Museums and Art

"Three philosophers", Giorgione - description of the painting



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The three philosophers are Giorgione. 123 x 144 cm

A year before his tragic death from the plague, Giorgione painted a picture of Three Philosophers, which became the subject of philosophical and religious reflection and quest. It is known that the canvas was ordered from the author by the merchant Tadeo Contarini. The work was completed by another artist, a student of Giorgione, the Venetian Sebastiano del Piombo. All other information about the work is provided by detailed research and analysis.

We see three men of different ages - quite young, sitting on a stone; middle-aged who holds a hand on his belt and an elderly with a small scroll in his hand. There are several conceptual versions that personify these three philosophers:

  • three religions - Judaism, Islam and Christianity;
  • three stages of human life - fresh youth, energetic maturity and wise old age;
  • three European eras - Antiquity, Middle Ages, Renaissance;
  • combination of the above concepts.

The most logical interpretation seems to be when three philosophers are associated with a certain allegory of continuity: the old philosopher, perhaps Plato or Aristotle, as representatives of the ancient Greek culture, pass on their knowledge to a young man who represents the young Italian Renaissance, but do so through the Arab stage of civilization, which is represented by a middle-aged hero (possibly Ibn Rushda or Avicenna).

We can not say about the surrounding landscape of the picture, because it is always very important in the paintings of Giorgione. In the background, the outlines of the village are guessed, even further - a mountain, executed in an unexpected blue color. The near plan is also rich. Here you can see the rocky ledges under the feet of philosophers, bare tree trunks, special sunlight. All the action takes place against the backdrop of a black cave, preserving the unknown. It is known that Plato connected human consciousness with a dark cave. Like prisoners of a cave, people believe that they comprehend the world through the senses, while the essence of things is not revealed to them.

The masterful use of color makes the picture even more expressive and compositionally verified. It’s like we are moving our eyes along the route that Giorgione asked us 500 years ago: from the bright red, gold, white clothes of the heroes to the mysterious darkness of the cave and into the depths of the picture, where the mountain is intriguingly blue.

Theologians of old times interpreted the picture as a biblical plot - three magi came to the cave where Christ was born. Today's more secular mindset, coupled with careful research on the picture, make this theory untenable.


Watch the video: Portrait of a Man, Giorgione (May 2022).