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Pratiques du hasard

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Jonathan Pollock

Annexes

The Aristotelic phantasmata & the simulacra theory of Lucretius in a painting attributed to Giorgione, Titian & Sebastiano del Piombo

Alessandro Rossi

Texte intégral

[Triple portrait]. Attribution incertaine: Giorgione (1477-1510), Sebastiano del Piombo (1485-1547), Titien (1489-1576). Detroit, the Detroit Institute of Arts

  • 1 Oil on canvas, 84 x 69 cm.
  • 2 W. R. Valentiner, A combined work by Titian, Giorgione and Sebastiano del Piombo, in “Bulletin of (...)
  • 3 F. J. Mather, An Enigmatic Venetian Picture in Detroit, in “The Art Bulletin”, September 1926, vol (...)
  • 4 Sebastiano del Piombo 1485 + 1547, exhibition catalogue, Rome, Palazzo Venezia, 8 February – 18 Ma (...)
  • 5 Document downloaded from the official website of the Detroit Institute of Arts on 21 November 2010 (...)

1The various attributions that have accompanied the painting being discussed here1, and the many titles given to it during its history confirm its problematic nature, in terms both of paternity and iconography. Confining ourselves to the painting’s more recent art-historical fortune, which reflects the querelle relating to it inaugurated by Valentiner2 and Mather3 in 1926, it is worth recalling the inclusion of this painting in the exhibitions in Rome and Berlin dedicated to Sebastiano del Piombo in 2008, in which it was called “Triple Portrait” and attributed to a collaboration between the three most important painters of the Venetian Cinquecento: Giorgione, Titian and Sebastiano Luciani4. In 2011 the Detroit Institute of Arts, owner of the painting, included it in an exhibition called: Fakes, Forgeries and Mysteries. Here the painting was given the title “The Appeal” and described as follows: About 1500s-1600s or later, oil on canvas. Possible attribution to Giorgione (Italian, 1471-1510), Titian (Italian, 1485-1576), Sebastiano del Piombo (Italian, 1485-1547), or unknown artist, Italian (?), about 1600 or later5.

  • 6 E. M. Dal Pozzolo, Giorgione, Milan 2009, p. 362.
  • 7 On this painter see: B. W. Meijer, Niccolò Frangipane, in “Saggi e memorie di Storia dell’arte”, V (...)

2The latest monograph on Giorgione, written by Enrico Maria Dal Pozzolo6, inserts the Detroit painting as the possible culminating point in the career of Niccolò Frangipane, average painter active in the second half of the sixteenth century7. Dal Pozzolo gives the painting the vague title “Three Figures” without showing any interest in the meaning of the work. The uncertainty about attribution and meaning that continues to shroud this work involves both risks and advantages for anyone wishing to analyze this enigma. By concentrating here only on the iconographic aspect, it is clear that, since we have no historical documentation about the painting (other than the painting itself), the risk of its trivialization, or its over-interpretation, is high. At the same time this uncertainty, which has involved generations of scholars, offers the advantage of making the painting in question difficult for art historians to use as a mere example to consolidate an already well entrenched art-historical view and, as such, unchallengeable in any debate.

Method

3My contribution will start from just here. I will try to understand what aspects of the painting have unsettled and continue to unsettle some of the scholars who have expressed a negative judgment about it, interpreting it essentially as a sixteenth-century pastiche, as the divertissement of an artist skilful enough to have been inspired by the style of Giorgione, Titian and Sebastiano del Piombo. Understanding these aspects, considered disquieting, helps to insert the problems they pose in a wider debate in which the traditional perceptive approaches and the traditional interpretational tools with which to define them are inappropriate and therefore to be abandoned.

  • 8 Sebastiano del Piombo 1485 + 1547, exhibition catalogue, cit.
  • 9 A. Bredius, F. Schmidt-Dagener, Die Grossherzogliche Gemäldegalerie im Augusteum zu Oldenburg, Old (...)
  • 10 P. Schubring, A surmise concerning the subject of the Venetian Figure Painting in the Detroit Muse (...)
  • 11 W. Suida, Giorgione in American Museums, in “The Art Quarterly”, XIX, 1956, p. 151.
  • 12 E. Guidoni, Giorgione. Opere e significati, Rome 1999, pp. 303-304.
  • 13 P. Holberton, Giorgione’s sfumato, in Giorgione Entmythisiert, edited by S. Ferino-Pagden, Turnhou (...)

4I will list briefly the previous interpretations already considered incorrect or insufficient, also in the more recent literature8. Among those who have accepted the authenticity of the work, some scholars have offered an allegorical interpretation of the three figures by basing themselves mainly on the monogram on the man’s hat: “CHA”. Bredius and Schimdt-Dagener recognized the three figures as Hercules (Ηρακλής) between vice (κακία) and virtue (αρετή)9; Schubring, as Jason between Creusa and Medea10; Suida, as the personifications of Charitas, Humanitas, and Amor; and Pier Maria Bardi, as those of Amor, Concordia, and Honor11. Enrico Guidoni, interpreting the painting as an allegory of Cignae Amor et Honestas, recognized Giorgione in the term Cignae, Titian in Amor and Sebastiano del Piombo in Honestas12, while Holberton recognized the man at the centre as a pilgrim13.

  • 14 Mather, cit.
  • 15 Sebastiano del Piombo 1485 + 1547, exhibition catalogue, cit.
  • 16 W. L. Eller, Giorgione Catalogue raisonné. Mystery unveiled, Petersberg 2007, p. 197.
  • 17 E. M. Dal Pozzolo, Colori d’amore. Parole, gesti e carezze nella pittura veneziana del Cinquecento(...)

5Among the sceptics of the painting, from Mather14 to Lucco (whose position is ambiguous)15, from Eller16 to Dal Pozzolo17, the aspect that has most drawn their attention is the composition itself of the three figures. It is essentially perceived as a meaningless juxtaposition of a man and two women, whose gestures and whose gaze are quite uncoordinated.

Objective

  • 18 On this theory see: G. Careri, Gestes d’amour et de guerre, Paris 2005. Text consulted in the Ital (...)

6My interpretation is aimed at refuting this perception. I see in the composition a carefully studied and subtle inter-relation of the three figures, which derive their main characteristics from a conscious re-elaboration, by painters, but especially by patrons, of philosophical and literary sources of Antiquity and of the Renaissance. The painting, I am convinced, is neither the visual elaboration of a single text, nor a mere derivation from it. It is, on the contrary, an image whose relative independence from textual sources permits it a real dialogue with them18. At the same time it is wholly immersed in a cultural and intellectual climate accustomed to “thinking allegorically”, as testified by so much of the art of Venice in the sixteenth century.

Semiotic analysis

7So, before passing to the sources, and then to a more properly iconological study, we need to observe the painting’s composition with close attention. We need to recognize that the overlapping of the three figures, with the man in the shadow in the background and the two women facing each other before him, is a significant factor in itself. The staging of the visual space in which the three figures are placed avails itself of this perspective device (the superimposition of three figures in depth) for purposes that differ from those usual in narrative painting. The painting, that is, is formulated, in composition, as if it articulated a message interlacing “different levels of reality” within the same space. And precisely the overlapping of the three figures, their gaze and the one gesture of the hand by which they are connoted, are the means by which this message is expressed. So we are faced here with a painting whose semiotic interpretation leads us to conclude that it cannot easily be placed in one of the pictorial genres already consolidated in art history.

  • 19 J. Anderson, The giorgionesque portrait: from likeness to allegory, in Giorgione, proceedings of t (...)
  • 20 S. Settis, Esercizi di stile: una Vecchia e un Bambino, in Giorgione Entmythisiert, cit., p. 51.

8The already blurred distinction sometimes drawn between genre scene, group portrait, realistic or ideal portrait, symbolic or allegorical portrait, or portrait of panegyric type “in the guise of” hero or heroine, male or female saint, seems in this painting to be re-absorbed and transcended in a synthesis in which the aim of portraiture, assuming it exists, is subordinated to a meaning that transcends it. For what seems to be of importance in this work is not whether the figures can be recognized or not, as personages with distinctive physiognomies, namely precise historical individuals, but the symbolic character that they confer on the painting and that is constituted and amplified by the correlation of their poses, gaze and gestures. The figures are immersed in an atmosphere whose dark ground becomes the place of revelation, the locus where the image is created and transmitted. A symbolic character of this kind has been identified as one of the innovations of Giorgione. For, according to Janyie Anderson, Giorgione was the painter who first marked the transition from the portrait of “resemblance” (or “compliment”) to that underlaid by an undeniable allegorical representation19. Salvatore Settis too, has considered as a crucial component of Giorgione’s style “the violation of the frontiers and ‘norms of genre’, the mixture between different genres such as portrait and allegory, or portrait and devotional painting”20. It is enough to think of Giorgione’s Laura in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna and La Vecchia (the Old Woman or Allegory of Time) in the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice.

  • 21 On the concept of «truth» in the iconological method see: P. Bourdieu, Postface à Architecture got (...)

9If we assume that our painting is one of those that “violate the frontiers between the genres”, we would then have to try to understand how it does so, in order to grasp its meaning. We need to begin from an intuition whose truth21 will be verified later in this paper through a correlation between the visual and textual data belonging to the same cultural milieu in which the painting in question can be presumed to have been conceived (the area between Padua and Venice in the early sixteenth century). The intuition, in short, is that the painting might be the representation of the vision of one of the figures within the painting itself, and that what is portrayed is not only the person who has the vision (the man at the centre) and the content of his vision (the woman in black), but also the intermediary through whom this vision is made possible (the woman in white). These are the elements on which our iconological analysis will be founded.

  • 22 S. J. Campbell, Giorgione’s “Tempest”, “Studiolo” Culture, and the Renaissance Lucretius, in “Rena (...)
  • 23 C. Falciani, La Tempesta di Giorgione e un poemetto encomiastico dedicato ai Vendramin, in “Studio (...)

10It may be useful, at this point, to recall that two interpretations of Giorgione’s Tempest are based on an intuition similar to ours. Both the interpretation of Stephen Campbell22 and that proposed by Carlo Falciani23 are fundamentally based on the intuition that the male figure is observing the semi-naked woman holding a baby child to her breast as a figure removed from the historical context to which he himself belongs. Both scholars recognize her as belonging to another “level of reality”. This female figure is thus intuited as being perceived by the youth as a “vision” of a different dimension (whether symbolic or of memory). According to Campbell, who bases his interpretation on Lucretius’ De rerum natura, the woman is the object of contemplation by a young and modern Epicurean philosopher who recognizes in her the incarnation of Mother Nature. Falciani, on the other hand, presumes that the literary source of the painting is the encomiastic little poem dedicated to the Podestà and Captain of Treviso, Ludovico Vendramin, the De laudibus clarissime familie Vendramine (1482): in his view, the youth is Sylvius (posthumous son of Aeneas) and the female figure is his mother Sylvia, when she gave birth to him at the edge of a wood.

11Apart from the various interpretations, what interests us here is that the painting has been recognized by these scholars as the representation of a “vision” in which both the perceiver and the perceived, the visionary and the vision, are inserted in the same spatial context. Now, to distinguish in our painting between the person who sees (who has the vision), the person seen (who is the vision), and the person who intermediates between them, we need carefully to observe the three figures in our painting one by one.

  • 24 On the “impersonal” value of the figure in profile placed opposite the frontal figure see: M. Scha (...)

12It immediately becomes clear that two of the three figures wear dark clothes of a similar kind which denotes them as belonging to the same historical, social and geo-cultural context. The third figure, by contrast, wears a transparent white dress. Its voluminous puffed sleeve assumes great importance within the composition; it distinguishes her from the other two and dominates almost a quarter of the whole pictorial surface. This feature, which characterizes the woman in white from the other two figures, leads us to infer that she denotes an ethereal, transcendent, metaphysical and imaginary figure, a figure different from the other two because belonging to another “plane of reality”, in the same way in which in Giorgione’s Tempest a contrast is drawn between the naked woman and the man perfectly dressed in the fashion of his time. As for the other female figure in the painting, the woman dressed in black, her peculiar characteristics are her pose in profile24, her fixed and yet absent gaze, and the accentuated pallor of her skin. All these characteristics may assimilate her to the image of a dead person.

13The man in the shadow in the background with his head bent to one side seems to assume the gloomy, concentrated and contemplative attitude typical of the melancholic, whose peculiar characteristic is the powerful and uncontrollable proclivity to imagination. This kind of melancholic mood can also be felt in Giorgione’s well known “Ludovisi” Double Portrait (Rome, Palazzo Venezia).

  • 25 H. Economopoulos, Considerazioni sui ruoli dimenticati: gli “Amanti” di Paris Bordon e la figura d (...)

14At this point, it seems possible to think of the meaning of this composition as the representation of the memory (by the man) of a person dear to him but no longer within his reach, because she has died or is otherwise unreachable (woman in black), through the touch of her image by the personification of an abstract entity such as memory or desire (woman in white). So the painting would, on this reading, come into the category, not yet well codified by art history, definable as “secular vision”: secular because the object of the vision is not a deity or saint, but the lost loved one. That the woman in black may be recognized as the woman loved by the man at the centre of the composition is revealed by a detail of her dress. She is wearing a particular kind of jewel-belt called paternostro. An accessory with a strong symbolic value, it represents the “chain that fetters” the woman to the man in an unbreakable conjugal union; but it can also be understood as a “love tie”, “a magic bewitching object by which the woman was able to enchain gods and men to her own desire”25. The paternostro can be noted in other two paintings of the period: the Portrait of a Woman Holding a Portrait of a Man by Bernardino Licinio (Milan, Castello Sforzesco) and The Lovers by Paris Bordon (Milan, Pinacoteca di Brera).

  • 26 The paintings of Titian in question include the following: Venus with Organ Player and Little Dog (...)
  • 27 On this painting see J. Fletcher, Donor portraits in Venetian and Veneto Altarpieces during the Re (...)
  • 28 On this painting see at least: F. Cortesi Bosco, La lettura religiosa devozionale e l’iconologia d (...)
  • 29 On this painting see further: S. Facchinetti, Moroni in visione, in Giovan Battista Moroni. Lo sgu (...)
  • 30 Lorenzo Lotto. Il genio inquieto del Rinascimento, exhibition catalogue, Bergamo, Accademia Carrar (...)

15Among these “secular visions” can be placed, in our view, the whole series of “Musician with Woman” painted by Titian between about 1548 and 1560 in which the musician is visualizing the beauty of music through the harmonious figures of Venus26. Of the painted representations of visions with a religious theme in which the person himself who is having the vision is represented beside it without any evident distinction between the two planes, various examples can be found in Venetian and Veneto-Lombard painting of the sixteenth century, ranging from Titian (Baptism of Christ with Giovanni Ram-Rome, Pinacoteca Capitolina)27, Lorenzo Lotto (Christ Taking Leave of his Mother with Elisabetta Rota - Berlin, Gemäldegalerie)28, Giovan Battista Moroni (Baptism of Christ with a Patron-private collection, and Last Supper with a Patron-Romano di Lombardia, church of Santa Maria Assunta e S. Giacomo Maggiore)29. As for the portrayal of the dead alongside the living, we can find some examples in the same geo-cultural area in the sixteenth century. The most significant is Lorenzo Lotto’s Portrait of a Man and his Wife (St. Petersburg, Hermitage)30.

Philosophical and literary sources

  • 31 On this question see: R. Klein, La forme et l’intelligible, Paris 1970; G. Agamben, Stanze. La par (...)

16As can be noted from the examples cited, the peculiarity of our painting is the third figure in a transparent white dress. It is she who with a touch of her hand “unites” the mind of the man with the image of the dead or otherwise inaccessible lady. So it seems the Detroit painting represents the person who receives the image, the image itself, and the means linking them. What is represented is a gnoseological device, a mechanism, which, in our view, has its main source in the doctrine of phantasmata expounded by Aristotle in the De Anima. But this source, in the way it relates to lost, and hence inaccessible love, is contaminated with the poetic of the Stil Novo. Right from the start, in fact, as here I can do no more than mention, phantasmata and “love at a distance” were inextricably interwoven: in fact the phantasma had become in the mind the obsessive image of the loved one, which is the cause of an incurable melancholy in the lover31.

  • 32 Aristotle, De anima (On the soul), tr. by H. Lawson-Tancred, Harmondworth 1986.
  • 33 Cf. Giacomo da Lentini’s canzone Madonna, dir vo voglio and the canzonetta Meravigliosa-mente in b (...)
  • 34 Andreas Capellanus, On Love, ed. and tr. by P. G. Walsh, London, 1982, book I, chapter 1.1.
  • 35 Cf. G. Agamben, cit., p. 30. For an analysis of the role of the phantasmata and the correlation be (...)

17According to Aristotle (De anima, 431a, 431b, 432a)32, who refers to the medical theories of the sixth century, the mind can know and understand the sensible data transmitted by the organs of sense exclusively through the mediation of phantasy or imagination, which converts the material data of the senses into phantasmata (immaterial data). Phantasmata are, thus, the passage from the corporeal received by the senses to the incorporeal recognized and re-elaborated by the mind. The complex and uninterrupted discussion that took place between the twelfth and the fourteenth centuries on the theme of pneumatic knowledge linked to phantasmata did not lead to any firm and lasting results, not least because a largely indefinable character was recognized in phantasmata due to their – perhaps excessively – equivocal coincidence between corporeal and incorporeal. But it is just on this ambiguity that all the theories that supported the love for the image played: the theories that the troubadours and stil novo poets adopted to sing their fin’amor33. The first systematic theorization of this new conception of love linked to phantasmata was that of Andreas Cappellanus who around 1185 in his De Amore defined love as the immoderata cogitatio of a phantasma in the mind34. This idea was to be resumed and developed by many other philosophers in the Middle Ages, including Albertus Magnus and Ramon Llull, all unanimous in recognizing a close correlation between phantasmatic practice of the imagination, erotic process and melancholic syndrome35.

  • 36 M. Ficino, Commentary on Plato’sSymposyium on Love”, tr. by S. Jayne, Dallas 1985.

18The theme was later resumed in the early Renaissance, among others by Marsilio Ficino (De Amore)36 who combined in a more systematic way the Aristotelian doctrine of phantasmata with that of amorous sentiment. Thanks to the love poets of the thirteenth and the fourteenth century, this sentiment had already been classified as a disease, as a degeneration of the relation between mind and its phantasies. The monopoly of a particular phantasy (in this case the image of the loved one deeply lodged in the imagination of the lover) over all the other images received by the mind in fact risks degenerating into a mental illness, and being transformed into a real pathology.

19Between the end of the Quattrocento until at least the first half of the Seicento it was in fact medical treatises in particular that speculated on the relation between melancholy, the imagination and phantasmata, and that conferred scientific legitimacy on this consolidated and very ancient theory. It is no accident that the best examples of these medical-philosophical speculations can especially be found at Padua University, a stronghold of Aristotelian thought. Girolamo Mercuriale, master of the Paduan school, defined melancholy as a corruption of the imagination: “vitio corruptae imaginationis”, or “immaginationem depravatam” which may cause hallucinations. He also called melancholics libidinous because of their phantasies (Sunt libidinosi… propter varia et diversa phantasmata). Another Paduan physician Girolamo Capivacca linked the disease of melancholy with pernicious phantasies (Causa immediata affectiones tenebricosa est phantasma tenebricosum; quod ad differentiam probi phantasmates, male afficit cerebrum). Ercole Sassonia, Professor of the University of Padua, also linked the disease to the suffering of love, identifying a category of melancholics “with altered cogitation and afflicted with sadness as a consequence of amorous disillusions”.

  • 37 Lucretius’s De rerum natura was discovered in 1417 and printed for the first time 1473 in Brescia, (...)
  • 38 On Ercole Sassonia’s De Melancholia and the pathology of love melancholy in the sixteenth century (...)

20The dangers for physical and mental health induced by amorous passion fuelled by images are warned of in another text, rediscovered in Italy between the late Quattrocento and early Cinquecento, the De rerum natura of Titus Lucretius Caro37. In his treatise De Melancholia Sassonia did not hesitate to recommend as a therapy for “those who become melancholic on account of love” the counsel of Lucretius: “Et fugitare decet simulacra et pabult amoris / Abstinere sibi, atque alio convertere mentem” (“You need to flee from these simulacra - namely phantasies -, cast out / whatever feeds your love, and turn your mind elsewhere”)38. The concept of the simulacrum expounded by Lucretius coincides, at least in its cognitive function, with that of the Aristotelian phantasmata. What are, after all, the Lucretian simulacra other than atoms that are detached from the known object to strike the senses of the conscious subject, forming images that in turn may arouse desire in the person who sees them, and unleash a dangerous amorous passion? If for Aristotle nothing is knowable without phantasmata, so for Lucretius nothing is perceptible, and hence knowable, without simulacra. For both, therefore, the image that these phantasmata and simulacra create, and indeed are, is inevitably linked to the cognitive faculty and to desire and, especially in Lucretius, also to an erotic and amorous passion that is presented as something fearful, as something to be avoided at all costs.

21So, let us observe anew the three figures in our painting and try to interpret the relation linking them by combining the theory of phantasmata, that of simulacra and that of the poetics of “love at a distance” in all its many variants, both medieval and Renaissance. Here, I would like to concentrate this analysis on four aspects that particularly characterize the composition of our painting: first, the transparency of the dress of the woman in white; second, the “mirror image” between the two women; third, the one gesture present in the scene, namely the hand stretched out by the woman in white to touch the bosom of the woman in black; and, fourth, the dark pensive expression of the man with the inclined head in the shadowy background.

  • 39 Averroös, Commentarium Magnum in Aristotelis De anima, edited by F. S. Crawford, Cambridge (Mass.) (...)
  • 40 Albertus Magnus, De intellectu et Intelligibili, in Opera Omnia, edited by A. Borgnet and E. Borgn (...)
  • 41 For a critical reading of the texts of Averroös and Albertus Magnus see: E. Coccia, La trasparenza (...)

22It is interesting to note that the concept of transparency, whose representation in the sleeve of the figure in white, as already pointed out, is not at all a secondary aspect of the painting’s composition, is recurred to in the Commentarium Magnum in Aristotelis De anima by the twelfth-century Islamic philosopher Averroös, linking it to the concept of vision39. The medieval commentator on Aristotle in fact considers transparency in vision, as a third element, a diaphanous medium that makes the vision itself possible. The fact that this medium here assumes the aspect of a woman may also find an explanation in the texts we have taken into consideration: Albertus Magnus, for example, in his De intellectu et intelligibili, in perfect synergy with the concepts of Aristotle, considers the diaphanous medium as a “place which has the same nature as what is in it; indeed it acquires its own figure from what is in it and expounds what it contains40. According to this interpretation, it is thus apparent how the image of the loved woman already transpires in the diaphanous dressed figure41.

  • 42 Ciavolella, cit.
  • 43 P. Bembo, Gli Asolani, in Prose e rime, edited by C. Dionisotti, Turin 1971, p. 464.

23The poetics of the stil novo and later of Pietro Bembo also shared this interplay of reflections and transparences at the linguistic and conceptual level. The images, for example, that Petrarch often associates with Laura (in the poems he wrote during her life and after her death) are often conformed to the name itself of Laura in the verbal puns: Laura, lauro, aura42. The loved woman is the image of the phantasy the poetic ego obsessively develops and transforms into poetry. The only words pronounceable by Petrarch are of Laura, for Laura and on Laura. The coincidence, on the other hand, that we find in Pietro Bembo’s Gli Asolani (first draft: 1497-1502) between Love and Desire, which are one and the same (“quel medesimo e l’uno e l’altro”)43, underlines how much the medium that unites the lover and loved one assumes the aspect of the lovers themselves: as if to say that the substance of desire is transparent: one sees it by observing the love that subsists between lovers. So, interpreting our painting in this sense, we can understand that the man who remembers or desires the woman he has loved and lost, can only do so through the power of memory, nostalgia or desire. Memory is the medium that, by the power of touch, makes the loved one instantly assume the semblance of the woman he loved and conform to the image of the object he yearns to possess.

24The character of medium this figure assumes also finds its rationale in the Lucretian theory of the simulacrum: the woman in white, in her airy and transparent dress, could in fact both personify and absolve the role of air within the composition. The air is the real laboratory for forming, the means for creating, and at the same time the medium for transmitting images. The air creates the aggregation of atoms and transforms them into simulacra. It is also the means that transmits them from the objects from which they are emanated to the subject by which they are perceived.

  • 44 It is interesting to note that touch is considered the sense par excellence that is linked to eros(...)
  • 45 Lucretius himself speaks of the simulacra of the dead: De rerum natura IV, 35 (“simulacraque luce (...)

25Even the position of the two facing women can also be read in terms of the Lucretian philosophy. It immediately evokes a kind of mirror image: the one figure whose reflection is found in the other. It has been interpreted according to the Aristotelian concept of the diaphanous medium and according to the poetic principle of the stil novo of conformity between desire itself and its object. Lucretius offers a valid support for such an interpretation. The follower of Epicurus insists on the rapidity with which the atoms that create the simulacra move and associates this rapidity of movement with the instantaneity of reflection. He presents the example of a reflecting surface that is placed on the earth and that immediately reflects the starry sky. With this same instantaneous rapidity, says the Epicurean, the atoms reach the organs of sense. In this way, whoever perceives the simulacrum instantaneously perceives the object too, the person (even the dead person), from whom it has been emanated and is made conscious of it. These mirror images introduce the point of intersection of the cognitive theories of phantasmata, simulacra and the pictorial image on which our attention has been focused. According to Lucretius, the simulacra, by virtue of their thinness, traverse the organs of sense and directly strike the animus generating the thought by physical contact. Touch therefore creates an immediate consciousness, establishing continuity between sensation and thought. This contact, really tactile, between two thin materials cannot but remind us of the reflections on touch expounded by Aristotle in De anima in relation to imaginative knowledge which is defined as movement resulting from the sensation in act, such as a touch44. At this point, it is interesting to note that, according to Lucretius, if the anima is disseminated throughout the body, the animus, with which the air-borne simulacra come into contact, resides in the breast. Returning to our painting and the relation between the two women, and trying to interpret them in the spirit of Lucretius, we would thus have the simulacrum (woman in black), the air that transmits the atoms (woman in white) and the touch by which the latter enters into direct contact with the breast, namely the animus, of the deceased or absent person45. It is this touch, therefore, that, in the Lucretian sense, permits the air instantaneously to assume the semblance of a woman, creating in turn the superimposition between feeling and cognition in the mind of the melancholic-imaginative man. The “tactile” conception of perception is already present in Leucippus and Epicurus. Seeing-touching-knowing takes place through vision-contact with the eidola, which are the indispensable media of knowledge first, and then of desire, causing the “vision” in the perceiving subject. This does not take place directly in the eye but in the area between the object and the eye. As if to say that an air compounded of atoms is interposed between the subject who perceives and the absent object perceived: an air that instantaneously assumes the form of this object, enabling the subject to see the absent object as if he could touch it, precisely because the atoms of the air and the sensory organs are materials and hence can really be touched.

  • 46 Diogenes Laertius (Lives of the Philosophers): The Letter of Epicurus to Herodotus, Book 10, secti (...)
  • 47 Cf. J. Grabski, “Mundus Amoris – Amor Mundus”. L’allegoria dell’amore di Tiziano nel Museo del Lou (...)
  • 48 Cf. S. Bertelli, Il re, la Vergine, la sposa. Eros, maternità e potere nella cultura figurativa eu (...)

26Epicurus himself, in his Letter to Herodotus, insists on the indispensable value of the medium, of the third person, the intermediary, who is placed as a link sine qua non between subject and object and its being inevitably connoted as image. Epicurus writes: “Also, one must admit that something passes from external objects into us in order to produce in us sight and the knowledge of forms; for it is difficult to conceive that external objects can affect us through the medium of the air which is between us and them, or by means of rays, whatever emissions proceed from us to them, so as to give us an impression of their form and color. This phenomenon, on the contrary, is perfectly explained, if we admit that certain images of the same color, of the same shape, and of a proportionate magnitude pass from these objects to us, and so arrive at being seen and comprehended. These images are animated by an exceeding rapidity [and thus are able to] produce in us one single perception which preserves always the same relation to the object”46. Once again the “single perception” cited by Epicurus is the same as that connoted by the two female figures in our painting, who appear distinct but at the same time united by their posing in front of each other like the reflection in a mirror and physically in contact through the touch on the breast, whose value and significance cannot be gratuitous or casual, as indeed are none of the gestures made by allegories or figures portrayed in the Renaissance. We may think for example of the so-called “gesture of possession” made by the man in armor in Titian’s so-called Conjugal Allegory (Paris, Musée du Louvre)47 and the many portraits of Venetian women showing the hand with the index and middle fingers separated to form the initial letter of the word “Venus”48 as for example Flora by Titian (Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi), Portait of a Woman (Dorotea) by Sebastiano del Piombo (Berlin, Gemäldegalerie), Flora by Palma il Vecchio (London, National Gallery) or Violante attributed to Giovanni Cariani or Palma il Vecchio (Budapest, Szépmüvészeti Mùzeum).

  • 49 Lucretius, De rerum natura IV, 1093-1096: “Ex hominis vero facie pulchroque colore nil datur in co (...)
  • 50 The “Ludovisi” Double Portrait should perhaps be interpreted in this sense. A comparison with a pa (...)

27Lucretius, having established the theory of simulacra, poses the problem of how to understand the relation between thought and desire. He wishes to understand, that is, whether thought is generated by the casual collision of atoms or whether it is possible instead to induce a collision between them according to a person’s own volition, in other words, whether it is possible in some way to think of what one desires: whether simulacra are answerable to our wish, to our desire (IV, 777-782). The answer he reaches is no: we cannot wish the images we desire. At the same time, however, Lucretius does not exclude the power of thought; he attributes to it the capacity to concentrate from time to time on some simulacra, without being subject to the mere caprice of the clinamen. It is after this reflection on thought-desire-will that we come to the turning point, which we could call melancholic, in Lucretius’thought. For the power that Lucretius confers on thought, in this sea of absolute causality of atomic collisions of which the world consists, is the being able to deceive oneself. Thought is, according to Lucretius, so potent as to enable man to deceive himself (IV, 802-817). And it is at this point that the man in the shadows, the man with the somber face, in the painting in Detroit, comes into play. Before him is projected, as it were, the representation of a knowledge based (according to the theory of simulacra) on images brought and taken away by the wind49. Nothing but this melancholic consciousness is left to this man. But, in Lucretius’view, even these images without substance are to be fled from if they refer to the loved one. The Epicurean in fact warns of the dangers of such images because “when the object of love is absent the images of it nonetheless remain” and these are harmful for the physical and mental health of the person who encourages them. Epicurus explicitly speaks of “those infected by the disease of love”, which comprise, as we know, certain types of melancholic persons50.

Patronage

28Some brief remarks should also be devoted to patronage and hence the possible function of the painting being considered here.

  • 51 A. Ballarin, Giorgione e la Compagnia degli Amici: Il “Doppio ritratto” Ludovisi, in Storia dell’A (...)
  • 52 Ibid., p. 497.

29To be able to support the iconological interpretation proposed above, we would have to presuppose a type of patron who had a pronounced vocation for humanistic studies and a courtly view of love; who lived between Padua and Venice in the early sixteenth century; and who had contacts with painters there in that period. This type of patron can be historically verified. Alessandro Ballarin thus recognizes as possible patrons of the socalled “LudovisiDouble Portrait (Rome, Palazzo Venezia) and of the Warrior with Equerry (Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi) attributed to Giorgione, the members of a circle of friends, the so-called “Compagnia degli Amici”: intellectuals who conceived a model of society in which women and love would play a leading role, and which was inspired, not by the political and mercantile model of the Venetian Republic, but by a courtly model in which the opportunity to cultivate the chivalric values and the stil novo ideals of solidarity and friendship would be fulfilled51. Ballarin maintains that the Compagnia had borrowed from the young Bembo of the first draft of Gli Asolani (1497-1502) a form of Neo-Platonism combined with Petrarchism that inevitably placed the emphasis on love, inserting the Platonic-Ficinian eros in a more properly courtly world in such a way as to be understood, on the philosophical and even more so on the poetical level, as a love with an ever closer affinity with that of the medieval stilnovisti52.

  • 53 Ibid., p. 530.

30It should also be recalled that the University of Padua, just during this period, was the stronghold of Aristotelian studies and that the climate that reigned among intellectuals at the time was strongly impregnated with the thought of Aristotle and his medieval commentators. Indeed, Pietro Bembo, member of the “Compagnia degli Amici” and unchallenged cultural mediator between poetry, philosophy and art, was presented with Alexander Aphrodisiensis’Latin version of Aristotle’s De anima by Francesco Donato in October 1495. We also know that another member of the Compagnia, Vincenzo Quirini, was not only familiar with the De Anima but had closely studied it for academic purposes, as demonstrated by the Academicorum propositiones of the Conclusiones to his doctorate at the University of Padua, published and discussed in the spring of 150253.

  • 54 D. Battilotti, Taddeo Contarini, in I tempi di Giorgione (1490-1510), edited by R. Maschio, Tivoli (...)
  • 55 On Quirini and Giustiniani, Campbell writes as follows: “Among the humanistic pursuits Quirini lef (...)
  • 56 On Navagero and his knowledge of Lucretius see: M. Paladini, Suggestioni Lucreziane ne L’Amor Sacr (...)

31As regards the knowledge and reception of Lucretius and his philosophic poem in the Veneto in the early Cinquecento, as already recalled by Campbell, the cultivated patron Taddeo Contarini (1466-1540)54 or the humanists Pietro Quirini (1478-1514) and Paolo Giustiniani (1476-1528), who gravitated around Gabriele Vendramin, one of the most important of Giorgione’s patrons, could have devised the iconography of the painting in Detroit, in the way we have understood it, in much the same way in which they could have conceived the meaning that Campbell attributed to the Tempest55. Also Titian’s and Bembo’s friend Andrea Navagero (1483-1529) would perfectly fit the role of patron of the painting now in Detroit. In fact he was pupil of Pietro Pomponazzi, who was the most important scholar of Aristotelian thought at Padua University; he also edited the Aldine version of De rerum natura (1515)56.

  • 57 E. H. Gombrich, Art and Illusion. A study in the Psychology of pictorial Representation, London 19 (...)
  • 58 C. Ginzburg, Da Warburg a Gombrich, in Miti emblemi spie. Morfologia e storia, Turin 1986, p. 78.
  • 59 H. Belting, Giovanni Bellini. Pietà. Ikone und Bilderzählung in der venezianischen Malerei, Münche (...)

32The patrons of our painting, in the ways we have interpreted it, must therefore have been very similar in culture and sensibility to, if not actually the same as, those conjectured by Ballarin or Campbell. One could say in this case with the words of Ernst Gombrich, that the artist created for himself his élite and the élite its artist57. This concept of reciprocity is also restated by Carlo Ginzburg in a reflection on the relation between artist and public58. For both scholars it is normal for the artist, conscious of his expressive means, to eliminate any excessively simplistic or prosaic element from his work and thus maintain intact a poetic allusiveness which was shown to be the aspect most appreciated and shared by his discerning public, gratified precisely by this allusive richness. With these scholars we can also associate Hans Belting. Commenting on Giovanni Bellini’s Sacred Allegory (Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi), he argues that the conception of an allegory (in this case one with a religious theme) would have granted the painter a degree of freedom, releasing him from some iconographic conventions, and at the same time would have aroused the intellectual desire to decipher the “hidden subject” among a restricted circle of humanists who could thus have displayed their cultural level by combining aesthetic pleasure with intellectual perspicuity59.

  • 60 S. Settis, Artisti e committenti fra Quattrocento e Cinquecento, Turin 2010, p. 94.

33The function of our painting would therefore have been that of associating itself with what Settis identified as a collective form of patronage: “collective patronage of confraternities in commissioning paintings destined for places of assembly”60. Such places of assembly were those where groups of intellectuals (similar, for example, to that of the abovementioned “Compagnia degli Amici”) could have met to discuss poetry, literature, philosophy and also to compliment each other on their erudition and aesthetic refinement through its pictorial expression, commissioned perhaps from the most important masters of the age.

Conclusions

  • 61 Among the scholars who have recognized the triple paternity I may cite: P. Schubring, 1926, cit.; (...)

34In conclusion, though I do not dissociate myself from those who consider that the Detroit painting is the outcome of a plausible collaboration between Giorgione, Titian and Sebastiano Luciani, recognizing as I do that the stylistic motivations of this proposal are convincing61, I think nonetheless that the interpretation I have here proposed about the meaning of the work in question may retain its validity in large measure unaltered, irrespective of whatever attribution is given to it.

  • 62 I think for example of Christ Taking Leave of his Mother (?) by Jacopo De Barbari (Venice, Galleri (...)
  • 63 I refer for example to three paintings of Bernardino Licinio, namely the Allegory of Music and Lov (...)

35The viewpoint from which the present contribution has been developed prompts me, finally, to emphasize that its aim was not to trace the iconographic source of a painting, nor identify a new genre, that of the “secular vision”. My aim has rather been to try to understand, through the analysis of a particular painting, what the imaginative world of painters and patrons in Venice and its terraferma might have been like in the first half of the sixteenth century, and how this might have been translated into a painted image, following the prescriptions of a “pictorial intelligence” that reasons on itself and conceives of itself as meta-representation of “vision”. This approach, applied to other “similar” paintings, whether sacred62 or profane63, could help, I believe, to extend the investigation of art history to a far wider anthropology of the image.

Notes

1 Oil on canvas, 84 x 69 cm.

2 W. R. Valentiner, A combined work by Titian, Giorgione and Sebastiano del Piombo, in “Bulletin of The Detroit Institute of Arts”, March 1926, vol. VII, n. 6, pp. 62-65.

3 F. J. Mather, An Enigmatic Venetian Picture in Detroit, in “The Art Bulletin”, September 1926, vol. 9, n. 1, pp. 70-75.

4 Sebastiano del Piombo 1485 + 1547, exhibition catalogue, Rome, Palazzo Venezia, 8 February – 18 May 2008, edited by C. Strinati and B. W. Lindemann, Bergamo 2008, pp. 110-111. The catalogue entry for the “Triple Portrait” (no. 8) is by Mauro Lucco, who also summarizes the history and provenance of the painting from the seventeenth century onwards. The exhibition was also presented in Berlin with the title: Raffaels Grazie – Michelangelos Furor. Sebastiano del Piombo (Venedig 1485-Rom 1547), Gemäldegalerie, 28 June-28 September 2008.

5 Document downloaded from the official website of the Detroit Institute of Arts on 21 November 2010: http://www.dia.org/user_area/uploads/FFM% 20Tours%20-%20March2011.pdf.

6 E. M. Dal Pozzolo, Giorgione, Milan 2009, p. 362.

7 On this painter see: B. W. Meijer, Niccolò Frangipane, in “Saggi e memorie di Storia dell’arte”, VII, 1972, pp. 151-191; G. Frings, The “Allegory of Musical Inspiration” by Niccolò Frangipane: New Evidence in Musical Iconography in Sixteenth-Century Northen Italian Painting, in “Artibus et Historiae”, XIV, 28, 1993, pp. 141-160.

8 Sebastiano del Piombo 1485 + 1547, exhibition catalogue, cit.

9 A. Bredius, F. Schmidt-Dagener, Die Grossherzogliche Gemäldegalerie im Augusteum zu Oldenburg, Oldenburg 1906, p. 31.

10 P. Schubring, A surmise concerning the subject of the Venetian Figure Painting in the Detroit Museum, in “Art in America”, 1926, pp. 35-40.

11 W. Suida, Giorgione in American Museums, in “The Art Quarterly”, XIX, 1956, p. 151.

12 E. Guidoni, Giorgione. Opere e significati, Rome 1999, pp. 303-304.

13 P. Holberton, Giorgione’s sfumato, in Giorgione Entmythisiert, edited by S. Ferino-Pagden, Turnhout 2008, p. 63.

14 Mather, cit.

15 Sebastiano del Piombo 1485 + 1547, exhibition catalogue, cit.

16 W. L. Eller, Giorgione Catalogue raisonné. Mystery unveiled, Petersberg 2007, p. 197.

17 E. M. Dal Pozzolo, Colori d’amore. Parole, gesti e carezze nella pittura veneziana del Cinquecento, Treviso 2008, p. 230, note 52; idem, cit., 2009; idem, Il fantasma di Giorgione. Stregonerie pittoriche di Pietro dalla Vecchia nella Venezia falsofila del ‘600, Vicenza 2011, p. 11.

18 On this theory see: G. Careri, Gestes d’amour et de guerre, Paris 2005. Text consulted in the Italian translation: La fabbrica degli affetti. La Gerusalemme liberata dai Carracci a Tiepolo, Milan 2010, p. 202.

19 J. Anderson, The giorgionesque portrait: from likeness to allegory, in Giorgione, proceedings of the international conference, Castelfranco Veneto, 29-31 May 1978, Castelfranco Veneto 1979, p. 157.

20 S. Settis, Esercizi di stile: una Vecchia e un Bambino, in Giorgione Entmythisiert, cit., p. 51.

21 On the concept of «truth» in the iconological method see: P. Bourdieu, Postface à Architecture gothique et pensée scolastique de E. Panofsky, Paris 1967.

22 S. J. Campbell, Giorgione’s “Tempest”, “Studiolo” Culture, and the Renaissance Lucretius, in “Renaissance Quarterly”, 56, 2, Summer 2003, pp. 299-332.

23 C. Falciani, La Tempesta di Giorgione e un poemetto encomiastico dedicato ai Vendramin, in “Studiolo”, 7, 2009, pp. 101-121.

24 On the “impersonal” value of the figure in profile placed opposite the frontal figure see: M. Schapiro, Words, Script and Pictures: Semiotics of Visual Language, New York 1996. Text consulted in the Italian translation: Per una semiotica del linguaggio visivo, edited by G. Perini, Rome 2002, p. 162.

25 H. Economopoulos, Considerazioni sui ruoli dimenticati: gli “Amanti” di Paris Bordon e la figura del compare d’anello, in “Venezia Cinquecento”, II, 3, January-June 1992, pp. 108-112.

26 The paintings of Titian in question include the following: Venus with Organ Player and Little Dog (Madrid, Prado), Venus with Organ Player, Cupid and Little Dog (Berlin, Gemäldegalerie), and Venus with a Lute Player (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art). On these works Panofsky comments: “Titian, musician as well as painter, has in the end accorded equal dignity to the senses of hearing and of sight” (E. Panofsky, Problems in Titian. Mostly Iconographic, New York 1969, p. 125).

27 On this painting see J. Fletcher, Donor portraits in Venetian and Veneto Altarpieces during the Renaissance, in Paolo Veronese. The Petrobelli’s Altarpiece, exhibition catalogue, English version, London, Dulwich Picture Gallery, 10 February - 3 May 2009, edited by X. F. Salamon, Milan 2009, p. 33.

28 On this painting see at least: F. Cortesi Bosco, La lettura religiosa devozionale e l’iconologia di alcuni dipinti di Lorenzo Lotto, in “Bergomum”, 1-2, 1976, pp. 3-25.

29 On this painting see further: S. Facchinetti, Moroni in visione, in Giovan Battista Moroni. Lo sguardo della realtà (1560-1579), exhibition catalogue, Bergamo, Museo Adriano Bernareggi, 13 November 2004-3 April 2005, edited by S. Facchinetti, Milan 2004, p. 136.

30 Lorenzo Lotto. Il genio inquieto del Rinascimento, exhibition catalogue, Bergamo, Accademia Carrara, 2 April-28 June 1998, edited by D. A. Brown, P. Humfrey and M. Lucco, cat. entry no. 25 by M. Lucco, p. 151.

31 On this question see: R. Klein, La forme et l’intelligible, Paris 1970; G. Agamben, Stanze. La parola e il fantasma nella cultura occidentale (1977), Turin 2006.

32 Aristotle, De anima (On the soul), tr. by H. Lawson-Tancred, Harmondworth 1986.

33 Cf. Giacomo da Lentini’s canzone Madonna, dir vo voglio and the canzonetta Meravigliosa-mente in both of which the motif of the image of the loved woman painted in the heart of the lover recurs (E.F. Langely, The Poetry of Giacomo da Lentino, Sicilian Poet of the XIIIth Century, Cambridge-Mass. 1915).
On the Venetian troubadours see: I trovatori nel Veneto e a Venezia, proceedings of the congress, Venice, 28-31 October 2004, Rome-Padua 2008.

34 Andreas Capellanus, On Love, ed. and tr. by P. G. Walsh, London, 1982, book I, chapter 1.1.

35 Cf. G. Agamben, cit., p. 30. For an analysis of the role of the phantasmata and the correlation between internal senses and love see: M. Ciavolella, La stanza della memoria: amore e malattia nel “Secretum” e nei “Rerum vulgarium fragmenta” in “Quaderni d’Italia”, 11, 2006, pp. 55-63.

36 M. Ficino, Commentary on Plato’sSymposyium on Love”, tr. by S. Jayne, Dallas 1985.

37 Lucretius’s De rerum natura was discovered in 1417 and printed for the first time 1473 in Brescia, subsequently Verona 1486, Venice 1495, 1500 (Aldus), 1515, Bologna 1511, Florence 1512, Paris 1514, Basel 1531. In 1517-1518 the Council of Florence prohibited Lucretius as reading material for schools because the author denies the immortality of the human soul. On the influence of the De rerum natura in the Renaissance see: V. Prosperi, “Di soavi licor gli orli del vaso: la fortuna di Lucrezio dall’Umanesimo alla Controriforma, Turin 2004.

38 On Ercole Sassonia’s De Melancholia and the pathology of love melancholy in the sixteenth century I am indebted to G. Tanfani, Il concetto di melanconia nel Cinquecento, in “Rivista di storia della scienze mediche e naturali”, January-June 1948, XXXIX, 1, pp. 145-168.

39 Averroös, Commentarium Magnum in Aristotelis De anima, edited by F. S. Crawford, Cambridge (Mass.) 1953, 1. II, c. 68-73.

40 Albertus Magnus, De intellectu et Intelligibili, in Opera Omnia, edited by A. Borgnet and E. Borgnet, Paris 1890, vol. IX.

41 For a critical reading of the texts of Averroös and Albertus Magnus see: E. Coccia, La trasparenza delle immagini. Averroè e l’averroismo, Milan 2005, expecially pp. 108-143; on the philosophic concept of transparency and diaphanousness see: A. Vasiliu, Le transparent, le diaphane et l’image, in Trasparences, edited by P.Dubus, Paris 1999, pp. 15-29. On the concept of diaphanousness in painting see: G. Didi-Huberman, La peinture incarnée, Paris 1985, in particular pp. 28-30.

42 Ciavolella, cit.

43 P. Bembo, Gli Asolani, in Prose e rime, edited by C. Dionisotti, Turin 1971, p. 464.

44 It is interesting to note that touch is considered the sense par excellence that is linked to eros in Mario Equicola’s famous treatise De natura de amore. This treatise on love, which owes much to Plato and Aristotle, was composed between 1505 and 1525, and published for the first time in Venice in 1525. See: M. Takanashi, Apoteosi del tatto: Correggio e Mario Equicola, in L’arte erotica del Rinascimento, proceedings of the international conference, Tokio 2008, Tokio 2009, pp. 32-33.

45 Lucretius himself speaks of the simulacra of the dead: De rerum natura IV, 35 (“simulacraque luce carentum”) and 733-734 (“simulacraque eorum quorum morte obita tellus amplectitur ossa”).

46 Diogenes Laertius (Lives of the Philosophers): The Letter of Epicurus to Herodotus, Book 10, section 49-50. The English translation cited here is that by C.D. Yonge (1895), accessible on the website attalus. org/old/diogenes10a.html. Cf. the Italian translation: Epicuro, Epistola a Erodoto, translation by F. Verde, pp. 41-43, no. 49-50.

47 Cf. J. Grabski, “Mundus Amoris – Amor Mundus”. L’allegoria dell’amore di Tiziano nel Museo del Louvre, in “Artibus et Historiae” I, 2, 1980, p. 45.

48 Cf. S. Bertelli, Il re, la Vergine, la sposa. Eros, maternità e potere nella cultura figurativa europea, Rome 2002, p. 90.

49 Lucretius, De rerum natura IV, 1093-1096: “Ex hominis vero facie pulchroque colore nil datur in corpus praeter simulacra fruendum tenvia; quae vento spes raptast saepe misella” (“But, from human face and lovely bloom naught penetrates our frame to be enjoyed save flimsy idol-images and vain - a sorry hope which oft the winds disperse”. Translated by W.E. Leonard, 2011).

50 The “Ludovisi” Double Portrait should perhaps be interpreted in this sense. A comparison with a passage in Lucretius is useful in this regard: De rerum natura IV, 1073-1076: “Nec Veneris fructu caret is qui vitat amorem, sed potius quae sunt sine poena commoda sumit. Nam purast sanis magis inde voluptas quam miseris”. Verses in which the difference between those who enjoy the “fruits” of love and those contrariwise who suffer the anguish of love is emphasized.

51 A. Ballarin, Giorgione e la Compagnia degli Amici: Il “Doppio ritratto” Ludovisi, in Storia dell’Arte Italiana, vol. 5, Dal Medioevo al Quattrocento, edited by F. Zeri, Turin 1983, pp. 481-541.

52 Ibid., p. 497.

53 Ibid., p. 530.

54 D. Battilotti, Taddeo Contarini, in I tempi di Giorgione (1490-1510), edited by R. Maschio, Tivoli 1994, pp. 205-207.

55 On Quirini and Giustiniani, Campbell writes as follows: “Among the humanistic pursuits Quirini left behind was his critical work on the text of Lucretius, acknowledged by Aldus in his edition of 1500. Remarkably, however, even in holy orders the saintly Giustiniani would profess himself to be a follower of Epicurus” (Campbell, cit., p. 328).

56 On Navagero and his knowledge of Lucretius see: M. Paladini, Suggestioni Lucreziane ne L’Amor Sacro e L’Amor Profano di Tiziano, in Lucrezio e l’Epicureismo tra Riforma e Controriforma, Napoli 2011, pp. 232-235; H. Borggrefe, Titian’s Three Ages of Man, Carlo Ridolfiand Lucretius’s De rerum natura, in “Studi Tizianeschi”, VI-VII, 2011, pp. 14-15.

57 E. H. Gombrich, Art and Illusion. A study in the Psychology of pictorial Representation, London 1962, p. 196.

58 C. Ginzburg, Da Warburg a Gombrich, in Miti emblemi spie. Morfologia e storia, Turin 1986, p. 78.

59 H. Belting, Giovanni Bellini. Pietà. Ikone und Bilderzählung in der venezianischen Malerei, München 1985. Text consulted in the Italian translation: Giovanni Bellini. La Pietà, translated by M. Pedrazzi, Modena 1996, p. 66.

60 S. Settis, Artisti e committenti fra Quattrocento e Cinquecento, Turin 2010, p. 94.

61 Among the scholars who have recognized the triple paternity I may cite: P. Schubring, 1926, cit.; W. R. Valentiner, 1926, cit.; P. Zampetti, Giorgione e i Giorgioneschi, exhibition catalogue, Venice 1955, p. 96; W. Suida (1956), cit. pp. 150-151; Pallucchini, Tiziano, 2 vols., Florence 1969, II, p. 238; B. B. Fredericksen and F. Zeri, Census of Pre-Ninetheenth Century Italian Paintings in North American Pubilc Collections, Cambridge (Mass.) 1972, pp. 87, 185, 202; R. Pallucchini and F. Rossi, Giovanni Cariani, Bergamo 1983, pp. 288-291. For a more complete list of the attributions pro or contra the triple hand see: P. Rynalds, Palma il Vecchio, Cambridge 1992, pp. 271-272 and M. Lucco, Sebastiano del Piombo 1485 + 1547, exhibition catalogue, cit.,

62 I think for example of Christ Taking Leave of his Mother (?) by Jacopo De Barbari (Venice, Galleria Franchetti at Ca’d’Oro), Christ and the Adulteress by Palma il Vecchio (Rome, Pinacoteca Capitolina) and also the famous Presentation of Jesus in the Temple by Giovanni Bellini, (Venice, Fondazione Querini Stampalia).

63 I refer for example to three paintings of Bernardino Licinio, namely the Allegory of Music and Love [?] (Milan, private collection), The Concert (London, Royal Collection) and The Lovers (unknown location), or the better known Concert by Titian (Florence, Palazzo Pitti).

Table des illustrations

Légende [Triple portrait]. Attribution incertaine: Giorgione (1477-1510), Sebastiano del Piombo (1485-1547), Titien (1489-1576). Detroit, the Detroit Institute of Arts
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Auteur

Prépare un doctorat en histoire de l’art à l’Università degli Studi di Bergamo et à l’Université de Perpignan Via Domitia dans le cadre de l’Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate Cultural Studies in Literary Interzones. Sa thèse s’intitule Fantasmi, Angeli e Ninfe. Tracce per un percorso storico-antropologico nella pittura nord italiana fra XVI e XVIII secolo.

© Presses universitaires de Perpignan, 2012

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