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".

Monday, October 21, 2013

Renaissance Art Mysteries: Giorgione, "Saturn Exiled" or "Man of Sorrows"


Renaissance Art Mysteries: Giorgione “Saturn Exiled” or “Man of Sorrows”.
In my past few posts I have listed eleven paintings including some of the most famous, beautiful, and mysterious of the Venetian Renaissance. For some I have been able to completely re-interpret these paintings that have mystified scholars for years. For others, I have been able to point out details that have either been mis-interpreted or overlooked. Here is another that brings the total to twelve.***



In his 2009 Giorgione catalog Enrico Maria dal Pozzolo believed that a mysterious painting in London’s National Gallery might be the earliest surviving work by Giorgione. The painting features a forlorn looking man sitting on a kind of throne off to the right. Three young men are around the throne and one seems to be making an offering. To the left a leopard and a peacock are prominent. Pozzolo noted difficulties of attribution, and also mentioned that scholars have not been able to agree on a subject. Some think the Man is David or Solomon, while others suggest Jason, Zeus or an unknown poet. Pozzolo accepted none of these and offered his own new interpretation.  He called it “Saturn Exiled” and argued that the painting represented the defeated Saturn after he had been castrated and exiled by Zeus. Pozzolo admitted that such a subject was unusual.

I have interpreted this painting as a version of the “Man of Sorrows” one of the most popular and ubiquitous subjects of the era. See my June 25, 2011 post on this site.

In the last few years I have sent my interpretations of Giorgione’s “Tempest” and Titian’s “Sacred and Profane Love” to most of the leading scholars in the field but with little response, and even less feedback and comment. I have also sent them to academic journals but with no success. So, I turned to the Web. I created a website and then this blog to publish my ideas and to hopefully reach an audience of interested people.

Publishing on the web does have some negative aspects. I thought that blogging would stimulate discussion and scholarly give and take but it doesn’t seem to work that way. Some scholars even refuse to read anything on the web. Also, although archived, old posts seem to go into a black hole. Finally, I have found that even students who have asked for the papers or for other assistance rarely respond or even show gratitude. Do they take Incivility 101?

But the positives certainly outweigh the negatives. Blogging stimulates thought and regular writing improves skills especially when you know others might read. Working on a paper or essay is like a prospector in a gold mine. He concentrates on the most promising vein but leaves behind many veins for later exploration. My major discoveries have uncovered a number of lesser ones that could not be published anywhere else.

Working in the “sacred subject” vein has proven to be very productive. Just imagine what scholars with much more training, resources and expertise than I possess could achieve if they would work the same vein instead of merely giving into the temptation to call everything they cannot understand "allegory", "poesia", or "capriccio".

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***Edit. Please note the baldachino above the man in the painting. It looks somewhat like an ornate lampshade. (click on the image to enlarge) David Orme, a friend from England and a lover of Venice, recently told me that he had seen similar ones in still existing statuary. Here is an image supplied by his friend, Albert Hickson.


It is a statue of the Madonna and Child on the Rio Ognisanti near San Trovaso. Many thanks, David and Albert.


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