Giulio Campagnola was born at Padua, in about 1482. His father Girolamo was a distinguished writer, and an amateur painter. Giulio, it seems, showed precocious artistic talent, and efforts were made to place him in the Gonzaga Court at Mantua, so that he could study painting under Andrea Mantegna. Instead, he went to the Court of Ercole I, Duke of Ferrara, although some accounts mention him as one of Giovanni Bellini’s pupils. An archetypal ‘Renaissance Man’, Campagnola was a painter, sculptor, poet, musician and scholar. It is as an engraver, however, that he is best remembered.
The engraving known as The Astrologer is probably Campagnola’s most famous image. It is the only one of his works that is dated: 1509. The odd-looking monster is, according to Jaynie Anderson’s monograph on Giorgione, a dragon: such beasts, she writes, were often depicted in connection with lunar eclipses, and indeed there were two such events in that year.