Giorgione’s Tempesta (c.1506-8)

Giorgione's Tempesta is considered one of the most important paintings in the history of art but, given the strangeness of the scene, has been subject to numerous interpretations over the years. Until recently all of them treated the figures as though they were on the same level of reality.

In Rudolf Schier's recently published interpretation (2008) the man at left is a poet imagining his creation on the other side of the stream which is a vision of Virgil's Eclogues.1 Thus, though he does not go this far and is unaware of the paradigm proposed here, the scene might well be read as an internal view of the poet/painter's  mind with the stroke of lightning in the distance as an active or divine thought. Just the recognition that the figural groups in a pastoral painting of this period are not on the same level of reality is a major advance for conventional perception.

Captions for image(s) above:

Giorgione's Tempesta (c.1506-8) Oil on canvas. Accademia, Venice.

Click image to enlarge.


1. Rudolf Schier, “Giorgione’s Tempesta: a Virgilian pastoral”, Renaissance Studies 22, Sept. 2008, pp. 476-506

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