Italian painting

"Madonna Castelfranco", Giorgione - description of the painting

  • Author: Giorgione
  • Museum: Cathedral, Castelfranco Veneto
  • Year: About 1504
  • Click image for larger version

Description of the picture:

Madonna Castelfranco - Giorgione. About 1504. Oil on canvas. 200 x 152 cm

The picture of the great master of the Renaissance "Madonna Castelfranco" owns several records. Firstly, this is the only work of the painter, written in the genre of altar paintings, and secondly, it is the largest work created in oil on wood. Finally, the most pleasant thing - "Madonna" is the only masterpiece where Giorgione's authorship is not questioned.
It is known that Giorgione painted a picture commissioned by Tucio Constancio. This condotier (head of the military detachment) dreamed of placing an altar icon in the Cathedral of Castelfranco-Veneto, in memory of his lost son. The coat of arms at the bottom of the pedestal, where the Virgin Mary sits with the Child, belongs to the Constancio family.
Looking at any picture, you always want to understand what is the peculiarity of this or that masterpiece. In the present work, the answer lies on the surface - here Giorgione completely departed from the canonical writing of the “holy interview” (as the plot is called, where the Madonna with Jesus is depicted in the circle of Saints). Although many researchers are inclined to believe that the author borrowed some details from the altars of his teacher Bellini.
Madonna is sitting high on a pedestal. At her feet are two heroes - Saint Francis and the valiant knight in armor. For a long time there were disputes who Giorgione depicted in the image of a knight. It has been suggested that this is St. Gregory, St. Liberale (patron of the church), but lately more and more scientists have been inclined to believe that St. Nikas is in front of us.
The landscape in this picture, though not dominant, but plays a very important role. Madonna's throne is on the same level as the landscape background, as if emphasizing the unity of the world of the "ideal" and the world of the "real". Everything here "breathes" harmony and beauty.
Prior to large-scale restoration work 2002-2003. in the Venice Academy, the appearance of the most famous painting by Giorgione left much to be desired. A lot of upgrades and inept restoration have changed the picture, so that in some research works you can find very unflattering reviews about the work. In 1972 another trouble happened to the picture - it was stolen straight from the cathedral, and returned only three weeks after the payment of the ransom, leaving it in an abandoned house.
Today, the legendary work of Giorgione looks great again (after skillful restorers worked on it) and is still there - in the Cathedral of Castelfranco, but already under a more reliable guard.

Other paintings by Giorgione

Madonna with the saints
Adoration of the Shepherds
Sleeping venus
Three philosophers
Old woman
Rural concert
Adoration of the Magi
Harlot before Christ

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