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Session of April 7

Lecture of M. Warren Kirkendale, under the patronage of M. Marc FUMAROLI : « The Source of the Iconological Program of Giorgione’s Tempesta: Hesiod’s Theogony ».

In this communication, Professor Warren Kirkendale will present an ancient Greek literary source for the iconological Program of Giorgione’s ‘Tempesta’: Hesiod’s Theogony. It was better known in Venice, when the so-called ‘Tempesta’ was painted there, than most literary ’sources’ already proposed. In none of the over fifty different interpretations of the painting hitherto attempted, has a substantial number of passages been quoted which correspond closely to elements of the painting, as can now be done with Hesiod. The relevant passages from this work are the proem (verses 1-39), which tells how the muses inspired the shepherd-poet Hesiod, who is shown as the man in the painting, and the succession myth of Zeus (verses 453 -506), who appears as an infant with his anthropomorphic goat-nurse Amalthea. As often in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, successive events are depicted also by Giorgione in a single picture: thus Rhea’s substitution of her newborn son Zeus by a stone when his father Cronus wanted to swallow also him; the later disgorging of the stone; the nursing of Zeus by Amalthea; his later victory over Cronus; and his erection of an altar to commemorate this. With the help of Vitruvius’ De Architectura (ca. 25-23 B.C., ed. 1486) and Leon Battista Alberti’s De Re Aedificatoria (1485), each of the nine houses in the painting is assigned to a muse.


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