Unravelling Giorgione's Tempest

July 28, 2010

Giorgione. The Tempest. c.1506-9. Gallerie Dell'Academia, Venice

Tempest is a work attributed to Venetian Master Giorgione. He was, even during his life time, commonly referred to as Giorgione (Giorgio The Great), which Vasari tells us was a nickname earnt due to the "greatness of the stature of his mind".

Whilst some hold that The Pastoral Concert is a Giorgione concept, perhaps finished by Titian, the painting seen exclusively as the definitive Giorgione masterpiece is Tempest. 

A lot has been surmised about this painting, including a range of interpretations ranging from pastoral arcadian, mythological, to biblical. Amidst all this speculation however, two things are certain... the dominance and beauty of the natural setting - with the impending storm(tempest) churning away in the background. Then there are the deliberate motifs associated with the two figures.

Even if they were portraits of actual persons, the poses and situations they have been placed in give them a meaning more than their identity alone. The male is youthful, healthy and handsome. The woman is also youthful, but also has the radiance of fertility and motherhood, as well as a deep underlying sensuality that Tempest is really driving our thoughts towards.

It must be remembered that this was a private commission, painted for a leading Venetian intellectual and Patron of the Arts, Gabriele Vendramin. Whilst still hanging in Vendramin's home in 1530, Venetian writer Marcantinio Michiel - who wrote extensively on collections of the day -  described it as "the little landscape on canvas with a tempest, a gypsy woman and a soldier."

Whether this was an actual description handed to Michiel from Vendramin, or a personal interpretation, we are not sure. As with much of Giorgione's work, the mode of depiction, and the multiplicity of meanings adds to its magic and mystery.


Adding to the numerous classical readings of Tempest made over the years,  is the explanation offered by Waldemar Januszczak, as presented in his lovely short format documentary Every Painting Tells A Story (2003-4). This series looked at a total of 8 works, including The Arnolfini Portrait by van Eyck, Botticelli's Birth of Venus and Caravaggio's Boy Bitten By A Lizard.

Januszczak draws on a tale related by Homer in The Odyssey. The thunderbolt, the Crane, the shortened column, all point toward the story of Demeter and Iasion, and the vengeful Zeus, who struck Iasion with a thunderbolt, cutting his life short. Students of mythology will also know that the Crane is a symbol of Demeter, as the thunderbolt is of Zeus. In an historical context,  some argument has also been put forward that the bird is symbol of vigilance in the ongoing battles in the War of The League of Cambrai.

edit:  Following some highly insightful contributions from Dr. Frank DeStefano in the comments to this post, I would like to present a direct link to his work here. Frank has done some interesting research into The Tempest, examining its as an unique depiction of The Rest during the Flight into Egypt, a common subject for artists since Medieval times. 

His recent research on the bird is particularly fascinating, and definitely nudges the interpretation of that symbol in the Biblical direction. See the post A Grey Heron for more details. Below is the Psalm in question. Kudos to Frank for his persistence and thoroughness, and for sharing his findings with 3PP.


I live in a desert like the pelican,
In a ruin like the screech owl,
I stay awake, lamenting
Like a lone bird on the roof;
[Jerusalem Bible, Psalm 102]

Giorgione's bird is literally a couple of tiny dabs of paint. This image is taken from a close-up shown in the documentary, run through a software noise reduction filter to improve clarity

Regardless of whether one subscribes to his particular reading or not, I personally love Waldemar Januszczak's quirky style. His growing list of amazing documentaries are available for purchase from his production company's site, ZCZ Films. His series on the Baroque in particular is very engaging.

Below is a clip from this wonderful episode. If you enjoyed this snippet I recommend you track down the rest of the Every Painting series - they are simply unmissable if you are a fan of Baroque or the Renaissance in particular.

Zeus as a storm cloud is not unique to Tempest in Venetian art. He was a storm cloud spewing thunderbolts in In Titian's Danae

For the complete catalogue of Januszczak's films, go to ZCZ films, where you can view more trailers. There is also a YouTube Channel and Twitter Feed you can follow, for the latest info on new projects, and witty observations and laments as Januszczak treks around the world making his films.

I would like to dedicate this post to Mr. Januszczak's wonderful films - it was in fact  whilst  watching the Every Painting episode on Botticelli's Birth of Venus in late 2009 that the idea to start this site crystallised and became a reality. 

31 comments:

H Niyazi said...

Just wanted to add, the hardware shop at the end of that clip is what remains of the Vendramin family Palazzo. It is described earlier in the overall episode.

H

M said...

This painting has always captured my interest, largely because (as you mentioned) the subject matter is so enigmatic. I've never heard of Waldemar Januszczak's theory before. Quite interesting.

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

Yes! Homer to the rescue! Makes perfect sense. Really, it's hard to imagine that it COULD mean anything else. Really enjoyed that...

Dr. F said...

Januszcak's is another fanciful attempt to find the subject of the Tempesta in classical antiquity. But , the painting has a "sacred" subject, "the Rest of the Holy Family on the Flight into Egypt." I know that a "nude" Madonna is unimaginable, and a young, virile St. Joseph is unusual but see http://www.giorgionetempesta.com for a paper that explains all the major features of the Tempesta.

Has Januszcak never seen a Bellini Madonna with golden or reddish hair? Does the young Man look like he's frightened by the ligntning, miles in the perspective distance? The couple are bathed in bright sunlight. What about the plant, so prominently depicted in the foreground? It's not even discussed. Moreover, why would there be evidence of Padua in the city in the background? What's that got to do with Homer? Finally, even though the painting was found in the home of Vendramin, there is no evidence that he was the original owner. Nevertheless, most of the paintings in his home were sacred subjects.

H Niyazi said...

Hello Dr DeStefano. Thank you for your comments!

Renaissance Art is not bereft of images containing a fusion of sacred and secular symbology.

This is part of the beauty of understanding these works.

As a scientist, interpretations are useful to me as far as they are interesting to read, but they are in no way infallible forms of an evidential process.

We can understand the context of the painting, the History of the topic and the artist, but barring a dated document verifiable as primary evidence of Giorgione's intentions(eg. a letter), it will always be 'informed' speculation.

You yourself have stated,

"Any explanation of the subject of the “Tempesta,” must identify the nude Woman, the Child, and the Man, as well as their relationship. It must also explain such important features as the broken columns; the prominent plant in the foreground; and the city and storm in the background."

I think Mr Januszczak's reading achieves this as equally as yours. In his show, the plant is not mentioned, but as classicists will tell us, Demeter was the Goddess of the Earth and Agriculture. This is easily incorporated into the 'Classical' reading of the painting, as is the fact that the storm is not yet present - like the Crane, it is a warning of vigilance. ie. a storm around the corner.

Your interpretation left out the bird, I was curious about why that was the case (unless I missed it!)

As for the identification of plant. I think Mr Januszczak very wisely left this out of his analysis.

As has been recently demonstrated by this site's report on a plant in a Botticelli image, Art Historians or writers really must consult a botanist when pronouncing an ID on a plant.

The best image I have found of the plant, indicates no flower, which would be conclusive in a qualified botanist pronouncing that depiction as one of atropa belladonna(or similar). At best, it's a "possible"

There is an image here for those curious:
http://2.ly/chpn

Personally, I like to think that both yours and Mr Januszczak's readings can co-exist peacefully. It is a reflection of the genius of Giorgione and his cohorts, to mix these wonderful symbolic concoctions together to make it mean something deep and wonderful to people to from all walks of life, across a long span of time. You are a Historian, commenting above you are an Author and an Art Historian. I myself work in the public Health Service as a clinician....I think this is a wonderful illustration of the diverse appeal of this work!

Kind Regards
H

Dr. F said...

Thanks for your response to my comment about the Tempesta, and thanks for checking out my website.

Very few Renaissance artists left letters behind identifying the subject. Leomardo's Giovanni Bellini's, "St. Francis in the Desert" is a good example of a painting which went mis-identified for years until John Fleming found the source in Franciscan spirituality.

You expect me to produce a Giorgione letter to support my interpretation, but you wax effusively over Januszczak's interpretation with no such evidence. Here is the brief passage in Homer which forms the basis of his theory. Calypso is complaining that Jove objects to her love for Odysseus and refers to demeter's treatment.

""And so again, when the lovely Demeter gave way to her passion and lay in the arms of her beloved Iasion in the thrice -ploughed fallow field, Zeus heard of it quickly enough and struck him dead with his blinding thunderbolt."

That's it! Is that enough to identify Giorgione's Man, Woman, and Child? Why does the Man hold a staff? Why is the Woman draped with a white cloth? What explains the disparity of clothed and nude figure in the same painting? Why is the Child about a year old when Iasion was struck dead shortly after his tryst? Where is the dirt on Demeter's backside that gave her away to Zeus? Where is her other child? She had twins by Iasion.

You see, it is a fanciful theory just like all the others which attempt to sqeeze the pieces of the Tempesta puzzle into a classical framework. Some find the answer in the myth of Paris and Oenone, although they disagree on whether the Man or the Infant is Paris. Others use convoluted reasoning to fit the painting into Virgil or Lucretius. I deal with some of these interpretations in the blog section of my website.

I did consult a botanist about the plant and he identified it as a nightshade by the way it is growing. I then concluded that it could be a belladonna. I am the only one who has tried to identify the plant. The plant is very prominent in the painting but the bird in the background is not. In fact, it can hardly be seen with the naked eye. Also, others have discussed it and it is really difficult to identify just what kind of bird it is.

By the way, I am not a professional art historian. I hold a doctorate in History but left Academe almost 40 years ago. Like yourself, I am an amateur.

Regards,

Frank

H Niyazi said...

Hello Frank. Thank you for your response!

As I mentioned, I think the interpretations can co-exist, because we will likely never have that definitive document.

From an evidential perspective, both readings are not taken from primary documents. The strength of validity to each claim is an highly subjective one.

I definitely never said it was your responsibility to find this document, or give Mr Januszczak(whom I have no connection with other than being an admirer of his work) a free pass on the matter.

The paucity of evidence on a lot of Giorgione's work is quite dismaying. I'm still trying to find out what made the Louvre decide to change the attribution of 'The Pastoral Concert' to Titian!

I understand that when we spend a lot of time working on something, it can make us put emotional stock into that work, and perhaps be dismissive of others.

I myself welcome everyone's work, whether they are passionate amateurs, or trained professionals. As my site title hints at, the journey of sleuthing a mystery is where the fun lies for me!

Going on public record with a reading of famous work, as you and Mr Januszczak have done, is a brave venture, and will invariably attract the attention of a throng of persons - where it can be absolutely guaranteed that not everyone will agree!

I myself enjoyed his theory, because like him, I don't get a religious vibe from the picture. That of course does not mean the Sacred interpetation is not there! This is part of the allure of this work. Giorgione could have made it an overtly religious looking work, but he didn't - 5 centuries later - we are still trying to figure out why.

You really need to see the whole program to fully understand Mr Januszczak's view, and not just the 4 minute clip I have provided. Also, I am sure you are aware that details about Demeter are revealed in more than one text from Antiquity. The Homeric source is the most commonly known, but obviously not the only one.

I also think Mr Januszczak has done a lot of wonderful work to promote the Arts through his films, which is why I thoroughly recommend them. His films provided the inspiration for me to start this blog, so if this is 'waxing effusively' then I am guilty as charged!

I equally acknowledge that others examining the Giorgione image will see something different, and personally enjoy the idea that we can be so passionately discussing Giorgione's work 500 years on - I think he would have loved that his efforts would be such an intellectual puzzle to us :)

Kind Regards

H

M said...

It has been interesting for me to follow this discussion in the comments for this post. It's obvious that multiple interpretations can be made for this painting, and each interpretation can be supported with various evidence. I have heard the Flight of Egypt interpretation from various sources, although I can't assert that I am married to that argument (I actually was inspired to write my own post after reading all of this discussion!).

I think H Niyazi is right: Giorgione would be very pleased to know that his painting has caused so much discussion and debate!

H Niyazi said...

Cheers M!

I loved your post. I only found out about the XR scan recently myself.

Mr Januszczak does not mention it in his program. It definitely would also blow the Iasion reading out of the water had that been the final rendering. But alas, it isn't, and the mystery will linger on!

H

Dr. F said...

M and H,

I read your post M and I discuss the "other woman" in the blog section of my website--http://www.giorgionetempesta.com. Just go to the blog and search for "pentimenti." The x-rays were discussed extensively in the 2004 exhibition catalog, "Giorgione, Myth and Enigma." On my blog I also discussed Holberton's gypsy interpretation. Just search his name. In none of the images he presents are the figures dressed differently. In fact, some of his other gypsies are actually (unbeknownst to him) the Madonna dressed like a gypsy or Zingarella. Check out Correggio's "La Zingarella."

H and M, if you read the first 5 pages of my paper, can you honestly say that "The Encounter with the Robbers" is also the "Discovery of Paeris"? Giorgione's patrons did not want paintings with multiple meanings. It was Giorgione's greatness that he could take a traditional subject and raise it to a new level so that even people not as Catholic as contemporary Venetians could still feel the vibes 500 years later.

The "Pastoral Concert" was discussed extensively in the 2006 exhibition catalog , "Bellini, Giorgione, Titian..." In a 2007 catalog wolfgang Eller gave it to Giorgione.

I'm really enjoying this conversation.

Frank

H Niyazi said...

Hello Frank.

I am glad you are enjoying the discussion, and also happy that this post allowed us to shed further light on your work as well :)

My post mentions other interpretations, but was never setting out to explore them all - that would indeed be an arduous task.

As the standard of proof is limited to a subjective assay, then the descriptions that successfully meld together as many symbols as possible are the ones that become more prominent. From an evidential perspective though, this does not make them any stronger (or weaker) than another interpretation that can convincingly do this. A good illustration is the bird - your reading gives it little importance, whereas it is quite central to the classical one. Why would Giorgione include it if not to allude to meaning, or was it to misdirect? It's hard to say unequivocally!

His Castelfranco Frieze shows us that he was fond of symbols with hidden meaning - much of that Frieze is still a conundrum today, so I think we cannot categorically say Giorgione enjoyed being entirely transparent to us or his patrons!

It is indeed a testimony to Giorgione's greatness that the non-Christian 'vibe' of this work can linger on. I will have to admit that this is what draws me to the painting. I am not a Christian, and hence do not feel any emotional or spiritual connection to the subject matter the sacred readings discuss. This doesn't mean I deny their existence, just that I do not feel it like others might.

If this was a more traditional religious depiction of the topic you ascribe it, I dare say this painting would not have the superstar enigma status it enjoys today.

It must be acknowledged that due to the nature of the presentation, and the poor supportive documentation, that the mystery will always live on. Just like with the Pastoral Concert it seems, where the attribution itself is the mystery.

If Giorgione's patrons in this instance were quite clear on what they wanted and were happy with what they received, it is a great shame there is no conclusive primary documentation about it - be it an order for the painting or a diary entry from the Vendramin. All we know is that Gabriele forbade the work being sold in his will.

Michiel's description is the one that likely cemented the ambiguity of the work throughout the ages.

In the 'Every Painting' episode on the Tempest, Mr Januszczak asked several experts on their take - Salvatore Settis describes how it is argued that Vendramin would have enjoyed discussing individual interpretations of the work as a riddle among guests, but goes on to speculate that that the intended meaning was known to the patron.

Of course, as there is no documentation to support this, it really is Mr Settis own educated feeling that was the case rather than an irrefutable bit of evidence to set our hearts at ease!

Alternately, Giovanna Scire Nepi, director of the Accademia cheekily suggests that she likes Michiel's quaint description. If I were in her position, I would definitely go for that one too as it more of a visual description than an analysis, and adds to the mystery that lures visitors to see it.

She did provide some interesting background I didn't know about, with the description of the young man as a member of the Venetian Hedonistic group known as 'The Stocking Brigade.'

As we all know however, dressing characters (Biblical or Classical) in modern garb was par for the course in Venetian Renaissance Art, so it neither adds nor detracts from the myriad interpretations this painting has accrued.

Until some archivist with a new discovery tells us otherwise, the enigma shall endure, and there will always be something for Art History professionals and amateurs alike to joyfully discuss, as we have been doing here.

Kind Regards
H

Dr. F said...

It will be sad if people cease to admire and love the Tempesta if they find that it has a "sacred" subject. It's still a beautiful work of art with profound meaning. In my website blog I post the reactions of Lord Byron and Marc Helprin to the Tempesta. Both were awestruck even though unaware of the subject.

You admire Raphael and his Madonnas. Why?

About primary sources: Many art historians fail to see that the paintings are the real primary sources. many get so wrapped up in their sources that they fail to look at the painting itself. Regina Stefaniak began her lengthy essay by calling the child a "newborn" while it is actually holding its head up quite nicely.

I am familiar with Settis. His "Giorgione's Tempesta" is probably the best introduction and he came so close when he identified the Woman as Eve. Venetians in the Ren. regarded Mary as the second Eve.

Finally, what about the "Encounter with the Robbers"? What do you think? I'll look up my notes on the bird!

Frank

r

H Niyazi said...

I indeed admire Raphael, but primarily because he was possessive of a precocious talent and applied himself voraciously and passionately to his work. He also seemed genuinely fond of Antiquity, evidenced by his adventures in the Domus Aureus, and depicting himself as Apelles in Causarum Cognitio.

My favourite image of his is actually the tiny painting he did of the Three Graces(Charites), modelled on the Roman statue you can now see in Siena.

His Madonnas are pretty, but I feel no spiritual stirring when I look at them. Margerita Luti herself is more fascinating to me than who she was posing as for Raphael.

As for Settis, what was most memorable about his take was his identification of a serpent to support his 'Eve' reading. This object ended up being an accumulation of dirt that was cleaned off during some conservation work!

Byron is also mentioned in the documentary. He seemed to think the painting was about Giorgione himself, and coveted the woman whom he perceived as Giorgione's wife. Strange fellow!

H

M said...

Thanks for the link, Dr. F. I appreciated reading your take on the "other woman." You argument for the "Encounter with the Robbers" is interesting, but I'm still left with some doubt. I think you're right that Giorgione was "stretching the envelope" in regards to depicting a disheveled Madonna - if she is a Madonna. :) I would be more convinced if I knew of precedents or antecedents for the disheveled (or fully nude) Madonna type. I know you mentioned exposed shoulders and breasts, etc., but I would be more interested in a more unconventional display of skin (as shown by Giorgione in his lost painting and the Tempest). But you have an interesting theory. Your interpretation of the flute is interesting, too.

I don't think that we can ever perfectly understand the mindset of Giorgione or the Renaissance people. It's simply impossible to completely know the cultural mindset and ideology of a people, unless one actually takes part of that culture. As historians, we try to place ourselves within that mindset as much as possible, but we are only working with fragmentary evidence (and we lack the crucial point that we didn't live in Renaissance Italy!). From my 21st century perspective, I think that Giorgione was intentionally enigmatic in his works of art. For example, I wouldn't connect playing the flute with that Juvenal quote - I would expect Joseph to be singing in order for the connection to be clear to a Renaissance viewer. Perhaps a connection would have been clear at that time, but I would need more visual examples (or "fragmentary evidence"- sigh!) to convince me.

It's been fun to follow this chain of comments! Best of luck in your theories, Dr. F. I'll look to your site as a resource for this Rest on the Flight of Egypt theory.

Cheers!

Dr. F said...

Thanks H and M for your comments. I especially agree with M on the need to see these paintings through the eyes of contemporary Venetians.

I'll keep you posted on further developments. For the time being you both might find some of the other blog entries on the site of interest. Try Paris Bordone's Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine, for example.

Frank

Dr. F said...

As promised I did some work on the bird in the tempesta. I believe the source can be found in Psalm 101 (102 in some versions). Here are verses 7 and 8 from the Jerusalem Bible:

I live in the desert like the pelican,
in a ruin like the screech owl,
I stay awake, lamenting
like a lone bird on the roof;

I've just posted a full discussion on my website in the Blog section. http://www.giorgionetempesta.com

Thanks for making me revisit the bird.You never told me what you thought of the "encounter with the Robbers."

frank

H Niyazi said...

Great work Frank! I really like your reading of the bird :)

I also commend that you make your information available online and for free!

Some of our more scholarly friends would save this for a book or academic paper that curious readers, amateur and professional alike would have to pay to access - which is something I am quite against when it comes to sharing knowledge about a field of inquiry that is so speculative(as opposed to the material sciences of course).

Well done!

H

H Niyazi said...

Here's a direct link to Frank's updated blog post - which I also tweeted earlier

http://2.ly/cnz6

The more I read it, the more I like it - the specificity of the quote including the rooftop strikes a chord with me particularly :)

@Frank - just as a heads up - elements of your pages, particularly the image galleries do not display on computers that don't have apple quicktime installed, or within mobile devices running modified browsers. Those viewing from work or educational institutions in particular will be missing out on that content as they are usually blocked out from installing third party applications such as quicktime etc.

H

Dr. F said...

Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad you liked the "bird" identification .. I should have realized that for Giorgione even the most insignificant detail was important.

Thanks for the heads up on the image galleries. I'm not a tech wiz but I will look into it. It's so easy to drag images into the Mac templates that I never gave it a second thought.

By the way I looked into Peter Humfrey's "Painting in Renaissance Venice (1994) and found that he had discussed the Demeter/Iasion theory. Humfrey is a well-known scholar. He cited a 1986 article by Buttner, a German scholar but found the interpretation problematical. Anyway, the theory did not originate with Januszczak.

Frank

H Niyazi said...

Cheers Frank!

Interesting! That's very cheeky of Januszczak to present it as his own. One *must* acknowledge prior research. If Newton can do it when unravelling the Laws of Physics - then Art Historians should be able to as well! This is an interesting consideration when looking at material presented on TV - it does not require a bibliography!

Thank you for your continuing efforts Frank :)

I definitely agree that when it comes to Giorgione, even the smallest detail is important!

In my own personal view, the Psalm reference has made all the difference!

I am going to edit the original post and link to your work directly so readers don't need to wade through these comments to find it!

H

Dr. F said...

Thanks. It is certainly magnanimous to edit your original post. Special thanks also for the links.

Please keep up the good work on your blog.

F

H Niyazi said...

Cheers Frank!

New and relevant research adding to the existing body of knowledge will always override whatever my pet personal theory may have been!

I hope one day a more comprehensive documentary on Giorgione is completed - that covers all aspects of his work. It'd be great to see a Giorgione episode of Private Life of A Masterpiece for example.

H

Dr. F said...

In a post on the blog section of my website today I argue that Giorgione's so-called Three Ages if Man in the Pitti Palace is his depiction of Jesus, Peter, and the young man of great wealth from c. 19 in Matthew's gospel.

What do you think?

Frank

H Niyazi said...

Hi Frank! It's a shame you don't have comments enabled on your blog, as leaving a comment here feels unusual! In any event - I think your reading on Three Ages is also sound. The symbolism is so subtle, yet this seems to be what Giorgione delighted in. I'll very likely see this when I go to Florence in a few weeks time, I'll see if I can spot what is on that paper...if anything!

I must admit, there is a part of me that is dreading you finding a verse in the Bible that unravels the Pastoral Concert. To me, like Edgar Wind , that work is perhaps the strongest link that shows Giorgione's fondness for the writings of Antiquity.

Part of the problem in that work however is the attribution to Giorgione in the first place! A lot of folks, including The Louvre, will always attribute it to Titian, and I don't possess the evidence to disagree with them!

H

Alexandra Korey said...

I think Dr. F's comment sums this up nicely: "You see, it is a fanciful theory just like all the others which attempt to squeeze the pieces of the Tempesta puzzle into a classical framework."

If there's one thing I learned while studying high renaissance iconography, it's that this society delighted in AMBIGUITY. It's a recurring theme in 16th century art theory. The Venetians, in particular, had a range of influences that they liked to incorporate in their work, and this should not and did not involve only classical sources.

So in my dissertation my conclusion for a number of prints of putti and, by extension, many works of the italian renaissance, was that the ambiguity is intentional in order to encourage dinner conversation (see Alberti's Intercenales). That's my story and i'm sticking to it ;-).

H Niyazi said...

I agree Alexandra!

I'm sure I said this above, but we have reports that Vendramin used to delight in having guests and visitor ponder the ambiguity of the painting. Even without something like the Castelfranco frieze, it is increasingly apparent that Giorgione seemed quiet fond of this multi factorial thematic approach.

Good on him I say, it makes looking at his work more fun!

Kind Regards
H

Dr. F said...

Alexandra:

What you say about ambiguity is very interesting. I'd certainly like to know how it applies to depictions of "putti" a subject of which I know very little. Also, can you mention some works of intentional ambiguity?

I don't think that the Tempesta is one. It is true that Renaissance paintings could have many levels of meaning. In the Tempesta, for example, the city in the background could be literally Judea from where the Holy Family has fled. It could also be a metaphor for contemporary Padua which was under seige by the forces of the League of Cambrai. It could also have a moral or allegorical meaning as a place of danger from which the soul has fled.

I'm serious about the putti. Is there any way to read your paper?

H:

Vendramin did have extremely high regard for his collection but I don't believe that he was the original patron of the painting. Tomorrow, I'll put a post on my blog that discusses Vendramin.

Frank

Alexandra Korey said...

Dear Frank
sorry for the delay in my response! I'm honoured that you're interested in my work on putti. Essentially what I found was that they were kind of like blank canvases used to carry meaning through association with other figures or actions. I studied 16th century prints in which putti were the only figures in order to try to get to the bottom of it. I am not sure I actually did ;-).

Here's a link to my dissertation info: http://tinyurl.com/378sfhb
If you have access to dissertation abstracts online you should be able to download the whole thing for free. Not that I would really recommend reading it, as it is awfully dissertationy in that way that grad students have to get out everything they know on one topic.

I have of course a pdf of the dissertation, as well as of an article published about some putti in a print by Nicoletto da Modena; the latter is much more legible I think, but less about ambiguity or multiple meanings than is another chapter on marcantonio raimondi that hasn't yet been published, only given in an oral paper. I can email you some stuff if you write me at info at arttrav dot com.

Best regards
Alexandra

H Niyazi said...

Thanks for that info Alexandra!

I personally love that 'dissertationy style' !!

For those that can't access the google books link above, you can see a (free) 10 page preview of Alexandra's dissertation here

Listing at ProQuest

Kind Regards
H

Anonymous said...

When I look at Giorgione's painting of The Tempest I am reminded of Socrates' explanation that love is the child of Resource (father) and Poverty (mother) -- "povera a nuda, vai Filosophia" (Petrarch). I don't know if this necessarily contradicts a Lucretian explanation, or if anyone else has mentioned it. --E.H.

Anonymous said...

The young soldier could allude to Socrates, about whom Ficino writes, that when he was young and doing his military service, he used to stand amazed and contemplate the sun every morning, and he called the celestial sun the second "son of God", who was a shadow of a greater, or "first son" of God that could be discerned only by the intellect. See Angela Voss, "Marsilio Ficino (Western Esoteric Masters)", pp. 221-22.

I do not know about the thunderstorm and the plants. Maybe need to read more Ficino. --Ellen

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