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Giorgione's "Tempest," "Studiolo" Culture, and the Renaissance Lucretius Author(s): Stephen J.
Giorgione's "Tempest," "Studiolo" Culture, and the Renaissance Lucretius Author(s): Stephen J.

Giorgione's "Tempest," "Studiolo" Culture, and the Renaissance Lucretius Author(s): Stephen J. Campbell and Giorgione Source: Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 56, No. 2 (Summer, 2003), pp. 299-332 Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Renaissance Society of America

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Giorgione'sTempest, StudioloCultureandthe RenaissanceLucretius*

by STEPHEN J. CAMPBELL

Theinvention ofGiorgione'smuch-interpretedpainting knownas The Tempest can be explained

with reference to theDe rerumnatura of Lucretius.Lucretius provides theessentialconnection betweenthemainelements ofthepainting. a male lwanderer,'a lightning bolt, broken columns, a

naked, nursingfemale, and a landscape rendered according to momentary,fleetingappearances. The invention of the painting also responds tothe way Lucretiuswas readaround1500, tothe specific interests of the poet's Renaissancereadersand imitators,and to formsofse'-cultivation associatedwiththe ownershipofa studiolo.

Veryrightly,therefore, [wrote]Lucretius,when hepraised him whofirst

becausehe thought itwasdiscovered

by

discoveredwisdom,butthis ineptly,

manjustasthoughthatmanwhomhepraisedhadfoundherlyingsomewhere 'legs towardthesource'as thepoetssay.'

- Lactantius

1. A PROBLEM

OF GENRE

uchrecent writingGiorgione'sTempest(Fig 1.) conveys the impression

of

prolific flowof interpretations. Little

from previous commentarieson the

painting, or fromtherichcontextual explorations ofVenetianculturesuch

researchhas ofteninvolved. Many

investigation of the painting's

contemporary circumstances, its curiouslyarchetypal character, havebecome

buried, withheld fromlater

characteristicof

haunted many discussionsofthis

with

gloomy history itself, and discussionsofthe

presentessay, whichaddressesthe

discipline initsmost benighted state.'The

Tempest haveforsome epitomized the

of art

wishing conveys thesenseof

to staunch the

anythinggained

visual

suggestiveinsights,resulting from

sources, its possible

referencesto

investigation by an impulse to closure

ironicsenseof despondency has

iconographical studies.An

metacriticalreflectionson

painting of gathering darkness, together

the interpretativeproject

*1would like to thank jaynie Anderson, Shane Butler,and Ann Kuttnerfortheir invaluable help withthis project.

'Lactantius,3.14,197. Original textin Lactantius,cols. 0386c-0387a: Rectius itaque Lucretius, cum eum laudat, qui sapientiamprimus invenit:sed hoc inepte,quod ab homine inventam putavit. Quasi veroillam alicubi jacentem homo ille, quem laudabat, invenerit, tanquam tibias ad fontem, ut poetae aiunt. All subsequent translationsare mine unless otherwise specified.

'For the Tempest literatureas case

study of art history's unease with its own "harsh

partial, veiled, superseded, and evenincorrectin

hermeneutics"which"setasidewhateveris

favorofthe single answer," see Elkins,227-48.

Renaissance Quarterly 56 (2003):299-332

[ 299 1

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300

RENAISSANCE

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3 0 0 RENAISSANCE Q U A R T E R L Y FIGURE 1. G

FIGURE 1. Giorgione, The Tempest. Venice, Galleria dell'Accademia di Belle Arti. Alinari/Art Resource, New York.

meaning of the painting through a redefinition of its cultural context, inev-

itably adds to an already over-encumbered

bibliography on Giorgione, but it

will also make a case for the merit of several previous interpretations, and for

their value as cultural history. Far from maintaining

ings are "Wrong," it will show that several at least point towards a kind of

common ground, a particular context of reception not unique to Venice in

the 1500s but achieving a particularly developed form there. While the

project of interpretation has been rather narrowly conceived as the solution

of what has been presumed to be a puzzle or enigma, it might be more mean-

ingfully defined as a tracing of a work's embeddedness

and it is finally towards an understanding of the latter that the more useful

that all previous read-

in a cultural milieu,

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GIORGIONE'S

TEMPEST

301

interpretations tend.In thissense, the strongest workon the painting has

align itbothwiththe practices ofart collecting around1500,and

sought to

withVenetian literary culture.3Some have proposed itsclassificationas a

poesia,

cc poetic"effects throughpainterly means.'Less

basis

Poesiais presumed to be a genre in itselfIn this sense, the strongest workon

itbothwiththeratherthanas manifesting

any relationto the genres of literarycomposition, orto

icanceof poetryduring the years of Giorgione'sactivity. 5

Giorgione'spainting willbe identifiedwitha humanist theory and practice ofpoesia around 1500, buta conception whichwouldalso havebeenmean- ingful forthefirstownerofthe picture, theVenetian patrician and collector GabrieleVendramin (1484-1552).

Precisely at thetimewhen Giorgione was painting, two centuriesof debate regarding thestatusofthe poetic artwere culminating in increasingly

elaborate attempts to establishthe morality,civilizing benefit,and claimto truthof poetry, whichcenteredon the reading and imitationofone ofthe mostcontroversialand sensationalofall ancient poetic texts:theDe rerum naturaofLucretius.'The humanist response to Lucretius,the conception of

thefunctionof poetry and thefieldof poeticpractice enabled by theDe

rerumnatura,here provides the principal dimensionforthe

understanding

of Giorgione'spainting. Lucretius, along with Virgil, was by 1500 becoming centralto a humanist concept of readingpoetry as a moralformationofthe

self,centeredon private reflectionand contemplative detachment.In Venice,suchan ethicaland pedagogical notionof reading had emerged as a response to a long-standing disdain for poetry on the part of the city's intelligentsia. One ofthecharacteristic products ofVenetianhumanismin

the painting has sought to align

that is, as a

paintedequivalent fora poem, ora workwhich produces

certain,however, is theexact

according to whichthe Tempest can be designated a "paintedpoem."

thecontested signif-

In what follows,

3For

Giorgione andthecultureof collecting inthecircleofGabrielVendraminandhis

Giorgione and literary culturein

(for example), the essays inLa letteratura,la rappresentazione; also

acquaintances, seeAnderson,127-89; forrecentworkon

VeniceandtheVeneto,see

Rosand,Lettieri,Hochmann,andNova. 'For example, Sheard,and Anderson,44-49. "'Genre"istobeunderstoodherenotinthe highly codifiedsenseinwhichitwas applied

tolateracademic painting, butasa historicaltoolwhichwas employed tocircumscribeareas

of affinity withinandbetweenformsofcultural production. Determinationof genre herewill

nonethelessdraw upon

though thesewere.For genre asa deviceof "retrospective" historicalcriticismsee

Colie.Forthe implications of genre in Lucretius,see Conte,1-34.

Renaissance literarycategories,imprecise,provisional, and disputed

Fowler,and

6Forthecontroversiessee Garin,ed.,1958,

especially 53-71;Trinkaus,555-71; Robey,

7-25;onthestateofthe question around1500in Italy see Prete,11-23andE Gilbert (I am

grateful toUnaRomand'Eliafor referring metothis article).

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302

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the Quattrocento hadbeentheOrationes contrapoetas(1455) ofErmolao BarbarotheElder (I 410-7 1), an unsparing demonstrationofthe mendacity anduselessnessof poetr . TwolearnedVenetian contemporaries ofVendra main,Pietro Quirini(1478-1514) andPaoloGiustiniani (1476-1528), were equallyunsparing intheircensureof profane literatureina pamphlet ad- dressedtoLeoX in 1513. YetGabrieleVendraminmaintainedlinkstoa more positive cultureof readingthrough hisknowncontactswithhumanist

scholarsof

Aquinas, andalso through his ownership ofa camerinoor studiolo,a space wherethe identity of private readerandamateurscholarcoincidedwiththat ofcollector. Reading and collecting couldbothberationalized according to thesamevirtuousend,whichwasthedetachmentofthemindfrom worldly caresand perturbations. A decorated, intimate space calledcamerino,studiolo,orstanzino,andde- votedto reading and collecting, wasa featureof many aristocraticand

princely households by 1500. 10 Giorgione'spainting wasfirstencounteredin

thecamerinodelle antigaglie thelittlechamberof

homeofGabrielVendramin,whoelsewherereferredto"elmiostudioover Chamerin. "11 DoraThorntonandPaulaFindlenhaveboth recently demon-

stratedthe ways inwhichthedomesticstudioloandcamerinoservedas a

spatialexpression ofthenotionofthe private individual. 12

Y7

8

antiquity,through his authorship ofa poem aboutSt.Thomas

9

-

-

antiquities

inthe

Privacy andindi-

'On the generally censoriousorutilitarianattitudesto poetryamong Venetianhumanists

King,

Campbell, 1997,40, and Robey, 20-21.

157-61; seealsoKallendorf, withdiscussionofBarbaroat 126-30.On Barbarosee

see

also

'On theLibellusadLeonemXPontificemMaximumand itsauthorsseeE Gilbert,983-90; onGiustinianiand Quirini seealsoMassa.

9Seethestatement by PaoloManuzio quoted below, andthetext recently cited by Franco

Calcagnini. Giraldi

BaccheiiiinwhichtheFerrareseLelioGiraldiaddresseshis colleague Celio

discussesthe activity of contemplation, andwhetherthiscanbebetterfacilitated byreading

or

nature,butis theresultofviolencedoneto nature."Madnessanderrorcome"froman

exaggeratedpractice of writing and

ofbooks.""letters, they tellus,

doesnot paintingperhaps dothisbetter?Menoflettersthemselves employpainting when they

something which

literarydescription alonecannot adequatelyexpress.They do

because painting and imageryimprint inthemselvesandinotherstheformsof things more

clearly andmore truthfully

quoted

bylooking at pictures; he

provocativelysuggests that"The study oflettersisnotbornfrom

reading, andanexcessive turning overandoverthe pages

express thesensationsand thoughts ofthemind.Yet

help usto

this, by theirownadmission,

adversuslitterasetlitteratos,

haveto speak about something thatis extremely difficulttoremember,or

thanlettersdo." Progymnasma

andtranslatedinBacchelli,333.

loThestandardaccountis by Liebenwein;seealsoThornton. 11 Fordocumentationonthe public careerand collectingactivity ofGabrielVendramin, seeBattilottiandFranco,64-68.On Vendramin'scollectionseealsoRav.

12 Thornton,1-7;127;Findlen,293-346.

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GIORGIONE'S

TEMPEST

303

viduality were privileges thatcamewiththe ownership and

householdand especially, as we might surmiseinVendramin'scase,with membership inanelite political class.Yet beginning withthearistocraticstu-

dioliofthefifteenth century, thissame

cultivatedselfhad been produced and put on display foran audience

through theaccumulationof finementoftheirowner,and

themeswherethe normallyprivate andinterior experience of

given a

structedandrevealed through themutebut

painting and sculpture,defining theowner's "personalspace" eveninhisor herabsence:Vendramintook pains toensurethatthe precious collection containedwithinand beyond his study wouldremainintactathisdeath.The wallsandshelvesofthe study, inotherwords, projected a versionofthein- teriorlifeofitschief occupant, albeita versionsometimes produced in

collaborationwith literaryspecialists andinthe language of poetic invention.

leadership ofa

wasalsothesitewherethe

space

preciousobjectsadvertising thetasteandre- throughpainting on mythological or poetic

reading was

visible, intersubjective, andsocialform.13The selfcouldbe con-

richlyequivocallanguage of

The assimilationof

collecting to reading andtovirtuous scholarly lei-

opposition toa long-standing humanist

things.'4 Humanists occasionally de-

onewell-knowninstance,PaoloManuzio

surewas frequently articulatedin

polemicagainst the vanity and superficiality of anyprofession ofvirtueor

distinction through the ownership of

plored the turning ofbooksinto luxury commodities through theirlavish

ornamentation,andthe general conversionof

tocraticformsof

(1512-74)

Loredan,thatLoredan'scollectionsof antiquities were"notmaterial

goods

scholarlydiscipline intoaris-

display." In

foundhimself having to insist, in a letterof 1552 toAndrea

a gem whichone may obtainata price" but"virtuousriches"

yourvery noble thoughts,

speciallynoteworthy thatManuzio proclaims the

surpass eventhe reading of

meansof knowing the past:"lookingintently atsuchob-

which"willbearwitnessto your fine mind,andto

infuturecenturies."16Itis

possession and contemplation of antiquities to

ancientauthorsasa

jects, one gathers inthemindasmuch knowledge ina short span ofhoursas

13 As argued in Campbell, 2000. 14 For the tensionin eliteconsumercultureoccasioned byanxiety about materialism,

see Syson and Thornton, especially 23-36.

1 5See the discussion of Angelo Decembrio in Campbell, 1997, 22-23, and in

Thornton, I 0 1.

16 Manuzio, 72r-v: Questi non sono beni materiali,checon semplice faticasi acquistino;

non e gemma, che per pezzo si ottenga:queste sono ricchezze virtuose,che a gl'idioti non

toccano, ma solamentecol giudicio, con l'ingegno, con infinitascienza in molto

tempo si raccolgono.Queste del bello animo

di

spatio

vostro, de'vostrinobilissimi pensieri a'futuri

secolichiaratestimonianzadaranno.See discussionofthis passage in Thornton, 1 13-14, and

in Schmitter,23-24.

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304

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onedoesafter years of readingLivy and Polybius, andalltheancienthisto- rians puttogether."

Placed amongst hisfamouscollectionofancient fragments, Vendramin's

paintingbyGiorgione wouldhave spoken tohimandtohisvisitorsofhis own relationship tohiscollection.Asweshallsee,itwasan image ofthat very

principlethrough whichattheendofhislifehewould justify hisinvestment

in

of paintings and antiquities "mostofallbecause they have brought a little

peace and quiet to

haveenduredin

vain,asitturned out) thathiscollectionbeheldintactfortheedificationof

future"homenistudiosidevirt"U." 18 The pleasure afforded by such things was

notto be

beneficialideaof

whodevotedmuchofhislifeto

patricians who sought toassociatehimself,as patron andcollector, withthe

contemporary Venetianworldofclassical scholarship and

counting BernardoBembo (1433-1519) among his

younger ErmolaoBarbaro (1453/54-92) among hisrelatives.19In thesame testament,after exhorting his nephews tomaintainthe study ofnaval strategy

and navigation, heinsistedthat they "notabandonthe study ofletters."In 1540thearchitectandtheoristSebastianoSerlio (1475-1554) remarkedthat Vendramin,"a mostsevere castigator of things licentious," wasoneofthe

menofhis

Vitruvius.20 Among other paintingsbyGiorgione, Vendraminowneda work

knownas

foundaffirmationofhisown morallyrigorous outlookintheethicaland

pedagogicallegacy oftheancient philosophers.

17

collecting. Inhiswillof 1548, he justified the preservation ofhiscollection

my soul during the many laborsofmindand body thatI

conducting the family business";he

expressed the hope(in

seenas base, acquisitivepleasure, but according to a morally-

pleasure. Vendramin, a memberofa

distinguishedfamily

public and family business,wasoneofseveral

antiquarianism,

acquaintances andthe

age most equipped to appreciate thearchitectural principles of

TheEducation ofMarcusAurelius,againsuggesting thatVendramin

Tempest is

21

not simply a passiveproduct ofthiselitecultureof

The

collecting, but,likethecollector'scamerino,itisitselfan

cultural identity foritsowner, an expression invisualand tangible formofthe

active producer of

"Manuzio, 72r: le quai cose con attento pensieroparticolarmenteriguardando, tante bellenotiziein poche horeneliamente raccolsi, che ne Livio, ne Polibio,ne tuttole historie

insieme havevano altrettanto in molti anni potuto insegnarmi. See discussion by

Schmitter,23.

"Translation fromChambers and Pullan, eds., 429. Original textin Battilottiand

Franco,67.

'90n Vendramin'sintellectualmilieu,see Ibid. and Settis,142-59.

20 Serlio,1540, 1.3.155, quoted inBattilottiand Franco, 66. In the previousyear Gabriel, with Jacopo Sansovino, had evaluatedthe paintings foran altar designedby Serlioin the

along

churchoftheMadonna della Gallierain Bologna. See Anderson,164, with bibliography.

21 On this painting seeAnderson,298, and Lucco, 11-29.

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GIORGIONE'S

TEMPEST

305

valuesof reading,collecting, and contemplation. Butbeforewecanestablish

therelationofthe

to suchconcerns, we mustfirstaddressthe

traditionof Giorgione'spainting, andthe problems raised by

image

interpretative

theearliestreferencesto the

MarcantonioMichiel,whomade highly selectivenotesonillustrious private

collectionsofhistime,referredin 1530 to "El

cingana etsoldato" (the little landscape oncanvaswiththe

tempesta, cunla

storm,withthe gypsy and soldier). A 1569

Vendramin'scollectionismore cursory anddiffersinseveral particulars: "una

cingana, un pastor inun paeseto conun ponte" (a

landscape witha bridge)."Clearly the rendering of landscape waswhatwas important totheseearlierviewers,andtheir descriptions ofthe figures as soldier, gypsy, and shepherdsuggests that they sawtheseas"attributes"ofthe

landscape.

image.

The gentleman and connoisseur

paesetto in telacun

la

description inan inventory of

gypsy, a shepherd ina little

The

Tempest,probablypainted not long before Giorgione's deathin

151 0, isindeed unprecedented inItalianartinits rendering ofthenatural

worldinaninstantaneousmomentof shiftingappearances,manifesting what

onewriterhascalleda

pursue thesameeffectsis Lorenzo

new "phenomenologicalresponse tothe problem of

which

"

time.

Lotto's

significantlyemploys theelementsof atmospheric, cloud-laden landscape in

theserviceof

persuading itsmodern interpreters on

deciphered, andon theotherthatitisa

landscape, with figures, foritsownsake:a manwitha

shirtwithornatehoseand

inthedirectionofa nearly-naked womanseatedatthefurther edge ofa

orstreamwhichdividesthe foreground. Thewomannursesa child,andlooks

not towardstheman,but in thedirectionofthebeholder.Such an

acknowledgmentplaces theviewerat the apex

fictionaldistancefromthemaleand

separated fromthem by

same body ofwaterisolatesthetwomain figures fromeachother.Behindthe man, a pair ofbrokencolumns appears,along witha portion ofwallwith marblerevetment.Inthe background isa fortified city, itswallsilluminated

The onlycomparable workto

portrait-cover in

the

Washington National Gallery,

allegory.'Giorgione'spicture hasbeen

equally effectivein

allegory tobe

onehandthatitisan

strikingly modern rendering ofa

staff,dressedinawhite

darkeninglandscape tolook

ofa

pool

triangle, at an equal

are

notionally

breeches, pauses ina

female figures. We

thewaterintheimmediate foreground,just asthis

"The referencesin Michiel's Notizia dopere di disegno and the 1569 Vendramin inventory arebothcitedin Settis,55-56. The majority ofarthistorianshaveconsideredsuch

referencestobe farfrom adequate as an accountofthe picture'ssubject orofthesocial identity ofthemale and female figure; Holberton,1991 and 1995, argues otherwise.

21 P. Brown,227.

24 As noted by B. L. Brownin a commenton the reception ofGerman landscape modes in earlyCinquecento Venice, in RenaissanceVeniceand the North,338.

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306

RENAISSANCE

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by the meteorological eventwhichhas given the painting itsname - a flash

of

lightningsignalling theonsetofa tempest.

Whilesome interpreters havefocusedontheencounterofthetwomain

figures to identify a biblicalorclassical subject(Adam and Eve,Marsand

Venus,Danae), othershavescrutinizedthe picture fora hiddenorhermetic

significance.2' Fortheselatter readings the painting isseento depict thefour

the pool, themoistearth,thedense, churning

clouds,the lightning bolt), ortoillustratea philosophicaladage (Harmonia

elements (designatedby

estdiscordia concors), or

26

again to alludeto astrological and alchemical

ofthe optical effectsof

knowledge. For others, the philosophical dimension incorporates therealm

ofartistic concerns; Giorgione's artisassociatedwitha "scientific" mentality,

the investigation

particular weatherconditions.2' More recently, certain marginal and

indistinctdetailsareseentoconnectthe imagery withthe predicament of Venice during thewarsof1508-10.Butthishistorical readinginevitably

resorts again toa principle of allegory: the tempest itselfbecomesa

forthe"stormofwar"and forthe fortuna ofVenice.Stillothershave

attempted to coordinatethe

and unprecedentedrepresentation

metaphor

politicalreading, which requires a certain

21

exegeticalingenuity,

with astrological andhermetic interpretation.

Such

readings do suLyLyest ways inwhicha Cinquecento observer may

highly-chargedsequence of probably familiar

a wandererwhose proper domainis the city, a female

havemadesenseofsucha

poetic topoi:

characterizedas a motherand closely associatedwitha "Wild" landscape in

whichthefourelementsareindeed presentedthrough a spectaculardynamic

interplay. Ithas recently beennoted, forinstance, thatthemotifofwanderer

inconfrontationwitha maternalfemaleoccursintwotextswhich epitomize themost experimental tendenciesin contemporary vernacularliterature:the prose-romance knownasthe HypnerotomachiaPoliphili,publishedby Aldus

25 AdamandEveisthe subject identified by Settis; Jupiter andDanae by Parronchi, inLa Nazione, 14 September 1976(cited inSettis,68) whilethe subject ofMarsandVenuswas revivedwitha hermeticcastinCioci.Fora recent astrologicalreading seeCarroll.

seeTschmelitsch,1966, and1975,

240-65.Foran

Sheard.

inventiverecent reprisal ofthe philosophicaladage on discordiaconcors,see

26

For interpretations

intermsofnatural philosophy,

21

28

Sheard,154-57.

SeeHoward, and Kaplan. Forthe astrological reformulationofthis position seeCarroll.

Fora criticismofthe position which accepts Michiel'sidentificationofthemale figure as a

soldier,seeHale,416:"Whoever compiled the inventory ofGabrieleVendramin's'Camerino

delle antigaglie' in 1569 describedthe

convincingly, asa shepherd

associations,ofa soldieraremistaken."

young manmore understandably, ifstillnot

explanations thatturnonthe figure, orthemoralor allegorical

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GIORGIONE'S

TEMPEST

307

in 1499

prose and verse which appeared in Naples in 1504, but which was widely read

throughout Ital Y.30 We are confronted by poetic signs and motifs which call

for interpretation; but such interpretation can proceed in any number of ways (like any of those just described) unless we can determine what poetic

kindwe are dealing with here, a framing principle of poetic genre which could set reasonable limits to interpretation.

of a

work in

(Fig. 2)

29

,

as well as

Jacopo

Sannazaro'

s

Arcadia,

a

pastoral

The

Tempest has sometimes

been classed as a poesia,

on the basis

passage in a 1548 treatise on painting by Paolo Pino which called for painters

to observe a kind of metonymic brevity and improvisatory technique

analogous

Pino also characterized painting as poetry in terms which would have been

quite acceptable to Leon Battista Alberti, or Mantegna, or Raphael, or to a tradition of artists and writers who understood the analogy of painting and

poetry according to a principle of invention deriving from ancient rhetoric:

"la pittura "e propriapoesia, cio'e invenzione."32 However, those who identify

Giorgione's painting with his poesia have often asserted the self-sufficiency of

to a rather narrow sense of

lyric. 33 A related claim is that the

Tempestparticipates in - even inaugurates - a kind of pure genre painting,

and that it could be classed with a series of depictions of family-like groups in landscapes from around 1510-15, such as the Landscape with Halbardier, Woman and Two Children from the Palma Vecchio circle (Fig. 3) and the

Nursing Mother with Halbardier in a Landscape attributed to Titian (Fig. 4).

However, while these other Venetian works correspond in some formal

respects to Giorgione's picture, there is no consequent basis for the assertion

Tempest manifests a

that they reproduce its subject and its meaning.

poetic invention grounded in the vernacular

his imagery, as if it were poetic only according

to the poets "in their comedies

and other compositions."31 yet

The

singularity, even a deep strangeness, which cannot be explained away or reduced to generic terms.

"On therelationto the Hypnerotomachia., see most recently Anderson,165-72.

"Most suggestive hereare Lettieri, and Emison,64-76.

"See theobservations by Anderson,44-49. 32 Pino, I1 5, makesclearthatwhenhe departs fromAlbertiitis on technicaland noton

conceptualgrounds: "E perch6 la pittura e propriapoesia., cio

quello che non "e, per"O utilsarebbeosservarealcuniordinieletti dagli

i quale nellelorocomedieet altre composizioni vi introduconola brevit"a."

the

painting sharesaffinitieswith narrative, allegory and genre, it belongs insteadtoa newand less

not any

specificpiece, but in general." The accountin Sheardofthe Tempesta as apoesia.,"frugal in

presentation,profligate in meaning,"

painting'sautonomy and

capacity fornon-

exceptional; while arguing forthe

formalizedkind of pictorialmusing, closerthan anything to low-stylepoetry -

invenzione, la qual fa apparere

altri poeti che scrivono,

"although

33 See C. Gilbert,212-13, Wittkower, Hope. Emison, 66, writesthat

is in thissense

independence from"external texts," sheconcedesa

literaland allusive meaning whichtheseothercommentatorswould disallow.

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308 RENAISSANCE QUARTERLY M XX vv . . 777 VO FIGURE Manutius, 1499, 8r. The
308
RENAISSANCE
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M
XX
vv
.
.
777
VO
FIGURE
Manutius,
1499,
8r. The
part IZ
University.

2. From Francesco Colonna, Hvpnerotomachia Poliphili. Venice, Aldus

George Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins

Formalresemblancealone is an unreliablebasison whichto determine

significance;conversely, thedifferencesbetweenthe

most closely

Tempest and theworksit

resemblesare more telling. 34 For instance,as John Hale has

3'Thecentral problem intheaccountof Settis,85,

whoderiveshis understanding ofthe

workas AdamandEveon thebasisofa generic resemblancetoa reliefofthis subject in

Bergamo.

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GIORGIONE'S

TEMPEST

309

GIORGIONE'S TEMPEST 309 F I G U R E 3 . F o l l o

FIGURE 3. Follower of Palma Vecchio, Landscape withHalbardier, Woman and Two

Children. Philadelphia Museum of Art, purchased with the W P. Wilstach Fund.

pointed out, the inclusion in these other images of a figure with the clearly

designated attributes of a soldier is a fair indication that the male figure in

Giorgione's picture is not a soldier.35 Nor is there any probability that he is a

shepherd; the figure resembles a patrician youth of Giorgione's own time, and we might surmise that costume here serves primarily to mark him as a city-

dweller who has now wandered away from the city.31 )X%ile the Cambridge

and Philadelphia paintings appear to configure the man, woman, and child

as a family group, this is, however, no necessary basis for seeing the Tempest

as representation of a family. While the confrontation of a young clothed male and a female in a "state of nature" might indeed imply a recent or

imminent sexual interaction, at the same time the figures appear not only

spatially but psychologically isolated; aware of each other.

it is by no means apparent that they are

"Hale, 518. 36 On the costume, identifiedas that of a member of a compagnia della calza, see Anderson,165-68. On thecostumeofthe compagnie see Venturi1908a, especially 208-13.

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310

RENAISSANCE

QUARTERLY

3 1 0 RENAISSANCE Q U A R T E R L Y FIGURE4. A t

FIGURE4. Attributedto Titian, An Idyll: A Motherand a Halbardierin a Wooded Landscape.Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University ArtMuseums.

Given thatboth sixteenth-century referencesare inaccuratein their characterizationofthemale figure, we might wonderwhatto makeoftheir conception ofthewomanas a cingana, or gypsy. Whilethemanis inscribed

witha social identity(albeit an ambiguous

in termsof social category or literary

genre, and perhaps thisis thereason why shewas assigned the identity ofa

nomad, onewhodwells everywhere andnowhere, neither properly ofthe city

norofthe country. Her depiction witha

woman seems strangely"placeless"

one) through his costume, the

nursing child clearlydistinguishes

herfrom images of the femalenude in "Arcadian" landscapes, whichare largely characterizedin termsof theirerotic appeal; at thesame time, her

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GIORGIONE'S

TEMPEST

311

placidnudity inthefaceofa

therelation recentlyproposed tothe contemporary social reality of gypsies,

camp-followers, and "primitives"(a point discussed below).37 While

gathering storm might makeuswonderabout

Giorgione may indeed have drawn upon Netherlandish or German landscapeprints as modelswhichwouldhavebeenfamiliartohis spectators, he may havedone so precisely becausehe wantedhis spectators to noticea

crucial difference in his invention, the specificity ofthe Tempest'spictorial

syntax. Michiel may

the popularity ofthis genre, whichsometimesshows"outsiders"orbohemian figures, buthe clearly underlinedthe unique elementwhichis notfoundin

any

imitations:thestormitself. 31

havebeenled to hisown

description ofthe paintingby

of the closest

pictorial analogues forthe Tempest, or found in its

2. "THE LAW AND AsPECT OF THE SKY"

The great classicallocusforthediscussionofstormsand lightning is theDe

rerumnaturaof Lucretius, wherestormsare presented almost defiantly as natural phenomena, devoidof portent or supernaturalsignificance. As a poet of naturewho attacked superstition, Lucretiuswas at precisely thistime becomingimportant in a definitionofthefunctionandvocationofthe poet

inwhich Virgil remainedthecentral figure, and itis through the "Virgilian" understanding of poetry thatLucretiuswould havebecome knownto his

reading

northItalianaudience.As Craig Kallendorfhas recently shown, the

of Virgil inmoraland therapeutic termswas especiallyprevalent inVenicein thelatefifteenthand early sixteenthcenturies.3' The marginal annotationsof

Venetianreadersstudied by Kallendorfall correspond withan

of Virgil, and ofhis place inthemoral organization of private life, whichhad beencharacteristicofmerchant-writersandhumanistsinFlorence during the

previouscentury: "endeavorto studyVirgil, Boethius, Seneca or other

understanding

"Fromwhatcanbeunderstoodabout "gypsyiconography' inthesixteenth century, it