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".

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Royal Academy Exhibition: In the Age of Giorgione

The Royal Academy of Arts exhibition, "In the Age of Giorgione" opened on March 12 to mixed reviews. Searching on line I found one reviewer who claimed that rather than restoring Giorgione's reputation, the exhibition showed his inferiority to the more famous Titian. It's hard to understand how such a judgment could be made given the fact that masterpieces like the Accademia's Tempest, the Kunsthistorisches Museum's Three Philosophers, and the Dresden Sleeping Venus are not included in the exhibition.

Giorgione: The Tempest

Giorgione: Three Philosophers

Giorgione: Sleeping Venus

However, a reviewer at The Guardian praised Giorgione and the exhibition but regarded the painter as a sex-addict whose work is riddled with eroticism.

Nothing pleased this artist like escaping the noisy city and wandering the countryside, lute in hand, a woman on his arm. And what he really loved was to get the woman to strip off in some tranquil glade. Giorgione revolutionized the female nude. Before him, Renaissance artists were quite decorous in approaching the goddess Venus. Giorgione made nudity carnal, hedonist. He was quickly imitated by other Venetian artists, including his younger friend Titian, who followed him out into the meadows with wine, music, and courtesans.
Titian: Pastoral Concert or Homage to Giorgione

I think this is balderdash and just reflects the reviewers own desires. Despite the Pastoral Concert pictured above, there is absolutely no evidence that Giorgione or Titian liked to wander about in the countryside with wine, music, and courtesans. Moreover, I fail to see anything erotic in any one of the paintings attributed to Giorgione. Is there eroticism in the nursing mother in the Tempest?

I am not alone in this opinion. Famed art historian Kenneth Clark claimed that Giorgione invented "the classic Venetian nude," but he did not see eroticism in Giorgione's work. Instead he found in the Sleeping Venus,  “an appetite for physical beauty more eager and more delicate than had been bestowed on any artist since fourth-century Greece.”

Here is a link to one of the earliest and most popular posts on Giorgione et al... that discusses the Sleeping Venus and Clarks opinion more fully.


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