My website, MyGiorgione, now includes my interpretations of Giorgione's "Tempest" as "The Rest on the Flight into Egypt"; his "Three Ages of Man" as "The Encounter of Jesus with the Rich Young Man"; Titian's, "Sacred and Profane Love" as "The Conversion of Mary Magdalen"; and Titian's "Pastoral Concert" as his "Homage to Giorgione".

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Renaissance Art Mysteries: Mary and Judith

In my last post I listed my four major interpretive discoveries concerning some of the most famous and mysterious works of the Venetian Renaissance. Although I believe that the name of Giorgione’s “Tempest” should never be changed, it does depict “The Rest on the Flight into Egypt”. Also, his “Three Ages of Man” in the Pitti Palace represents the “Encounter of Jesus with the Rich Young Man”. Titian’s “Sacred and Profane Love” should now be seen as “The Conversion of Mary Magdalen”, and his “Pastoral Concert” could best be understood as Titian’s “Homage to the Deceased Giorgione” utilizing the biblical story of David and Jonathan.

My work on these interpretations has led to a number of other significant discoveries concerning heretofore mysterious or mis-understood paintings. In this post I will list two that have already been discussed on this blog as well as on my site, MyGiorgione.

The first is a painting that is usually called “The Discovery of Paris.” In 1525 Marcantonio Michiel saw this painting in the home of Taddeo Contarini and described it as follows.
The picture on canvas, representing the birth of Paris, in a landscape, with two shepherds standing, was painted by Giorgio di Castelfranco, and is one of his early works. [104]
The editor of Michiel’s notes pointed out that only a fragment of this early Giorgione painting survives but that there does exist a seventeenth century copy by David Teniers. The editor referred to a description in an old manuscript  catalogue.
 A landscape on canvas, in oil, where there are on the one side two shepherds standing; on the ground a child in swaddling-clothes, and on the other side, a half nude woman and an old man, seated, with a flute.
This early Giorgione is a very important painting since Michiel’s description has been almost universally accepted and some eminent scholars have even based elaborate interpretations of the "Tempest" on Giorgione’s apparent awareness and fondness for the legend of Paris. However, Michiel guessed wrong and I believe that Giorgione has actually represented “The Encounter with Robbers on the Fight into Egypt”, a popular apocryphal legend.

In my interpretation the painting takes on new importance since it reinforces my interpretation of the Woman in the “Tempest.” In this painting Giorgione has dared to depict a Madonna with bare leg in danger of sexual assault. A full discussion of this lost Giorgione can be found in my “Tempest” paper or on its own at MyGiorgione.

There is no disagreement about the subject of Giorgione’s “Judith” that now hangs in the Hermitage. The mystery of that painting revolves around the bare leg of the Jewish heroine. Its prominence is striking and to some shocking. No good explanation has so far been offered. However, I believe that I have found the reason for the bare leg in the Book of Judith itself. Just as in “The Encounter with the Robbers” Giorgione uses a bare leg to indicate a woman in danger of sexual assault. In each case they are spared by their trust in God. The essay with biblical text can also be found at MyGiorgione.


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