son of some unknown peasant woman. And if Bellini wanted to adopt him, treat him as his son indeed, kissing him on the cheek [Pg 115] when he came back just from a day’s visit to Mestre, whose business was it! Oho! Beside that, his name isn’t Giorgione—it is Giorgio Barbarelli. And didn’t this Giorgio Barbarelli, and Tiziano from Cadore, and Espero Carbonne, and that Gustavo from Nuremberg, and the others paint most of Gian’s pictures? Surely they did. The old man simply washes in the backgrounds and the boys do the work. About all old Gian does is to sign the picture, sell it and pocket the proceeds. Carpaccio helps him, too—Carpaccio who painted the loveliest little angel sitting cross-legged playing the biggest mandolin you ever saw in your life. That is genius, you know, the ability to get some one else to do the work, and then capture the ducats and the honors for yourself. Of course, Gian knows how to lure the boys on—something has to be done in order to hold them. Gian buys a picture from them now and then; his [Pg 116] studio is full of their work—better than he can do. Oh, he knows a good thing when he sees it. These pictures will be valuable some day, and he gets them at his own price. It was Antonello of Messina who introduced oil-painting into Venice. Before that they ...

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