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Seated woman with baby faces standing man in front of landscape with buildings

In the close foreground, a light-skinned woman in a white-and-blue dress sits beneath a tree. She holds a light-skinned baby on her left side and looks up at a figure on the right, a light-skinned man in red clothes and silver armor. He holds an axe on a long staff and looks down and to the right. Behind the figures is a grassy hill with a complex of wooden buildings on it. More hills are in the distance. On the right is a silhouette resembling the structures on the central hill. On the left is a tall stone tower.

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.)


Recorded Ownership History
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

Verification Level

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