The painting was long considered as the product of Giorgione's studio. More recently it has been suggested that it is an imitation of Giorgione made in about 1540.*
In his 2009 monumental study of Giorgione, Enrico Maria dal Pozzolo claimed that the painting might be the earliest Giorgione still extant.
This bizarre painting on a medium-sized panel (59x 48 cm), now at the National Gallery in London, might be the first of Zorzi’s works to have been handed down to us. The use of the conditional concerns every single aspect of it—the attribution, the date, the subject—because it is a work unlike any other from that time, and so disconcerting…**
But the main figure is none other than Saturn, the god who devoured his own children, was castrated and denounced by Zeus, represented here in decline and exile in a hortus conclusus inside which human beings and animals live together in peace, all within the bounds of a “virtuous “laurel shrub….**In 2007 Wolfgang Eller declined to attribute the painting to Giorgione, although he did admit that Giorgione might have done the landscape. His opinion was based on stylistic grounds.
The pictorial arrangement is too unbalanced with inharmonious progressions....Moreover, the painterly style of the animals is too stiff and of mostly average quality. In spite of some very delicately painted details, the painting is also rather average in the painterly execution of the figures. The light effects are very good even if the shadows do not have Giorgione’s organic structure. The interpretation of the landscape is very Tuscan, which also explains the earlier attribution to Raphael. Giorgione’s participation in the landscape in the upper part of the painting is not impossible but very difficult to prove. An attribution to Domenico Campagnola would suggest itself, and Carpaccio and Catena are possible closer authors.***
In 1999 Teriseo Pignatti and Filippo Pedrocco gave the painting to Giorgione also on stylistic grounds.
The common tendency is to re-evaluate the geometrically balanced composition, the superb rendering of light, and the truly high level of the handling of the paint, all of which seem to presage Giorgione’s early mature work...#They also called the painting mysterious and mentioned the many attempts at interpretation but without coming to any conclusion.
Although I believe the painting to be by Giorgione, I have neither the skill nor the tools to enter the attribution debate. However, I do believe that this painting is a version of the "Man of Sorrows" so popular in Venice at the time. I have discussed this on an earlier post dated June 25, 2011. ###
|William Dyce: Man of Sorrows|
* National Gallery Website.
#Pignatti, Teriseo and Pedrocco, Filippo: Giorgione, NY, 1999. Catalog entry #5.