THE TEMPEST

 

GIORGIONE DA CASTELFRANCO: abt 1506-1508

The subject of this painting has been often debated. There are many different theories:

1. The first known recorded documentation in 1530 lists it as: The soldier and the Gypsy

2. Possible story from mythology, classical history, religion, or poetry,

3. A landscape painting

4. Intentionally painted without subject to provoke

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1. THE WOMAN

She is looking directly at us, and doesn't seem pleased.
Her pose is unusual. Not a likely breasfeeding position or state of dress. The small tree in front of her barely covers her lower nudity, if at all.

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6. THE MAN

His stockings identify him as a member of Compagnia della Calza. This was a group of young Venetian aristocrats and nobleman in the 15th and 16th centuries who organised theatre and musical entertainment. They wore different patterned/colored stockings on each leg.

X-rays of the painting have revealed that in place of the man, Giorgione originally painted another female nude.

He is looking in the direction of the woman, but not at her.

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2. CARRERA CREST

Four wheels (or a cart), used to be the coat of arms of the Carrara family of Padua

The Carraresi (or da Carrara) were an important family in northern Italy in the 12th to 15th centuries. Under their rule, Padua conquered and controlled much of the Veneto and part of Friuli. However, in 1405 Padua and the da Carrara family were defeated by the Republic of Venice, preventing the creation of a large regional state with Padua as its capital.

The identity of the city in the background is not clear, is it Padua?

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4. BIRD

Is the bird a crane or stork?

A stork: has symbolised fertility and pregnancy since ancient times

A crane: has symbolised humility & vigilance

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3. SYMBOL OF LION OF ST MARK

Another theory for the meaning of this painting comes from the crests of Venice and Padua on the buildings:

Could it be a warning to the rulers of Venice to avoid war? In this theory, the city is in the background is Venice and the threatening storm is the impending conflict with the Pope-led League of Cambrai.

The building with the Carrara family crest is Giorgione's way of saying - if you don't opt for peace Venice will suffer just like the Carrara family suffered in the earlier hostilities with Venice.

What is The War of the League of Cambrai?
Sometimes known as the War of the Holy League, was fought from 1508 to 1516 as part of the Italian Wars of 1494–1559.

Who was in the war?
The main participants of the war who fought the entire time were France, the Papal States, and the Republic of Venice. They were joined at various times by nearly every significant power in Western Europe, including Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, England, the Duchy of Milan, the Republic of Florence, the Duchy of Ferrara, and the Swiss.

What was the war about?
Pope Julius II wanted to curb the powerful Venetian influence in northern Italy. In 1508, he brought together the League of Cambrai—an anti-Venetian alliance consisting of the Papal States,, Louis XII of France, Ferdinand II of Aragon, and Maximilian I, the Holy Roman Emperor. Although the League was initially successful, friction between the Pope and France caused the league to collapse. The Pope and Venice formed an alliance and went on a counter-offensive.

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5. MOOD

The painting seems to evoke 2 different moods. The bottom section, is calm and tranquil, opposed to the top with lightening and dark clouds.

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7. STAFF

Is this a staff identifying the man as a shepard or a spear making him a soldier or walking aid used by a civilian?

From the 14th century the staff is described as part of the arsenal of the medieval fighting man, and its use similar to that of the spear. But a staff was found to be much more socially acceptable than walking around armed. It was also portable and a useful walking aid for travelers.