Raimondi’s engraving, a work considered to be the product of collaboration with Raphael as designer and known as the Allegory of the Double Trumpet, is an example of the tendency to misattribute Giorgione’s work. Probably because of its dimensions – a mere 117mm x 82mm – the print has received scant attention and no definitive interpretation has been proposed to explain the subject matter. Its size is very small considering the monumentality of the design; was a large painting ever made? Whatever the intended use, Raimondi’s print is the only evidence there exists today of this overlooked masterpiece.

Obvious comparisons can be made with the Three Philosophers and the Birth of Paris. Although the print is small the engraved figures are on a scale with those in the two large paintings and the similarities – the old man on the right of the print with the old philosopher on the right of the Three Philosophers; the naked youth on the right of the print with the fair youth on the right in the Birth of Paris – are compelling evidence of a far more likely connection with the art of Giorgione.

The subject of the Allegory is Plotinus’s Ennead V. Tractate 8. On the Intellectual Beauty. Giorgione’s design, employing the human form in a dynamic frieze that is itself a work of beauty, takes its imagery from the didactic text. Plotinus praises the artist as a creator who must overcome the resistance of material substance to forge his art by first intellectually grasping the world of forms. He argues that art is not three times removed from reality as Plato had stated, but by using craft and intellect the artist forges from crude matter a new object, no mere copy of the natural world but an actual improvement, adding where nature is lacking. He cites Pheidias’s famous statue of Zeus as an example of this very process.

The beauty of both nature and art derive from the realm of Intellect and likewise, music in the world of sense is derived from the music of the prior world. In proposing a method to enable the contemplation of this prior world – the realm of Intellect – Plotinus suggests imagining the visible universe as a unity to be seen within a transparent sphere: “Bring this vision before your sight… the gleaming representation of a sphere, a picture having everything in it, some things moving and others standing still”. But in the realm of Intellect higher knowledge is expressed in images rather than propositions and Plotinus mentions Egyptian sages with their hieroglyphics as an example of non–discursive thought…

“Every image is a kind of knowledge and wisdom and is a subject of statements, all together in one, and not discourse or deliberation”.

The idea that a painting can function on this non-discursive level is key to understanding Giorgione’s more enigmatic paintings and the Allegory is an example of this very approach. The Allegory reveals the refined philosophical interests of his circle, reminding us why he was admired for the ‘greatness of his mind’ and was ultimately called Big George … “dalle fattezze della persona e grandezza dell’animo chiamato poi col tempo Giorgione.” Vasari.



Oil on Canvas
150cm x 215cm

Venetian carved and part–gilt
walnut frame with a lotus–leaf
sight moulding and fluted infill,
scrolls and counterflow volutes at centers and subcenters with rosettes and patera.





© 2010 Zorzon 500
Dreams The rape or europa The soilder and the gypsy A visit to the underworld 'in the hands of a certain Pietro' Una Nocte T H E    W O L F    A N D   T H E   E A G L E