Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

This painting is informed by the bucolic poetry of such classical sources as Virgil’s Georgics and Eclogues, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The subject of printed, painted, and drawn images, landscapes of shaded groves, musicians, shepherds, and languid nymphs were a quintessentially Venetian genre in the early sixteenth century. The most celebrated, and perhaps most enigmatic, of these is Giorgione’s Tempest, which shows the same configuration of a seated woman and a standing figure found here. The purpose, subject, and meaning of these evocative paintings is still unclear, leading some scholars to argue that they inaugurated a new genre of landscape painting, one based on secular rather than sacred sources.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Attributed to Titian (Tiziano Vecellio), Italian (Pieve di Cadore, Italy c. 1488 - 1576 Venice, Italy)
An Idyll: A Mother and a Halberdier in a Wooded Landscape
Work Type
c. 1505-1510
Creation Place: Europe, Italy, Veneto, Venice
Persistent Link
Level 2, Room 2540, European Art, 13th–16th century, The Renaissance
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Physical Descriptions
Oil on panel
45.9 x 44.2 cm (18 1/16 x 17 3/8 in.)
frame: 73 x 71.1 x 6.4 cm (28 3/4 x 28 x 2 1/2 in.)
Alexander Baring, 1st Lord Ashburton, by descent; to Louisa, Lady Ashburton, 1848, by descent; to Lord Spencer, Marquis of Northampton Compton, Compton Wynyates, Warwickshire, 1903; by descent; to Marquess of Northampton, sold [through Christie's, 1981]; to [Seiden & de Cuevas, Inc., New York, NY, 1981]. Purchase, Harvard Art Museums, 2007.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Kate, Maurice R. and Melvin Seiden Special Purchase Fund in honor of Konrad Oberhuber and Sydney Freedberg, Richard Norton Memorial Fund, and Richard Norton Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Bernard Berenson, The Study and Criticism of Italian Art, Bell (London, England, 1901), p. 137

Giorgione, A New Study of his Art as a Landscape Painter, William Martin Conway (London, 1929), pp. 18, 52-53, fig. 18

Bernard Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: a list of the principal artists and their works, with an index of places, The Clarendon Press (Oxford, England, 1932), p. 574

Duncan Phillips, The Leadership of Giorgione, American Federation of Arts (Washington, 1937), p. 139

Giuseppe Fiocco, Giorgione, Istituto Italiano d'Arti Grafiche (Bergamo, 1941), German edition, p. 34, fig. 79

Antonio Morassi, Giorgione, Ulrico Hoepli (Milan, Italy, 1942), p. 217

Pietro Zampetti, Giorgione e i giorgioneschi: catalogo della mostra, Venezia, 11 giugno-23 ottobre, Arte Veneta (Venice, 1955), pp. 60-61, no. 26

Luigi Coletti, Tutta la pittura di Giorgione, Rizzoli (Milano, 1955), p. 41, pl. 22

Bernard Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance; A List of the Principal Artists and their Works, with an Index of Places, Venetian School, Phaidon Press (London, 1957), vol. I, p. 86, vol. II, pl. 673

Edgar Wind, Giorgone's Tempesta with comments on Giorgione's Poetic Allegories, The Clarendon Press (Oxford, 1969), p. 3

Terisio Pignatti, Giorgione, Phaidon Press (London, 1971), no. A9, p. 119; repr. as pl. 202

Konrad Oberhuber and Hilliard T. Goldfarb, Disegni di Tiziano e della sua cerchia, exh. cat., Neri Pozza Editore (Venice, 1976), p. 54, under no. 4

Mauro Lucco, L'opera completa di Sebastiano del Piombo, Rizzoli (1980), no. 5

Hilliard T. Goldfarb, "An early masterpiece by Titian rediscovered, and its stylistic implications", The Burlington Magazine (July 1984), vol. CXXVI, no. 976, pp. 419-423, pp. 419-423, repr. as figs. 40 and 42

Robert Cafritz and Lawrence Gowing, Places of Delight: The Pastoral Landscape, exh. cat., The Philips Collection and Clarkson N. Potter Inc. (Washington, D.C. and New York, 1988), no. 16, repr. as fig. 28; p. 53; checklist p. 258

Mauro Lucco, ed., La Pittura nel Veneto. Il Quattrocento, Electa (Milan, Italy, 1989 - 1996), vol. I, repr. as fig. 25, p. 31

Salvatore Settis, Giorgione's "Tempest": Interpreting the Hidden Subject, University of Chicago Press (Chicago IL, 1990), pp. 66-67, repr. as fig. 22

Francesco Cioci, La "Tempesta" interpretate dieci anni dopo, Centro Di (Florence, 1991), repr. p. 30

Philip Rylands, Palma Vecchio, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England and New York, 1992), n. 49 under "conclusion"

Jaynie Anderson, Giorgione: The Painter of 'Poetic Brevity', Flammarion (Paris and New York, 1997), p. 334, repr.

Paul Joannides, Titian to 1518: The Assumption of Genius, Yale University Press (New Haven and London, 2001), pp. 78-82, repr. in color as pl. 66

Stephen J. Campbell, "Giorgione's 'Tempest,' Studiolo Culture, and the Renaissance Lucretius", Renaissance Quarterly (summer 2003), vol. LVI, no. 2, pp. 299-332, p. 307, repr. p. 310 as fig. 4

Museum Acquisitions 2007, Apollo, ed. Michael Hall (London, December 2007), p. 68

Peter Humfrey, Titian: The Complete Paintings, Ludion Press Ghent (New York, 2007), p. 32

"Seiden Gift Enables Fogg to Acquire Titian Painting", Building Our Future (Cambridge, MA, 2008), VIII, No. 1, Pg. 2, repr. in color

Stephan Wolohojian and Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, ed. Stephan Wolohojian, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, 2008), p. 72, repr.

Thomas W. Lentz, ed., Harvard University Art Museums Annual Report 2006-7, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, 2008), cover, p. 17, ill.

Matthias Steinhart, Im Wettstreit mit Apelles: Archäologische Bemerkungen zur Konzeption von Giorgiones Tempesta, Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften Münchden (Munich, 2015), pp. 12-15, repr. p. 14

Exhibition History

Art Treasures Centenary: European Old Masters, Manchester City Art Gallery, Manchester

Places of Delight: The Pastoral Landscape, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 11/06/1988 - 01/22/1989

Sacred and Profane Visions from Renaissance Venice, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/17/2001 - 07/23/2001

Re-View: S422-423 Western Art of the Middle Ages & Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/16/2008 - 06/18/2011

32Q: 2540 Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

Related Works

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