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Giorgione's Tempest, studiolo culture, and the Renaissance Lucretius *.



Much recent writing Giorgione's Tempest (Fig 1.) conveys the impression of wishing to staunch the prolific flow of interpretations. Little conveys the sense of anything gained from previous commentaries on the painting, or from the rich contextual explorations of Venetian culture such research has often involved. Many suggestive insights, resulting from investigation of the painting's visual sources, its possible references to contemporary circumstances, its curiously archetypal character, have become buried, withheld from later investigation by an impulse to closure characteristic of iconographical studies. An ironic sense of despondency has haunted many discussions of this painting of gathering darkness, together with gloomy metacritical reflections on the interpretative project of art history itself, and discussions of the Tempest have for some epitomized the discipline in its most benighted state. (2) The present essay, which addresses the meaning of the painting through a redefinition of its cultural context, inevitably adds to an already over-encumbered bibliography on Giorgione, but it will also make a case for the merit of several previo us interpretations, and for their value as cultural history. Far from maintaining that all previous readings 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 meaningfully defined as a tracing of a work's embeddedness in a cultural milieu, and it is finally towards an understanding of the latter that the more useful interpretations tend. In this sense, the strongest work on the painting has sought to align it both with the practices of art collecting around 1500, and with Venetian literary culture. (3) Some have proposed its classification as a poesia, that is, as a painted equivalent for a poem, or a work which produces "poetic" effects through painterly means. (4) Less certain, however, is the exact basis according to which the Tempest can be designated a "painted poem. Poesia is presumed to be a genre in itself. In this sense, the strongest work on the painting has sought to align it both with the rather than as manifesting any relation to the genres of literary composition, or to the contested significance of poetry during the years of Giorgione's activity. (5) In what follows, Giorgione's painting will be identified with a humanist theory and practice of poesia around 1500, but a conception which would also have been meaningful for the first owner of the picture, the Venetian patrician and collector Gabriele Vend ramin (1484-1552).

Precisely at the time when Giorgione was painting, two centuries of debate regarding the status of the poetic art were culminating in increasingly elaborate attempts to establish the morality, civilizing benefit, and claim to truth of poetry; which centered on the reading and imitation of one of the most controversial and sensational of all ancient poetic texts: the De rerum natura of Lucretius. (6) The humanist response to Lucretius, the conception of the function of poetry and the field of poetic practice enabled by the De rerum natura, here provides the principal dimension for the understanding of Giorgione's painting. Lucretius, along with Virgil, was by 1500 becoming central to a humanist concept of reading poetry as a moral formation of the self, centered on private reflection and contemplative detachment. In Venice, such an ethical and pedagogical notion of reading had emerged as a response to a long-standing disdain for poetry on the part of the city's intelligentsia. One of the characteristic produc ts of Venetian humanism in the Quattrocento had been the Orationes contra poetas (1455) of Ermolao Barbaro the Elder (1410-71), an unsparing demonstration of the mendacity and uselessness of poetry. (7) Two learned Venetian contemporaries of Vendramain, Pietro Quirini (1478-1514) and Paolo Giustiniani (1476-1528), were equally unsparing in their censure of profane literature in a pamphlet addressed to Leo X in 15l3. (8) Yet Gabriele Vendramin maintained links to a more positive culture of reading through his known contacts with humanist scholars of antiquity, through his authorship of a poem about St. Thomas Aquinas, and also through his ownership of a camerino or studiolo, a space where the identity of private reader and amateur scholar coincided with that of collector. Reading and collecting could both be rationalized according to the same virtuous end, which was the detachment of the mind from worldly cares and perturbations. (9)

A decorated, intimate space called camerino, studiolo, or stanzino, and devoted to reading and collecting, was a feature of many aristocratic and princely households by 1500. (10) Giorgione's painting was first encountered in the camerino delle antigaglie--the little chamber of antiquities in the home of Gabriel Vendramin, who elsewhere referred to "el mio studio over Chamerin. (11) Dora Thornton and Paula Findlen have both recently demonstrated the ways in which the domestic studiolo and camerino served as a spatial expression of the notion of the private individual. (12) Privacy and individuality were privileges that came with the ownership and leadership of a household and especially, as we might surmise in Vendramin's case, with membership in an elite political class. Yet beginning with the aristocratic stuclioli of the fifteenth century, this same space was also the site where the cultivated self had been produced and put on display for an audience through the accumulation of precious objects advertising the taste and refinement of their owner, and through painting on mythological or poetic themes where the normally private and interior experience of reading was given a visible, intersubjective, and social form. The self could be constructed and revealed through the mute but richly equivocal language of painting and sculpture, defining the owner's "personal space even in his or her absence: Vendramin took pains to ensure that the precious collection contained within and beyond his study would remain intact at his death. The walls and shelves of the study, in other words, projected a version of the interior life of its chief occupant, albeit a version sometimes produced in collaboration with literary specialists and in the language of poetic invention.

The assimilation of collecting to reading and to virtuous scholarly leisure was frequently articulated in opposition to a long-standing humanist polemic against the vanity and superficiality of any profession of virtue or distinction through the ownership of things. (14) Humanists occasionally deplored the turning of books into luxury commodities through their lavish ornamentation, and the general conversion of scholarly discipline into aristocratic forms of display. (15) In one well-known instance, Paolo Manuzio (1512-74) found himself having to insist, in a letter of 1552 to Andrea Loredan, that Loredan's collections of antiquities were "not material goods ... a gem which one may obtain at a price" but "virtuous riches" which "will bear witness to your fine mind, and to your very noble thoughts, in future centuries." (16) It is specially noteworthy that Manuzio proclaims the possession and contemplation of antiquities to surpass even the reading of ancient authors as a means of knowing the past: "looking in tently at such objects, one gathers in the mind as much knowledge in a short span of hours as one does after years of reading Livy and Polybius, and all the ancient historians put together." (17)

Placed amongst his famous collection of ancient fragments, Vendramin's painting by Giorgione would have spoken to him and to his visitors of his own relationship to his collection. As we shall see, it was an image of that very principle through which at the end of his life he would justify his investment in collecting. In his will of 1548, he justified the preservation of his collection of paintings and antiquities "most of all because they have brought a little peace and quiet to my soul during the many labors of mind and body that I have endured in conducting the family business"; he expressed the hope (in vain, as it turned out) that his collection be held intact for the edification of future "homeni studiosi de virtu." (18) The pleasure afforded by such things was not to be seen as base, acquisitive pleasure, but according to a morally beneficial idea of pleasure. Vendramin, a member of a distinguished family who devoted much of his life to public and family business, was one of several patricians who so ught to associate himself, as patron and collector, with the contemporary Venetian world of classical scholarship and antiquarianism, counting Bernardo Bembo (1433-15 19) among his acquaintances and the younger Ermolao Barbaro (1453/54-92) among his relatives. (19) In the same testament, after exhorting his nephews to maintain the study of naval strategy and navigation, he insisted that they "not abandon the study of letters." In 1540 the architect and theorist Sebastiano Serlio (1475-1554) remarked that Vendramin, "a most severe castigator of things licentious," was one of the men of his age most equipped to appreciate the architectural principles of Vitruvius. (20) Among other paintings by Giorgione, Vendramin owned a work known as The Education of Marcus Aurelius, again suggesting that Vendramin found affirmation of his own morally rigorous outlook in the ethical and pedagogical legacy of the ancient philosophers. (21)

The Tempest is not simply a passive product of this elite culture of collecting, but, like the collector's camerino, it is itself an active producer of cultural identity for its owner, an expression in visual and tangible form of the values of reading, collecting, and contemplation. But before we can establish the relation of the image to such concerns, we must first address the interpretative tradition of Giorgione's painting, and the problems raised by the earliest references to the image. The gentleman and connoisseur Marcantonio Michiel, who made highly selective notes on illustrious private collections of his time, referred in 1530 to "El paesetto in rela cun la tempesta, cun Ia cingana et soldato" (the little landscape on canvas with the storm, with the gypsy and soldier). A 1569 description in an inventory of Vendramin's collection is more cursory and differs in several particulars: una cingana, un pastor in un paeseto con un ponte" (a gypsy, a shepherd in a little landscape with a bridge). (22) Clear ly the rendering of landscape was what was important to these earlier viewers, and their descriptions of the figures as soldier, gypsy, and shepherd suggests that they saw these as "attributes" of the landscape.

The Tempest, probably painted not long before Giorgione's death in 1510, is indeed unprecedented in Italian art in its rendering of the natural world in an instantaneous moment of shifting appearances, manifesting what one writer has called a new "phenomenological response to the problem of time." (23) The only comparable work to pursue the same effects is Lorenzo Lotto's portrait-cover in the Washington National Gallery, which significantly employs the elements of atmospheric, cloud-laden landscape in the service of allegory. (24) Giorgione's picture has been equally effective in persuading its modern interpreters on one hand that it is an allegory to be deciphered, and on the other that it is a strikingly modern rendering of a landscape, with figures, for its own sake: a man with a staff, dressed in a white shirt with ornate hose and breeches, pauses in a darkening landscape to look in the direction of a nearly-naked woman seated at the further edge of a pool or stream which divides the foreground. The wom an nurses a child, and looks nor towards the man, but in the direction of the beholder. Such an acknowledgment places the viewer at the apex of a triangle, at an equal fictional distance from the male and female figures. We are notionally separated from them by the water in the immediate foreground, just as this same body of water isolates the two main figures from each other. Behind the man, a pair of broken columns appears, along with a portion of wall with marble revetment. In the background is a fortified city, its walls illuminated by the meteorological event which has given the painting its name--a flash of lightning signalling the onset of a tempest.

While some interpreters have focused on the encounter of the two main figures to identifr a biblical or classical subject (Adam and Eve, Mars and Venus, Danae), others have scrutinized the picture for a hidden or hermetic significance. (25) For these latter readings the painting is seen to depict the four elements (designated by the pool, the moist earth, the dense, churning clouds, the lightning bolt), or to illustrate a philosophical adage (Harmonia est discordia concors), or again to allude to astrological and alchemical knowledge. (26) For others, the philosophical dimension incorporates the realm of artistic concerns; Giorgione's art is associated with a "scientific" mentality; the investigation and unprecedented representation of the optical effects of particular weather conditions. (27) More recently, certain marginal and indistinct details are seen to connect the imagery with the predicament of Venice during the wars of 1508-10. But this historical reading inevitably resorts again to a principle of al legory: the tempest itself becomes a metaphor for the "storm of war" and for the fortuna of Venice. Still others have attempted to coordinate the political reading, which requires a certain exegetical ingenuity, with astrological and hermetic interpretation. (28)

Such readings do suggest ways in which a Cinquecento observer may have made sense of such a highly-charged sequence of probably familiar poetic topoi: a wanderer whose proper domain is the city, a female characterized as a mother and closely associated with a "wild" landscape in which the four elements are indeed presented through a spectacular dynamic interplay. It has recently been noted, for instance, that the motif of wanderer in confrontation with a maternal female occurs in two texts which epitomize the most experimental tendencies in contemporary vernacular literature: the prose-romance known as the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, published by Aldus in 1499 (Fig. 2), (29) as well as Jacopo Sannazaro's Arcadia, a pastoral work in prose and verse which appeared in Naples in 1504, but which was widely read throughout Italy. (30) We ate 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 d etermine what poetic kind we are dealing with here, a framing principle of poetic genre which could set reasonable limits to interpretation.

The Tempest has sometimes been classed as a poesia, on the basis of a passage in a 1548 treatise on painting by Paolo Pino which called for painters to observe a kind of meronymic brevity and improvisatory technique analogous to the poets "in their comedies and other compositions." (31) Yet Pino also characterized painting as poetry in terms which would have been quite acceptable to Leon Barrisra 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 propria poesia, cioe invenzione." (32) However, those who identify Giorgione's painting with his poesia have often asserted the self-sufficiency of his imagery, as if it were poetic only according to a rather narrow sense of poetic invention grounded in the vernacular lyric. (33) A related claim is that the Tempest participates in--even inaugurates--a kind of pure genre painting, and that it could be classed wit h 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 that they reproduce its subject and its meaning. The Tempest manifests a singularity, even a deep strangeness, which cannot be explained away or reduced to generic terms.

Formal resemblance alone is an unreliable basis on which to determine significance; conversely, the differences between the Tempest and the works it most closely resembles are more telling. (34) For instance, as John Hale has 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 (36) While 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; it is by no means apparent that they are aware of each other.

Given that both sixteenth-century references are inaccurate in their characterization of the male figure, we might wonder what to make of their conception of the woman as a cingana, or gypsy. While the man is inscribed with a social identity (albeit an ambiguous one) through his costume, the woman seems strangely "placeless" in terms of social category or literary genre, and perhaps this is the reason why she was assigned the identity of a nomad, one who dwells everywhere and nowhere, neither properly of the city nor of the country. Her depiction with a nursing child clearly distinguishes her from images of the female nude in "Arcadian" landscapes, which are largely characterized in terms of their erotic appeal; at the same time, her placid nudity in the face of a gathering storm might make us wonder about the relation recently proposed to the contemporary social reality of gypsies, camp-followers, and "primitives" (a point discussed below). (37) While Giorgione may indeed have drawn upon Netherlandish or Ger man landscape prints as models which would have been familiar to his spectators, he may have done so precisely because he wanted his spectators to notice a crucial difference in his invention, the specificity of the Tempest's pictorial syntax. Michiel may have been led to his own description of the painting by the popularity of this genre, which sometimes shows "outsiders" or bohemian figures, but he clearly underlined the unique element which is not found in any of the closest pictorial analogues for the Tempest, or found in its imitations: the storm itself. (38)


The great classical locus for the discussion of storms and lightning is the De rerum natura of Lucretius, where storms are presented almost defiantly as natural phenomena, devoid of portent or supernatural significance. As a poet of nature who attacked superstition, Lucretius was at precisely this rime becoming important in a definition of the function and vocation of the poet in which Virgil remained the central figure, and it is through the "Virgilian" understanding of poetry that Lucretius would have become known to his north Italian audience. As Craig Kallendorf has recently shown, the reading of Virgil in moral and therapeutic terms was especially prevalent in Venice in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. (39) The marginal annotations of Venetian readers studied by Kallendorf all correspond with an understanding of Virgil, and of his place in the moral organization of private life, which had been characteristic of merchant-writers and humanists in Florence during the previous century: "ende avor to study Virgil, Boethius, Seneca or other authors for at least an hour every day, as if you were still in school. This will result in great benefit to your mind: by studying the teachings of these authors, you shall know how you should act in your present life, both for the health of your soul and for the usefulness and honor of your body.... when you come of age and your intellect begins to savor the reason for things and the sweetness of knowledge, you shall derive as much pleasure out of it, as much delight, as much consolation as you do out of anything in the world." This writer, the Florentine merchant Giovanni Pagolo Morelli (writing between 1393 and 1421), had singled out Virgil as answering to the most pressing needs served by study and meditation: "he will answer your questions and will advise and teach you at no cost whatsoever; he shall take away your melancholy thoughts, and give you pleasure and consolation." (40)

Around 1500, in Venice and elsewhere, Virgil was central to discussions of poetry as a form of knowledge which animates and discloses its truths through the veils of figurative language. Cristoforo Landino (1425-98) had argued for the place of Virgil and Dante in the moral formation of the individual, while Angelo Poliziano (1454-94) and Codro Urceo (1446-1500) celebrated Homer and Virgil as encyclopedic authorities, as compendious as nature itself. (41) But in Gian Gioviano Pontano's dialogues of the 1490s, Aegidius and Actius, the example of Lucretius is coupled with Virgil in an argument for the philosophical importance of poetry, and for the revelatory force of sublime poetic diction and sensuous images in transforming the consciousness of a reader. In the period of intense Lucretian study and publication with which the century opens, it was increasingly apparent to Renaissance commentators that Virgil had himself drawn heavily on Dc rerum natura. (42) It is the very poem which could occupy the space betw een the epic and the eclogue, combining the scale and elevated visionary style of the former with the historical and "meta-poeric" compass of the latter. Pontano (1422-1503) was one of several humanist poets who sought to defend the worth of poetry by turning from elegy and epigram to more didactic models, such as the Lucretian philosophical poem; these also included Lorenzo Bonincontri (1410-91) in Naples, Bartolomeo Scala (1430-97) and Poliziano in Florence, and Baptista Mantuanus (ca. 1447-1516) in Mantua. (43) There was no greater proof of the intrinsic seriousness of poetry than demonstrations of its capacity to handle more weighty subject-matter, and in the fulfillment of a three-fold aim clarified by Pontano: to give pleasure, to create wonder, and to instruct. (44) His astrological poem Urania (composed between 1475 and 1503) was written to demonstrate that the Muses teach science, and that classical mythology, handled with considerable license by the poet, could reveal the order of the cosmos itself. Pontano's poetic mission, explicitly fashioned after that of Lucretius, was described succinctly in an earlier collection of shorter (and mainly amorous) verse known as Parthenopeus (1.6:25-30). (45)

Then, provided that I live, as an old man leaning over the Castalian spring I will wet my lips with the sacred waters, and I will relate the arrangement of the four elements through images (figuris). Fire first, after that the place of air. Then the earth, placed at center of the cosmos by the force of its own might, holding an equal distance on all sides, stolidly maintaining the place allotted to it and washed by father Oceanus with waves and foam, and divided by a body of water embracing its middle. There are two parts, of which the upper is named from the north pole and the lower from the opposite. Around these are turned the machine of the immense cosmos, as if the axis felt no burden. Then I shall tell of the seeds of the generation of things and from whence everything draws its lofty origin--from whence the timidity of the deer, the rage and ferocity of the lion, why the crow sings harshly and the swan sweetly, which kind of springs are hot and why the earth might be warm at night and cold at midday. I will seek out the end which nature assigned to all created things, whether centaurs or Scylla can exist, why the moon is lit by the light of its brother and not of its own, and the origins of the constellations of Procyon and the Horse. It was once the chief care of blessed souls of better destiny to know such things; not for them the pursuit of gems or desire for wealth, but with chaste hearts they investigated the temple of the sky. (45)

In his attack on practitioners of sensuous and pagan verse, Contra poetas impudice loquentes (1500), the Carmelite Baptista Mantuanus provided a similar list of philosophical themes for poetry, through which poets could avoid the "prostitution" of the Muses and the "commerce" of Venus:

There is the Three-Person God eternally worthy of praise, from which the first seeds of things have their birth, the stellar offspring of spirits and the tenfold heavens, the motions of the stars and their multiple pathways, the souls of the divine ones which virtue endows with shining ether, who are called saints and martyrs . . . . There are the elements which bestow substance on transitory things, and feed their eternal death; the things which the air brings forth, those to which the sea gives birth, or which the wonder-working earth produces from its rich womb; the many-colored face of the fields and the crested forests, the many-voiced birds and the multi-wandering beasts; there are the parts of wisdom, ingenious mathematics, and the litigious words of the clamorous forum, and the lives of men; these are occupations worthy of poetry, the many actions conducted in public and in private." (46)

It is noteworthy that despite the Carmelite poet's opposition to Epicureanism, manifest in his reference to God and the saints, in his repertoire of cosmic themes he explicitly evokes Lucretius with the phrase "curiouslywrought earth" (daedala terra). (47)

In the discussion on Giorgione that follows, it is proposed that a consideration of the Tempest in relation to such reflections on the scope of poetry allows for a reading which might be more encompassing than previous interpretations have allowed. Given Pontano's status as the foremost humanist and Latin poet in Italy by the time of his death in 1503, and the publication of Urania along with other works in Venice by the Aldine Press in 1505, his use of Lucretius to conceive of the vocation of poet was very probably known to Giorgione's circle and to his patrons. Annotations on three copies of the second Renaissance edition of Lucrerius, which was printed in Venice in 1495, referred to Ponrano's twenty years of work on the text, and a later Venetian edition, the Giunra of 1512, explicitly acknowledged his editorial work. (48)

At least three other Giorgionesque works are concerned with a visual summation of the nature of poetry, even with the "portrayal" of various genres -- the Pastoral Concert, the Laura in Vienna, and the Hampton Court Shepherd. Given these interests among his patrons, a "portrait" of didactic or philosophical poetry forms a very plausible commission at this time.49 For it will be seen that the imagery of the painting responds to debates on the edifying nature (as opposed to the frivolity or vanity) of poetry and, in turn, on the practices of private reading and contemplation.

The painting, like Pontano's Urania, is a response not only to the question of poetry's status around 1500, but to an ongoing controversy regarding the De rerum natura itself, which had had a mixed fortune since its rediscovery by Poggio Bracciolini in 1417. (50) Acclaimed for the beauty of its Latin style, the work was regarded with suspicion and outright hostility for its profession of the doctrines of Epicurus, namely the assertion of a cosmos devoid of Divine Providence and the denial of the soul's immortality. (51) Yet the poem offered too much else that was compelling for it to be ignored. Its ethical outlook of restraint and detachment compared honorably with that of the Stoics; it was a rich repository of scientific knowledge, chiefly meteorology, physiology, as well as what might be called sociology and psychology; and in its mythological tableaux it offered a hermeneutic for the study and poetic use of fable. It is in the latter dimension that the poem enters the visual culture of the late Quattroce nto: from the 1480s, it served as a source of inventions for mythological paintings by Borticelli and Piero di Cosimo. (52) Yet Renaissance art may owe a great deal more, to an extent which remains to be examined, to a poem deeply engaged with the nature of vision itself. (53) The concern with vision is manifest in the elaborate exposition of a theory of perception and cognition, of the nature of color, the relation between visual sensation and imagination, and in the text's own strikingly visual character, a vivid and even painterly quality which the poem's first commentator, writing in 1511, referred to as "drawn and painted with all the true pigments of eloquence." (54)

All of the crucial elements of Giorgione's painting-- wanderer, nursing nude female, ruined columns, and, most importantly, the lighting bolt--can be accounted for through Lucretius' poem and the specific interests of its Renaissance readers, as manifest in Pontano's imitations and justifications of the "sublime" didactic genre, which instructs while inspiring awe. Nonetheless, the painting is not an illustration of Lucretius: it is an imitation, and resembles literary imitations of Lucretius from the late Quattrocento particularly in that elements of the poem are translated into the terms of the contemporary world. As a point of departure, it might be noted that in Dan Lettieri's recent account of Giorgione's picture, the female figure has been identified as "madre universal, benigna terra," a goddess of Nature or the earth invoked by the distraught lover Sincero in Sannazaro's Arcadia; the goddess appears to Sincero and disperses the stormy clouds of his unruly passion. (55) The figure has also been identi fied more than once as the goddess Venus as she is encountered, in the form of a cult statue over a fountain, by another lovelorn hero -- Poliphilo in the Hypnerotomachia. (56) Both interpretations are far from incompatible; in fact, while they are argued on the basis of contemporaneous texts -- Sannazaro's Arcadia as well as the Hypnerotomachia -- an association of Venus with Tellus mater and primum natura creatrix can be found in the common intertext for both Renaissance compositions, which is the De rerum natura. (57) common principle is that the contemplation of strife or turmoil -- in the elements of the cosmos or in oneself -- leads to a form of understanding that brings an end to mental perturbation, whether this has been brought on by an excess of passion and desire, or by irrational fear.

Giorgione presents the confrontation between mankind and an indifferent, but potentially violent, natural realm that is central to Lucretius' poem. The painting also presents, in the disposition of its human figures exposed to the storm, the contemplation, equanimity, and detachment in the face of adversity which are the central ethical values preached by the Latin poet. This serene detachment is enjoined on the reader in circumstances of war and civic turmoil which form the background of Lucretius' writing, and before the manifestations of a cruelly indifferent nature to which humanity is nakedly exposed. Most importantly, the ruling and recurring image of nature's appalling indifference is the storm and the lightning bolt, the randomly recurrent tumult of a heaven empty of divine agency The storm is the supreme manifestation of a natural phenomenon which credulous humanity interprets as the hostile will of the gods, and which the Epicurean calmly and rightly confronts as an explicable and unfrightening phe nomenon. In the poem the storm looms as a constant sign of that which keeps man in a state of benighted ignorance, a phenomenon needing to be demythologized: In book 5(1218-21) the poet asks: "whose mind does not shrink up with fear of the gods, whose limbs do not crawl with terror, when the scorched earth quakes with the shivering shock of a lightning blast (fulminis) and rumblings run through the mighty sky?" (58) In the following book he offers what amounts to a redemption from the terror of the storm: "[I will explain how the furious storms] of winds arise, and how they are calmed, so that all is once mote what it was, changed and its fury appeased; and [I will explain] all else that men see happening in earth and sky; when they are often held in suspense with affrighted wits--happenings which abase their spirits through fear of the gods, keeping them crushed to the earth." (59)

The climax of the poem in book 6 is the explication of storms; its preeminent status is suggested by the following passage, and by the subsequent invocation of Calliope, the Muse of "serious" poetry: "The law and aspect of the sky have to be understood; storms and bright lightnings have to be sung, what they do, and by what cause they are set in motion at any time; that you may not, like one senseless, divide up the heavens into quarters, and tremble to see from which direction the flying fire has come, or to which of the two halves it has passed hence...Men are unable to see the causes of these works at all, and think them to be done by divine power." (60)

The storm is a "pious strife" (5:38, pio nequaquam hello) of the elements which, it has been pointed out, are all portrayed in Giorgione's picture--air, water, and fire (in the form of lightning), all bearing down upon the earth (we can here recall Pontano's promise to deliver a figura of the four elements). (61) Springtime and autumn are the principal seasons for thunderstorms "and it is no wonder," Lucrerius, writes "if at that time very many thunderbolts are made, and a turbulent tempest is stirred up in the sky; since all is confusion with well-matched warfare on both sides, on this part flames, and on that, winds and water commingled." (62) It is striking how this otherwise ominous mingling of the elements relates to the realms of optical sensation which Giorgione pursues in his distinctive painterly technique. The Lucretian flux and interaction of elements are figured in that atmospheric tonal unity for which the painter is so often praised. Giorgione's rendering of this atmospheric density through a t echnique of blended, interpenetrating layers is a product of a synthetic perspective on the natural world, where the visual field is composed not of objects and void, as in previous painting, but as a totality of matter. Sky and air have been rendered with a palpable texture, with a sense of their intermingled composition from moisture, air, and fiery ether. Since Lucretius teaches that matter and vacuity do not exist separately in the cosmos, but in an endlessly mobile and tumultuous mixture whose incidental product is meteorological and geological phenomena and the existence of living things, Giorgione's mode of rendering would have a special resonance for a beholder familiar with Epicurean cosmology. (63)

Standing apart to the left, the man, like the viewer, calmly surveys the entire spectacle in its totality: the gathering clouds, the bolt of lightning which renders the city walls below incandescent, perhaps also the mother and child. Both he and she see the storm for what it is, not as a portent or as the raging of a deity, but as the indifferent motion of the elements. The broken columns behind the male figure have been read by Edgar Wind as a symbol of fortitude. (64) Yet given that these columns are part of a complex of architectural fragments, they can be seen more pointedly in terms of Lucretius' argument against the plausibility of stormy theophanies. Lightning, Lucretius writes, frequently strikes at the temples of god; are we supposed to believe that god would strike at his own dwelling? Or does the fact that lightning strikes all man-made structures without discrimination not rather prove the absurdity of divine intervention? (65) The fail of buildings also proves the instability of all things in n ature, the predisposition of matter to always assume new forms. (66) "Again, do you not see that even stones are conquered by time, that tall turrets fall and rocks crumble, that the gods' temples and their images wear out and crack, nor can their holy divinity carry forward the boundaries of fate or strive against nature's laws? Again, do we not see the monuments of men fall to pieces?" (5:306-10)

The Epicurean philosopher in Lucretius' poem is characterized throughout as a wayfarer; this includes both Epicurus and the poet, his disciple. Lucretius introduces the theme of the wanderer in his first book (1:62-79), where he presents an apotheosis of Epicurus:

When man's life lay for all to see groveling foully, crushed beneath the weight of Superstition (religione) which displayed her head from the regions of heaven, lowering over mortals with horrible aspect, a man of Greece was first that dared to uplift mortal eyes against her, the first to make stand against her; for neither fables of the gods could quell him, nor the lightning flash (fidmina), nor heaven with menacing roar. But all the more they goaded the eager courage of his soul, so that he should desire, first of all men, to shatter the confining bars of nature's gates. Therefore the lively power of his mind prevailed, and forth he marched far beyond the flaming walls of the world, as he traversed the immeasurable universe in thought and imagination; whence victorious he returns bearing his prize, the knowledge of what can come into being, what can not, in a word, how each thing has its powers limited and its deep-set boundary mark. Therefore Superstition is now in her turn cast down and trampled underfoo t, whilst we by the victory are exalted high as heaven. (7)

The wanderer figure, whose clothing bears the signs of urban sophistication, has embarked on a literal "marching beyond the walls" (the incandescent lightning-illuminated walls may even manifest an allusion to the flammantia moenia mundi by which Lucretius designates the terrestrial realm). He could perhaps be identified with the pioneering Greek philosopher, whose contemplation of natural phenomena and the condition of man is presented by Lucrerius as a heroic quest; or, more probably, he could be a contemporary "Epicurean" who has left the city to pursue truth at the point where civilization gives place to nature. Clearly, he does not wear the dress of a philosopher (although the youngest of the Vienna Three Philosophers, who wears a white shirt with gold embroideries, is also unusual in this respect). Yet his identity could perhaps be conveyed through evoking a long-standing stereotype of the "Epicurean." Giorgione has given him the parri-colored hose of an aristocratic Venetian youth, who with many member s of his class participated in one of twenty-three festive companies known as the compagnie della caiza: fraternities of the stocking. These brotherhoods were prominent and familiar in Venetian life by the 1500s, and had also recently included the young princes Francesco Gonzaga of Mantua and Alfonso d'Este of Ferrara among their members. (67) The compagnie, devoted to little beyond the pleasure of their members, had a distinctly libertine cast; the Senate would occasionally intervene to curtail their banquets "so sumptuous as to cause scandal to God and the world," which were sometimes frequented by courtesans. The diarist Mann Sanudo reported that in 1508 their customary theatrical performances were banned; a later renewal of the prohibition described such performances as "incentives to lasciviousness and a detestable corruption of worthy habits." (68) We are not far away here from a classic stereotype of the followers of Epicurus as devotees of sensual pleasure, one from which contemporary readers of Lucre tius sometimes took pains to distance themselves, yet also a characterization which had been embraced affirmatively by a speaker in Lorenzo Valla's De voluptate (1431). In 1468 the humanist sodality around Pomponio Leto, another group given to feasting and theatrical performance, were similarly accused of being "Epicureans," on the grounds of moral license as well as alleged philosophical materialism. (69)

But Giorgione's youth is far from his habitual milieu, prompting reflection on what it might mean for a member of one of the compagnie to be shown outside the city, bearing the staff of a pilgrim or a wanderer. The link between the identity of urban libertine and that of a more ascetic "seeker" in the realm of natura is a philosophical attitude grounded in the reality of sensation, which seeks to investigate the dynamics of natural phenomena and physical existence. The wanderer now contemplates the realm of natura, having already experienced its human and social aspect.

Pontano, in his collection of erotic verse, had compared himself to the wayfaring Epicurean seeker after knowledge of the nature of things, contrasting this with his identity as a love poet in Parthenopeus VI, where he had "dared not to touch the virgin springs, or to undertake the difficult path of the high mountain, where Lucretius reclining at the Muse's cave joins in the worthy song with supporting voice." (70) So, too, Lucretius had proclaimed himself to be a wayfaring disciple, walking in the footsteps of Epicurus in order to encounter remote or unfrequented places: "you I follow, O glory of the Grecian race, and now on the marks you have left I plant my own footsteps firm, not so much desiring to be your rival as for love, because I yearn to imitate you" (3.3-6). And Lucretius also claims the status of a pioneer in that his poetic materia is unprecedented in the work of any other poet: "the high hope of renown has struck my mind sharply with holy wand, and at the same time has struck into my heart swe et love of the Muses, thrilled by which now in lively thought I traverse pathless tracts of the Pierides never trodden by any foot. I love to approach virgin springs, and there to drink" (1:926-50).

His uniqueness as a poet is again figured in evocations of the Helicon fountain, the wellspring of poetic originality and authority, in a recapitulation of this passage in book 4, 1-10. In the light of this Lucretian image of the fount of poetry as source of wisdom de return natura, the pool in the foreground of Giorgione's painting can be seen as a "real life" equivalent for the fountain of the Muses. Unlike the timeless fountain of myth, the Epicurean source is recognizably also a part of the world of the observer, and belongs the unidealized realm of natura. (71) The Tempest can thus be seen to depict the Epicurean poet contemplating his materia, that is, the matter and source from which he draws his inspiration. Aligned with the fountain is a landscape embodying the strife of the elements and a contemporary city of the terraferma, a spectacle encompassing "the nature of things" in their everyday, local manifestation. Some recent readings of the picture have deciphered certain background elements in terms of the precarious fortunes of Venice during the Wars of the League of Cambrai (1509-17): these occur in the faint, distant outlines of the carro, the stemma of the long extinct former rulers of Padua, still visible on the gates of subject cities such as Cittadella. (72) If this element of topicality exists, it has parallels with the literary enterprise. Lucretius' poem was written to provide consolation in a time of civil warfare--hence the famous opening, where Venus Genetrix is invoked to disarm her lover Mars. Pontano in his poem Urania digressed from his mythopoeric exposition of planetary motions and influence to portray in vivid terms Italy's distress during the War of Ferrara of 1482-84. (73) Just as Pontano incorporated references to contemporary politics in his imitation of Lucretius, so Giambattista Pio in his 1511 commentary on the De rerum natura linked the account of the Epicurean cosmos to contemporary reality and recent history--the wars of Italy, the papal campaign against Bologna, earthquake s and plagues. Bartolomeo Scala incorporated a description of a plague in Florence, closely modeled on book 4 of De rerum natura, in his own didactic poem De arboribus (ca. 1494-97). (74) All of these are historical contingencies which produce anxiety and distress, the perturbatio which the philosophical poet seeks to assuage by pointing to their causes: "Pleasant it is, when on the great sea the winds trouble the waters, to gaze from shore upon another's great tribulation: not because any man's troubles are a delectable joy, but because to perceive what ills you are free from yourself is pleasant" (2:1-4).


The naked woman and child are exposed to the impending fury of the storm in the fullest possible sense. It is this circumstance which may have led Michiel to identify her as a gypsy, for, as recently demonstrated by Paul Holberton, gypsies could be described, in Pietro Bembo's words, as "primitives" who "wandered the world naked, shaggy and savage, in the manner of beasts, without a roof, without human intercourse, without any civilized custom."75 Such "primitives," however, could also be characterized as Epicureans. In the letter Mundus Novus written by Amerigo Vespucci to Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de'Medici and published in 1503, the native inhabitants of the New World are described in precisely these terms. "They live naked in the wild, they respect no principle of sexual continence, and have no temple and no religion, nor do they worship idols. What more can I say? They live according to nature, and might be called Epicureans rather than Stoics." (76)

Despite her exposed condition, the woman's gaze, which confronts that of the beholder, is a mask of detachment; her pose is based on a classical prototype (far from usual with Giorgione) and she has features in common with Venus Genetrix in the Hypnerotomachia (who is anything but "bestial"). Detachment is perhaps her principal divine attribute, a characteristic she shares with other Venetian "Venuses" by Titian and Giorgione, who appear equally human and material. Here again it is Lucretius who provides an Interpretative frame, not only in his ultimate demythologization of Venus but also in his famous descriptions of the predicament of "primitive humanity." Much of the interest in the primitive state of humanity which appeared in the late Quattrocento was itself owing to the influence of the De rerum natura, as is most famously manifest in the Stories of Primitive Man by Piero di Cosimo, who included exotic, gypsy-like figures in his Story of Vulcan. Both Piero, and Giorgione, and possibly also Bembo, were d rawing on the famous passage in book 5 of Lucretius, where the human race is described as living in the wild, foraging naked and sleeping on the ground like beasts, hiding their "squalida membra" in the underwoods when they had to shelter from the wind and the rain: "They dwelt in woodland precincts of the Nymphs, familiar to them in their wanderings, whence they knew that some running rivulet issued rippling over the wet rocks, rippling over the wet rocks in abundant flow and dripping upon the green moss" (5:948-52). In 1648, the pioneering historian of Venetian art Carlo Ridolfi identified an otherwise unknown painting of a half-length woman with a child and other figures as relating to Lucretius' passage on the helplessness of primitive humanity before the harshness of Nature--and he attributed the painting to Giorgione. Ridolfi is notoriously profligate in his Giorgione attributions, but the important point here is that a painting resembling a work by Giorgione could have been connected with the text of D e rerum natura (5:222-28): "In a painting of life-size half-length figures, (Giorgione) painted the symbol of human life. There appeared a woman in the guise of a nurse, holding a tender child in her arms, who hardly having felt the first rays of daylight was experiencing the miseries of human life, and was weeping. Alluding to this Lucretius sang in these verses of the newborn child: "the child, like a sailor cast forth by the cruel waves, lies naked upon the ground, speechless, in need of every kind of vital support, as soon as nature has spilt him forth with throes from his mother's womb into the regions of light, and he fills all around with doleful wailings--as is but just, seeing that so much trouble awaits him in life to pass through." (77)

In this natural state of humanity described by Lucretius in book 5, it was Venus Genetrix who held sway: "And Venus joined the bodies of lovers in the woods; for either the woman was attracted by mutual desire, or caught by the man's violent force and vehement lust" (5:963-65). For Lucrerius, Venus is finally characterized in terms of human nature itself. His view of Venus Genetrix accords her no necessary existence beyond her manifestation in the reproductive functions of living creatures. Although beginning his poem with the famous sublime invocation of Venus, the goddess subsequently appears in the poem in her distinctively everyday and non-divine manifestations, in the plural form of "Veneres nostras" (4:1185). "This, then, is our Venus" he writes (4:1058), having explained the power of sight and of the appearance (simulacrum) in the arousal of sexual desire. Some Renaissance commentators noted the inconsistency of invoking the goddess in a poem denying divine agency. (78) Perhaps in order to preserve th e mythological hermeneutic of Lucretius' poem, which precludes the literal appearance and activity of the gods, Giorgione presents her in the unmetaphysical form in which the forces she designates are most fully materialized--in a figure which suggests the dynamic of human attraction, desire, and generation, as well as alluding to humanity in its natural state. In other words, she is not Venus, but a mortal body in which a certain natural property of living things--the ability to arouse desire, to generate and to nurture, a property to which poets and superstitious people had given the name "Venus"--has manifested itself.

Giorgione has made every effort to humanize, even de-mythologize the figure of the divina genitrice as she had appeared in the Hypnerotomachia, removing her from her shrine and trappings of divinity, accentuating her nudity, and placing her upon the earth like a Madonna of Humility. (79) The earthly female body as a "material" reduction of an allegorical personification is also strikingly evoked in a dismissal of Lucretius by an early Christian writer of considerable authority, and a major source of information about the Epicureans. This was Lactantius (ca. 250-ca. 326), one of the earliest authors printed in Italy, and whose writings appeared in at least nine Venetian editions between 1471 and 1515. According to Lacrantius, Lucretius conceived Epicurus as stumbling upon Wisdom, incongruously embodied as a woman, "lying with feet extended toward the source." (80) Such equivocations are part of the language of the picture, and at the root of its perception as both allegory and genre painting. Once again, howev er, in the Tempest we see not Wisdom, but wisdom, as it were, incarnate, in a singularly undivine manifestation.

In his tolerant comprehension and contemplation of the instinctual side of human nature denoted by Venus, and her central place in "the nature of things" in general, the Epicurean philosopher attains a posture of sober detachment. So too, perhaps, could Gabriel Vendramin, whose lifelong celibacy may reflect a philosophical attitude conditioned by Stoicism and Epicureanism; we might recall here his ownership of a Giorgione entitled The Education of Marcus Aurelius, which can be seen now as a kind of Stoic pendant to the Epicurean Tempest.

It is Venice above all, the center of the publishing world, that provides the most vital indications of Lucretian and Epicurean studies in the first decade of the sixteenth century. The 1495 Venice edition was followed by another in 1500, edited by Hieronymus Avantius for the Aldine Press; the Opera of Pontano appeared in 1505, and in 1511 the humanist Giambartista Pio followed with his own edition in Bologna. (81) A further Aldine edition followed in 1515. The poem enjoyed a fairly wide reception within and beyond humanist circles in northern Italy: for instance, the marchese of Mantua, Francesco Gonzaga, though often thought of as a man of action with little time for intellectual pursuits, sought out a copy of Lucretius in Florence, with emendations by Michele Marullo, in 1500.82 The reception of the poem was facilitated by the availability of a more balanced account of Epicureanism, Diogenes Laertius' Lives of the Philosophers, which had appeared in several vernacular versions by 1499. (83)

The early Cinquecento editions of Lucretius provide further indications of a shift in attitude to Lucretius and his philosophical poetry which afford a perspective on the Tempest. Aldus added an apology to his first edition which departs from the early Quattrocento's prejudices against Lucretius in the neutrality of its position: Lucretius might be read, he wrote, "not because what he might have written is true or to be believed by us--since he dissents gready from the academics and peripatetics, not to mention our theologians--but because he committed the Epicurean dogma to verse with great learning and elegance." (84) Pio's approach is much less apologetic, and directly addresses the conspiracy of silence and Ciceronian slander which had grossly misrepresented Lucretius and the doctrines of Epicurus. In the course of his commentary, Pio takes up the cudgel against the Stoic enemies of Epicureanism "by whose authority Cicero often rails at and insults Epicurus as a voluptuary enslaved by the love of women. B ecause if Cicero had looked upon that pleasure beloved of Epicurus with eyes and mind not blinded by envy he would have changed his mind about it. Indeed he would have discovered that state (of pleasure) to be a peace and tranquillity of the mind whose nourishment was the investigation of nature's secrets, from the contemplation of which comes that pleasure which is pronounced to be over all pleasures." (85)

Beyond Aldus and Pio, several other humanists featured positive characterizations of Epicurean voluptas in their works. (86) Given the dimension of Venetian politics in the early sixteenth century, there was something particularly arresting about the poem's confrontational stance, the poet's claim to strip away illusions, his grasp on the psychology of human fear and its manipulation by organized religion. All of this made it especially attractive to humanists who were politically or spiritually opposed to the authoritarian and worldly papacies of Alexander VI and his successors, and would have had special resonance in Venice in the era of the wars of Cambrai (1509-17). The famous assault of Lucretius on religio and superstition was appropriated by Pontano in the Urania (1.679 ff.) yet now reconciled with a posture of Christian orthodoxy. (87) Subsequently the Lucretian attack on religio was taken up by the Ferrarese Celio Calcagnini around 1512, during his own native city's struggle with the papacy. (88)

The Tempest, then, is a work which originates not just within a "learned" source, but within a broader social ideal of intellectual and personal cultivation centered on the act of contemplation, whether of books or of things, and on the ideal of secluded study which humanists often chose to represent as an experience of voluptas. One way of giving voluptas a moral foundation was by turning to the sober version of Epicureanism found in the poetry of Lucretius, a text which was avidly studied by Pontano, Scala, Poliziano, Celio Calcagnini, Ermolao Barbaro, and Giambattista Pio--the leading lights of Italian humanism, in other words. Contemplative voluptas is the main thematic accent of the image, and also points to its original function: an image of contemplation to shape and direct the meditations of its owner. (89)

In the Epicurean sense as it was understood at the time, contemplation had been assigned a specific ethical value entailing detachment and the mastery of perturbation, and this might well have fitted the private self-cultivation of a learned Venetian man of affairs in the troubled decade of 1500-11. The attainment of serenity was at the core of discussions on the values of sacred and secular learning conducted by figures with whom Vendramin would have been acquainted--Paolo Giustiniani, Pietro Quirini, and Taddeo Contarini. Quirini and Giustiniani finally sought this desired tranquility in the spiritual exercises of the monastic profession, entering the Camaldolesi order in 1511. Among the humanistic pursuits Quirini left behind was his critical work on the text of Lucretius, acknowledged by Aldus in his edition of 1500. (90) Remarkably, however, even in holy orders the saintly Giustiniani would profess himself to be a follower of Epicurus. Voluptas, he wrote, was indeed the highest good, but it was to be ach ieved by the contemplation of God in everyday life. (91) This assimilation of voluptas and the summum bonum by a reformer of the church is perhaps the culminating point of the early Cinquecento reinvention of Epicurus in which the dissemination of Lucretius played such a vital role. This rehabilitation would be only partly successful, especially in the climate of intensifying anxiety about philosophical and theological orthodoxy during the religious crisis after 1517, when Lucretius' materialism and denial of the soul's immortality would make a philosophical engagement with his text increasingly difficult, at least in Italy. Already in 1516 the Synod of Florence had specifically condemned the reading of Lucretius on these very grounds . (92) It was perhaps such scruples which, within a short time, would place the readability of Giorgione's painting in oblivion.

* I would like to thank Jaynie Anderson, Shane Butler, and Ann Kuttner for their invaluable help with this project.

(1.) Lactantius, 3.14,197. Original text in Lactantius, cols. 0386c-0387a: Rectius itaque Lucretius, cum cum laudar, qul sapientiam primus invenit: sed hoc inepte, quod ab hornine inventam putavit. Quasi veto illam alicubi jacentern homo ille, quem laudabar, invenerit, tanquam tibias ad fontem, ut poetae aiunr. All subsequent translations are mine unless otherwise specified.

(2.) For the Tempest literature as case study of art history's unease with its own "harsh hermeneutics" which "set aside whatever is partial, veiled, superseded, and even incorrect in favor of the single answer," see Elkins, 227-48.

(3.) For Giorgione and the culture of collecting in the circle of Gabriel Vendramin and his acquaintances, see Anderson, 127-89; for recent work on Giorgione and literary culture in Venice and the Veneto, see (for example), the essays in La letteratura, la rappresentazione; also Rosand, Lettieri, Hochmann, and Nova.

(4.) For example, Sheard, and Anderson, 44-49.

(5.) "Genre" is to be understood here not in the highly codified sense in which it was applied to later academic painting, but as a historical tool which was employed to circumscribe areas of affinity within and between forms of cultural production. Determination of genre here will nonetheless draw upon Renaissance literary categories, imprecise, provisional, and disputed though these were. For genre as a device of "retrospective" historical criticism see Fowler, and Colie. For the implications of genre in Lucretius, see Conte, 1-34.

(6.) For the controversies see Garin, ed., 1958, especially 53-71; Trinkaus, 555-71; Robey, 7-25; on the state of the question around 1500 in Italy see Prete, 11-23 and F. Gilbert (I am grateful to Una Roman d'Elia for referring me to this article).

(7.) On the generally censorious or utilitarian attitudes to poetry among Venetian humanists see King, 157-61; see also Kallendorf, with discussion of Barbaro at 126-30. On Barbaro see also Campbell, 1997, 40, and Robey, 20-21.

(8.) On the Libellus ad Leonem X Pontificem Maximum and its authors see F. Gilbert, 983-90; on Giustiniani and Quirini see also Massa.

(9.) See the statement by Paolo Manuzio quoted below, and the text recently cited by Franco Bacehelli in which the Ferrarese Lelin Giraitli addresses his colleague Celio Calcagnini. Giraldi discusses the activity of contemplation, and whether this can be better facilitated by reading or by looking at pictures; he provocatively suggests that "The study of letters is not born from nature, but is the result of violence done to nature." Madness and error come "from an exaggerated practice of writing and reading, and an excessive turning over and over the pages of books." "letters, they tell us, help us to express the sensations and thoughts of the mind. Yet does not painting perhaps do this better? Men of letters themselves employ painringwhen they have to speak about something that is extremely difficult to remember, or something which literary description alone cannot adequately express. They do this, by their own admission, because painting and imagery imprint in themselves and in others the forms of things mo re clearly and more truthfully than letters do." Programnasma adversus litteras et tirteratos, quoted and translated in Bacehelli, 333.

(10.) The standard account is by Liebenwein; see also Thornton.

(11.) For documentation on the public career and collecting activity of Gabriel Vendramin, see Battilotti and Franco, 64-68. On Vendramin's collection see also Rava.

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

(13.) As argued in Campbell, 2000.

(14.) For the tension in elite consumer culture occasioned by anxiety about materialism, see Syson and Thornton, especially 23-36.

(15) See the discussion of Angelo Decembrio in Campbell, 1997, 22-23, and in Thornton, 101.

(16) Manuzio, 72r-v: Questi non sono beni materiali, che con semplice fatica si acquistino; non gemma, che per pezzo si ottenga: queste sono ricchezze virtuose, che a gl'idioti non roccano, ma solamente col giudicio, con l'ingegno, con infinita scienza in molto spatio di tempo si raccolgono. Queste del bello animo vostro, de'vostri nobilissimi pensieri a'futuri secoli chiara testimonianza daranno. See discussion of this passage in Thornton, 113-14, and in Schmitter, 23-24.

(17.) Manuzio, 72r: le quai cose con attento pensiero particolarmente riguardando, tante belle notizie in poche hore nella mente raccolsi, che ne Livio, ne Polibio, ne tutto le historie insieme havevano altrettanto in molti anni potuto insegnarmi. See discussion by Sebmitter, 23.

(18.) Translation from Chambers and Pullan, eds., 429. Original text in Battilotti and Franco, 67.

(19.) On Vendramin's intellectual milieu, see Ibid. and Settis, 142-59.

(20.) Serlio, 1540, 1.3.155, quoted in Battilotti and Franco, 66. In the previous year Gabriel, along with Jacopo Sansovino, had evaluated the paintings for an altar designed by Serlio in the church of the Madonna della Galliera in Bologna. See Anderson, 164, with bibliography.

(21.) On this painting see Anderson, 298, and Lucco, 11-29.

(22.) The references in Michiel's Notizia d'opere di disegno and the 1569 Vend ramin inventory are both cited in Settis, 55-56. The majority of art historians have considered such references to be far from adequate as an account of the picture's subject or of the social identity of the male and female figure; Holberton, 1991 and 1995, argues otherwise.

(23.) P Brown, 227.

(24.) As noted by B. L. Brown in a comment on the reception of German landscape modes in early Cinquecento Venice, in Renaissance Venice and the North, 338.

(25.) Adam and Eve is the subject identified by Settis; Jupiter and Danae by Parronchi, in La Nazione, 14 September 1976 (cited in Setris, 68) while the subject of Mars and Venus was revived with a hermetic cast in Cioci. For a recent astrological reading see Carroll.

(26.) For interpretations in terms of natural philosophy, see Tschmelitsch, 1966, and 1975, 240-65. For an inventive recent reprisal of the philosophical adage on discordia concors, see Sheard.

(27.) Sheard, 154-57.

(28.) See Howard, and Kaplan. For the astrological reformulation of this position see Carroll. For a criticism of the position which accepts Michiel's identification of the male figure as a soldier, see Hale, 416: "Whoever compiled the inventory of Gabriele Vendramin's 'Camerino delle antigaglie' in 1569 described the young man more understandably, if still not convincingly, as a shepherd. . explanations thar turn on the figure. or the moral or allegorical associations, of a soldier are mistaken."

(29.) On the relation to the Hypnerotamachia, see most recently Anderson, 165-72.

(30.) Most suggestive here are Lettieri, and Emison, 64-76.

(31.) See the observations by Anderson, 44-49.

(32.) Pino, 115, makes dear that when he departs from Alberti it is on technical and not on conceptual grounds: "E perche la pittura e propria poesia, cioe invenzione, la qual fa apparere quello che non e, pero util sarebbe osservare alcuni ordini eletti dagli altri poeti che scrivono, quale nelle loro comedic et altre composizioni vi introducono la brevita."

(33.) See C. Gilbert, 212-13, Wittkower, Hope. Emison, 66, Writes that "although the painting shares affinities with narrative, allegory and genre, it belongs instead to a new and less formalized kind of pictorial musing, closer than anything to low-style poetry--not any specific piece, but in genetal." The account in Sheard of the Tempesta as a poesia, "frugal in presentation, profligate in meaning," is in this sense exceptional; while arguing for the painting's autonomy and independence from "external texts," she concedes a capacity for nonliteral and allusive meaning which these other commentators would disallow.

(34.) The central problem in the account of Settis, 85, who derives his understanding of the work as Adam and Eve on the basis of a generic resemblance to a relief of this subject in Bergamo.

(35.) Hale, 518.

(36.) On the costume, identified as that of a member of a compagnia della calza, see Anderson, 165-68. On the costume of the compagnie see Venturi 1908a, especially 208-13.

(37.) From what can be understood about "gypsy iconography" in the sixteenth century, it seems that while lone and apparently homeless women with children might sometimes have been identified as gypsies, a more constant identifying feature was an exotic or extravagant quality, an appearance of "foreignness" in dress or demeanor. In 1475 the goldsmith Caradosso Foppa registered his trademark in Milan with the goldsmith's guild: "La zingola con lo puto inante che fa la morescha." Brown and Hickson, 16 (I am grateful to Luke Syson for this reference). It is my sense that the very anomaly of the appearance of the woman and child led to her assignment to a category which was conceived to accommodate a wide range of anomalous and marginal human beings. For more on gypsies see Holberton, 1995, although none of Holberton's iconographic examples (usually turbanned and heavily clad) bear any particular resemblance to Giorgione's figure. Anderson, 165, cites Boerio's 1856 Dizionario del dialetto veneziano where "to look like a cingana" merely means to have one's hair unkempt.

(38.) For an examination of the genre, see Goldfarb and Hale.

(39.) Kallendorf, 91-124.

(40.) Morelli, 51-52.; translation in Merchant Writers, 70-71; also cited in Liebenwein, 72.

(41.) On the philosophical import of poetic language in Landino and Pontano, see Grassi, 37-41, 57-61. For Poliziano on Homer see his Nutricia in Poliziano, 147, II. 476 ff. On the intellectually-embattled context of the Nutricia and Poliziano's view of poetry see Godman, 70-79. In his Actius Pontano discusses the poet's ability to charge nature with the quality of inspiring wonder, which nature in itself does not possess: "ut, cum poetica sicut historia conster rebus ac verbis, his utrisque poeta ad admirationem conciliandam non utasur modo, verum erlam mnirarur. Quamobrem, quod veritas praestare hoc sola minus posset, veritatem nune inumbrant ficris fabulosisque commenris, nunc ea comminiscunrur quae omnino abhorreant a vero atque a rerum natura." Pontano, 1943, 234-35. See also the discussion of Poliziano and Pontano with reference also to Joseph Scaliger's Poetics in Galand-Hallyn, 189-223.

(42.) Raimondi, 656-57.

(43.) For various aspects of the polemic see Grassr, and Gaisser, and A. Brown, (on Scala's De arboribus).

(44.) In Aegidius Pontano writes "Poetae officium, ni fallor, tribus in his praecipue vertitur: ut doceat, ut delectet, ut maveat . . . Virgilius igitur ac Lucretius, quo auditorem ad se raperent, ab ipso statim initio usi sunt principiis maxime iucundis ac festivis; neve satietas, quae inter narrandum docendumquc inlet obrepere, in discessu auditorem comitaretur, exitus quoque librorum maiore etiam festivitate condivere lusibusque refersere iucundioribus." In Actius, he praises Lucretius along with the writers of "rerum naturam generi hominum carmine": "Christe optime, quid copiae, quid ornatus, quantus e clarissimis luminibus eius emicat in altero splendor! Rapit quo vult lectorem, probat ad quad intendit, summa cum subtiltate et artificio, hortatur, deterret, incitat, retrahir, demum omnia cum magnitudine, ubi opus est atque decoro, et hac de qua disputatum est admiratione." See Pontano, 1943, 263, 238. See also Grassi, 37-41.

(45.) Tunc ego Castalias (vivam modo) pronus ad undas / perfundam sancto labra liquore senex / quattuor et referam digesta elementa figuris, / primum ignis. Post hunc aeris esse locum, / terra sit ut media mundi regione locata / nixa suis opibus, pondere tuta suo, / intervalla tenens disrantia partibus aeque / bruta quidem et solido sorte recepta loco, / quem pater Oceanus spumantibus abluit undis / amplectans media dissociatque freto; / sint duo praeterea, quorum sublimis ab arcto, / imus ab apposito dicitur axe polus; / hos circum immensi volvatur machina mundi / nec tamen impositum sentiat axis onus; / denique gignendis quaenam sint semina rebus, / unde suos ortus edira quaeque trahant; / unde pavor cervis, rabies atque ira leonum, / raucaque cur cornix, et bene canter olor; / quid calidi fonts imbri, quid noctibus Amman / ferveat et media frigeat usque die; / quem dederit rebus finem natura creandis; / Centauri numquid Scylla vel esse queant; / cur non Luna sun, sed fratris luceat igni; / quid vehar et Pr ocyon, quid vehar arms Equi. / Felices animae fatis melioribus usae, / cura quibus primis talia noise fuit; / non illis studium gemmae, non dira cupido / divitis aut auri perniciosa sitis, / sed superum casto rimabant pectore templum: / quis superis nunc est vita beata locis. Pontano, 1948, 72-73.

(46.) Est deus est trinum semper laudabile numen, / unde trahunt rerum semina primagenus / Spirituum soboles caelique decemplicis astra, / astrorumque vices multiplicesque viae/ Sunt animae divum nitido quos aethere virtus / donat et hos sanctos indigetesque vocant / et quae materiam praebent elementa caducis / Rebus & aeternae dant alimenta neci. .... Sunt ea quae profert aer, quae parturit aequor / Quae generat pingui daedala terra sinu / Multicolor facies agri silvaeque comantes / Multisonae volucres multivagaeque ferae / Sunt sophiae partes est ingeniosa mathesis / verbaque clamosi litigiosa fori / Sunt hominum vitae; sunt digna negocia versu / plurima gesta foris, plurima gesta domi. Baptista Mantuanus, 117-20, 131-38. On the poem see Gaisser, 230, who situates Mantuanus' demand within controversies on the imitation of licentious ancient poets such as Catullus.

(47.) Compare Lucretius 1.7: "tibi suavis daedala tellus."

(48.) See Goddard, 1991, 251, and Reeve.

(49.) The Pastoral Concert in the Louvre features a program which is entirely consistent with that of the more critically self-conscious poets of the time. The painting employs the top os of the Source or fountainhead of poetry, the wellspring of ancient poetic wisdom tended by nymphs who personify Poesia and Persuasion. Returning to the wellspring of ancient eloquence, the modern poet -- the lute player in contemporary costume -- engages in a harmonious dialogue with the Arcadian shepherd poet, a confrontation which epitomizes the vital confluence of ancient tradition with modern practice. See Egan, and Klein.

(50.) On the circulation of Lucretius in Italy see Reeve, 27-48. On the humanist reception of Lucretius and the inreresr in Epicureanism, see Garin, 1959; Pagnoni, and Kraye, 374-86. See also Hadzsits, 269, for an account of the editions of Lucrerius after the editio princeps of 1473.

(51.) Allen, 114, notes Ficino's change of position on Lucretius, from admiration before 1474 (De voluptate; In Philebum; Theologia Platonica) to condemnation thereafter, as an insane melancholic and as a suicide (as well as a materialist).

(52.) On Lucretius, poetic invention, and mythological painting in Florence, see Dempsey, 32-52.

(53.) The Lucretian term simulacro appears in the optical writings of Leonardo, to signify a transmitted likeness, and may also thus be seen operating in his practice of rendering color and shadow in transparent films. Like Lucretius, he also uses the term to designate both the image of a desired and powerful object (a divinity or the beloved). See Farago, 180, 188.

(54.) Pio, 167r: grafica et picturata ur omnibus eloquentiae pigmentis veris descriptio, in qua ex professo Lucretius excelluit.

(55.) Lettieri, 57.

(56.) For the interpretation in terms of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (recently revived by Anderson, 165-72) see Stefanini, 1955.

(57.) For Nature personified in Lucretius, see 2:1090; 3:931; on nature as "omniparens," 5:258, 821, 795; "primum natura creatrix," 5:1362; on "Tellus mater," 2:1150; that the earth merits the "maternum nomen," 5:821.

(58.) Lucretius, 1982, 472. I have modified the translation of W. H. D. Rouse to render fulminis as "lightning blast," which makes more sense given the subsequent reference to thunder.

(59.) Ibid., 1982, 6:48-53 translation, 497.

(60.) Ibid., 6:84-91 translation, 499.

(61.) For instance by Ferriguto, 109f. and by Tschmelitsch 1966 and 1975. Neither note that the same notion of the harmonic strife of the elements opens Pio's commentary on Lucretius; as a result, their adherence to the philosophical lingua franca of Aristotelian physics or the cliches of Neoplatonism fails to produce a convincingly precise and synthetic account of the image.

(62.) Lucrerius, 6:375-79; translation, 521.

(63.) Ibid., 4:54-90; 722-77.

(64.) Wind, 26-27, uniquely invoked the name of Lucretius with regard to Giorgione's painting, only to quickly dispose of it. He rejected at the outset the possibility that the painting was related to "a Lucretian concept of dynamic myth," assuming that this is what Ferriguto's Aristotelian reading was heading toward. Yet later in his text he appears drawn momentarily to the Lucretian connection, which he briefly imagines shorn of its scholastic component: "If this were the moral of the Tempesta (i.e. Ferriguto's tempesta serena, in which the raw forces of nature are mastered by man), it would hardly be necessary in this instance to invoke the Aristotelianism of Ermolao Barbaro, since any Plaronist or Stoic, or even any follower of Lucretius, might have said the same." Wind thus saw the painting as a moral allegory, regarding this as more consonant with the "unencumbered style" of the picture.

(65.) Lucretius, 1982: "Postremo cur sancta deum delubra suasque / discutit infesto praeclares fulmine sedes, / et bene facta deum frangit simulacra suisque / demit imaginibus violento volnere honorem?"

(66.) A point made by Ferriguto, 118-19.

(67.) Two similarly-attired young men appear as singers in Titian's Battle of the Andrians (Madrid, Prado), painted for Alfonso d'Este around 1525. On the compagnie della caiza, see Venturi, 1908a and 1908b.

(68.) Venturi, 1908a, 219, cites the 1460 Senatorial condemnation of"cenas et pastus, adeo sumptuosos, quod est quaedam abhominatio deo et mondo." For Sanudo on the prohibition of comedies "incentivo di lascivia et detestabile corruttela delli boni costumi" see Venturi, 1908a, 220. Sanudo wrote in 1530 about the Council of Ten's renewal of ordinances first proclaimed in 1508.

(69.) Garin, 1959, 222.

(70.) Pontano, 1948, 71: Nam mihi iam pridem tenues agitantur amores, I Attritamque sequor vatibus ipse viam I Intactos ausus necdum contingere fontes / Arduus et summa carpere montis iter I Hic, ubi Pierio recubans Lucretius antro I Concinuit latio carmina digna sono I Ac rarum siculus foecundo pectore vates I Rerum naturac condidit auctor opus.

(71.) These passages in the poem may also help make sense, if this were necessary, of the concealed vestiges of an original version where the wayfarer figure does not appear, and in his place is a second female figure seated by the edge of the pool. Although this change of mind has often been taken as evidence of the "improvisational" character of Giorgione's work in general, and (even more illogically), as an argument against interpretation of any kind, it could simply be said that the figure of Natura was moved from the left to the right hand side, or that the canvas originally presented an entirely different subject. Yet even if it could be proved that the original version omitted the male figure, it is almost inevitable that an image of nude female figures by a pool would have evoked the ropos of water nymphs and Muses, especially for a beholder familiar with images such as the Pastoral Concert. But the caution of Sheard, 148, must be born in mind: "Pentimenti, or spontaneous changes during the painting p rocess, have never implied the lack of a predetermined subject."

(72.) See Howard, Kaplan.

(73.) The lengthy account comprises most of the section in book 5: "On the lands subject to Leo and the Sun." See Ponrano, 1513, 96r-97r.

(74.) The reportage of recent events so engaged Pio that he indulged its occasional irrelevance to the poem: "Si datur occaslo, etiam Si fl0fl datur, in patriam nostrae memoriam nobis divertare dulce est." Pio, 1511, fol. cvv. This passage follows a long and bitter excursus on the papal annexation of Bologna; for an account of local earthquakes see his comments in book 5, fol. clxxir. For Scala's De arboribus, see Scala, 426-45, with the plague described at 2:229-45, 296-303.

(75.) Bembo, Asolani, quoted in Holberton, 1995, 391.

(76.) Vespucci, 49-50.

(77.) Ridolfi, "Vita di Giorgione da Castel Franco" in Le Maraviglie dell'arte, 1648; entire text in Anderson, 370-73, with the quoted passage on 371-72: In quadro di mezze figure quanto il naturale, fece il simbolo dell'humana vita. Ivi appariva una donna in guisa di Nutrice, che reneva tra le braccia tenero bambino, che pena apriva i lumi alla diurna luce provando le miserie della vita direrramenre piangeva: alludendo quello canto Lucretio dell'huomo nascente in questi versi. Lucreti. Lib. 5. Turn porro puer, ut saevis proiectus ab undis." The painting also included an armed man of robust aspect, to indicate the hot-bloodedness of youth, as well as a boy disputing with philosophers (perhaps an echo of The Education of Marcus Aurelius?), an old woman, and a naked old man meditating upon a skull. He adds that the painting was believed to be in the Cassinelli collection at Genoa.

(78.) See Pio, fol. ir. and the commentary of Dionysus Lambinus, in Lucretius, 1565, 7.

(79.) Emison, 71, aptly remarks that "[Giorgione] used nudity to exclude the parallel with Madonna and Child and used clothing to avoid mythological reference."

(80.) See the epigraph to this article.

(81.) On Pio see Raimondi.

(82.) Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de'Medici sent Francesco Gonzaga in 1501 a "Plinjo studiato dal Poliziano," but stared that he could not find Poliziano's Lueretius; therefore he was sending the version "emendaro da Marullo, il quale dalli docti homini comendaro." See Luzio and Renier, 15.

(83.) See Pagnoni, 1459-60.

(84.) non quod vera scripserit et credenda nobis,--nam ab academicis eriam er peripateticis, nedum a rheologis nostris multum dissentit--sed quia epicutae sectae dogmara eleganrer er docris mandavir carminibus. Quoted in Dionisotti, 56.

(85.) Pio, preface: quorum auctoritatem sequtus Cicero saepicule vellicat et sugillat Epicurum tanquam voluptarium et mulierum amoribus ancillantem. Quod si Cicero mentis oculos non invidiae collimasset atque direxisset ad amasiam Epicuri voluptatem, libenter ad illam divertisset. Comperisset enim eam statum esse animi sedatum atque tranquillum, cuius pabulum erat scrutatio secretorum narurae ex cuius contemplatione voluptas orirur omnem voluptatem excedens.

(86.) Among them Filippo Beroaldo of Bologna, and Giovanni Torrelli in his Orthographia, published in Venice in 1501: "dicebat voluptatem esse finem, non ... luxuriosorum volupratem, nec eam quae in gustu est, ut quidam male intellexere, sed earn quae est non dolere, animoque tranquillam esse, et perturbatione vacare." Quoted in Garin, 1959, 228.

(87.) As is argued by Goddard, 1991.

(88.) "It is vain superstition to keep invoking the powerful divinities: let not even the thunderbolts that fly through the air deceive you!....Behold the Roman priests, who indeed acknowledge that there is a god who possesses the highest power over men and heaven....As they tell it, he created the heavens, the earth, and the stats; they imagine that he had. not material or physical substance, but that his power alone, which was supreme, made it: nothing more foolish than that has ever been heard." From the silva "Coelii secta," quoted and translated in Bacchelli, 342, who does not note the allusion to Lucretius.

(89.) Without adducing the Epicurean dimension, which would have enabled a more convincing link between tranquility of mind and meditation upon nature, Settis concluded his study of Giorgione with indications of the centrality of the contemplative impulse in Venetian intellectual impulse in the early Cinquecento. See Settis, 128 ff.

(90.) F. Gilbert, 983.

(91.) Massa, 32: "il Giustiniani si scosta dalla intrepretazione edonistica negariva, che Marco Tullio fa risalire agli stoici, per riconoscere un Epicuro spiriruale in Cogitationes quotidiane LXI, 1: Si voluptas, que animo percipitur, summum et extremum est hominis... bonum." See also Pagnoni, 1474-77.

(92.) F. Gilbert, 978.


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Author:Campbell, Stephen J.
Publication:Renaissance Quarterly
Geographic Code:4EUIT
Date:Jun 22, 2003
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