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Louvre: Giorgione – Pastoral Concert

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Giorgione - Pastoral Concert

Denon wing – 1st floor – Mona Lisa room – Room 6

[Now considered a work from Titian’s youth]

GIORGIO BARBARELLI, better known as Giorgione, marks the transition from the rather dry and naive way of Gothic art to the brilliant blossoming art of Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese. He was born in 1477, the same year as Titian; but while the latter was bearing the scepter of painting for a century, Giorgione died at the age of thirty-three in the fullness of his genius. Giorgione was above all a painter of frescoes. Having come to Venice at a young age, he was employed by the Procurators of the Serenissima and by the wealthy individuals to decorate the official or private palaces of the city. He began by painting the exterior of his own house, which because the time it was built probably contained lead, with fanciful compositions, and soon became a fashion in Venice, so that with Titian he was commissioned to decorate the facade of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, a kind of consular hotel of the German merchants, rebuilt in 1508 on the banks of the Grand Canal. Giorgione demonstrated, in choosing his compositions, the most extraordinary fantasy, all overlaid by a marvelous coloring, whose corrosive action of the lagoon and of the time could not completely suppress the brilliance.

This originality and the splendor of the palette, disciplined by a great deal of science, we find them whole in the paintings of Giorgione and especially in this Pastoral Concert, which is one of the marvels of the Salon Carré. “He was one of the first who demonstrated true independence by daring what had not been done before him; he revealed to Venetian art his true temperament in an amorous form which religious morality had hitherto prevented, but which the unbridled spirit of the Renaissance encouraged. In his works the flesh palpitates, the tasty and firm carnations are modeled in mysterious penumbra, its color is in a hot range extremely harmonious. Nothing better than he gave to painting this richness of tone and solidity of execution, with so much flexibility, humor and life.” (Pierre Gusman.)

With regard to the Pastoral Concert, we can not do better than to quote the beautiful page of criticism dedicated to him by Théophile Gautier:

“In the midst of one of those landscapes of a richness of warm and stifled tone which Titian has remembered more than once, young lords make music: one plays the lute and the other seems to listen. In the foreground, a naked young woman, seen from behind, and seated on a thick turf of golden green, approaches a flute to her lips. To the left is another young woman, who has no other garment but a piece of white drapery slipping from her hip to her thigh, leaning on the edge of a sort of marble trough, to fill a bottle of glass. The two young lords have elegant Venetian costumes in the style of those of Vittore Carpaccio; they do not at all seem to care for the contrast of their rich clothes with the nakedness of their companions. The painter, in this supreme artistic indifference, which thinks only of beauty, has seen in it only a happy opposition of fine stuffs and fine flesh, and indeed there is only that. The torso of the woman leaning over the bowl, the back of the woman playing the flute, are two splendid pieces of painting. Never has a more blond, warmer, mellower coloring, and a richer consistency, opulent feminine forms.

“Giorgione’s Pastoral Concert, this picture without a subject and without an anecdote, may not attract much the crowd, but be sure that all those who seek the secrets of color stop there for a long time, and without pushing the fetishism like Sir David Wilkie with regard to Los Borrachos of Velazquez just studying a square inch only every day, make sketches, studies, complete copies that they keep on the wall of their workshop like the most sure color standard that an artist can consult. It is Giorgione, it may be said, who made the palette of Venice. Titian, Bonifazio, Tintoretto, Paris Bordone, Palma old and young, Paul Veronese, the most illustrious and the least known, have widely used it. We may say, to the glory of Giorgione, that Titian equaled him, but did not surpass him.”

The authentic works of Giorgione are very rare, its frescoes having almost completely disappeared, under the action of time. Many of the paintings attributed to him were recognized as due to Lorenzo Lotto, Palma Vecchio or Sebastiano del Piombo. But in addition to the Louvre’s Pastoral Concert, two masterpieces must be mentioned: The Family of Giorgione at the Giovanelli Palace in Venice and Apollo and Daphne at the Patriarchal Seminary of the same city.

Pastoral Concert was for a long time part of the collections of the Dukes of Mantua, and then purchased by the King of England, Charles I. He then passed into the hands of the rich banker Jabach, a great lover of painting. But Louis XIV, having seen this painting, manifested the desire to possess it, and bought it from the banker. Thus this masterpiece, as well as many others, entered the Louvre national heritage.

Height: 1.10.- Width: 1.38.- Full-length, full-size figures.

Translated By Nicolae Sfetcu from the book “Louvre Museum”, by Armand Dayot

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