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, October 14, 2010

Titian: Vendramin Family

Titian's depiction of Gabriele Vendramin and his brother Andrea venerating (along with Andrea's seven children) a relic of the True Cross is as much a primary source for the owner of Giorgione's "Tempesta" as any written document. Scholars are unsure which of the two men is Gabriele but nevertheless, he must have made it clear to Titian that he wanted to be depicted in an attitude of religious devotion.

In 1530 Marcantonio Michiel saw the Tempesta in the “portego” or Salon of Gabriele Vendramin. It is the first historical reference to the painting. In his notes Michiel described the Tempesta in this way.

“ The little landscape on canvas, representing stormy weather and a gipsy woman with a soldier, is by Giorgio di Castelfranco.”

We cannot be certain that Vendramin initially commissioned the painting although a strong case can be made. I believe that it is more likely that he acquired it as he did other works of art by trade or purchase, perhaps after the death of the original owner. (See previous blog entry for "the Discovery of Paris" Sept. 13, 2010.) We do know that he prized his collection highly and insisted that it not be broken up or sold.

However, other than the portraits listed in the inventory below, all of Vendramin's other paintings are of sacred subjects. Right after the “Tempesta” entry, note the description of a version of a Flight into Egypt by Jan Scorel of Holland.

Michiel’s notes were originally discovered in the early 19th century without an indication of the author. That is why the initial publication of the notes attributed them to the “anonimo.” The English translation of 1903 has recently been reissued in paperback. References below are to the page numbers in the paperback.

The Anonimo: Notes on Pictures and Works of Art in Italy Made by an Anonymous Writer in the Sixteenth Century, translated by Paolo Mussi, edited by George C. Williamson, London, 1903.

In the House of Messer Gabrieli Vendramino: 1530.

122. The portrait of the same Messer Gabriel in half length, life size, in oil, on canvas, was painted by Giovannini del Comandador. The gold foliage decoration all around it was executed by the Priest Vido Celere.

123. The little landscape on canvas, representing stormy weather and a gipsy woman with a soldier, is by Giorgio di Castelfranco.

The picture representing Our Lady with St. Joseph in the desert, is by John Scorel of Holland.

The dead Christ in the Sepulchre, with the Angel supporting Him, is by Giorgio di Castelfranco, but was repainted by Titian.

The three small portraits in tempera, one representing Messer Filippo Vendramino in a three-quarter view, and the others two young gentlemen in profile, are by Giovanni Bellini.

The small oil picture on panel representing St. Anthony, with the portrait of Messer Antonio Siciliano in full length, is by…a Flemish master, and it is an excellent work, specially in the painting of the heads.

124. The small oil picture on panel representing Our Lady standing up, crowned, with the Child in her arms, in a Flemish church, is by Roger of Bruges, and is a perfect work.

The portrait of Francesco Zanco Bravo, in chiaroscuro, with black ink, is by Giacometto.

The large book of drawings, executed with a lead pencil on bombasin paper, is the work of Jacopo Bellini….

The two drawings in pen-and-ink, the one on vellum containing the history of Attila, and the other on bombasin paper representing the Nativity, are by Raphael.

Note: Even the abovementioned “history of Attila” deals with St, Peter and St. Paul.


  1. Fascinating! If only we could find a line somewhere... "Lute and flute player, some muses in a pastoral scene, by Giorgio di Castelfranco, repainted by Titian"

    That Titian painting of the Vendramin and the famous Cross within was mentioned in the ZCZ short on the Tempesta. Even though Mr Januszaczak's classical reading may not gel with yours Frank, you should keep an eye out for it, some great info on the historical background.

    Also, do you know if the Vendramin had symbol or attribute to identify them in art? I've seen Andrea's coat of arms, it's merely some colours.


  2. I don't known of any Vendramin symbols but if I recall, Paul Kaplan has a good discussion of Vendramin in an article that appeared in Art History on the Tempesta and the Cambrai war.

    Kaplan, Paul H.D.: “The Storm of War: The Paduan Key to Giorgione’s Tempesta,” Art History, Vol. 9, No. 4, December, 1986.


  3. Cheers for the reference Frank :) That article is a bit difficult to access for us mere mortals!

    For those curious, the Wiki entry on the Vendramin is not too bad at all, and well referenced.

    Vendramin - Wikipedia

    I've been trying to find out what the name means, but accessing the sites that explain Italian names is down :( Still, there are no obvious Vendramino/bird references coming up in my search - that's what I was hoping to see!!

    Kind Regards