Renaissance Through 1855

Ross Kilpatrick’s “Hagar and the Angel in Giorgione’s Tempest”

There have been many interpretations of the famous Giorgione’s painting “Tempest”, which has presented its viewers with a perennial riddle, with several interpretations that it brings to their minds upon seeing it. In 1978 Salvator Settis produced twenty nine interpretations of it, including his own. These were Marcantonio Michiel’s, Allegorical, Narrative and Historical. Settis’s own interpretation included Adam, Eve and Cain, where he places them at the time of their expulsion from Eden. According to him, in the painting, Eve is nursing the child, Cain, and Adam is looking at them standing aside. As much as his interpretation is on solid grounds, it poses a problematic note. The article also includes sources from Genesis, highlighting Hagar in Egypt. Hagar’s journey home from Sarai is pointed out. According to the article, Giorgione may have captured the moment whereby Hagar was suckling Ishmael amidst an abandoned road leading to Shur. Also, there exists an angel watching over them, who is shown as a soldier in the painting. This is justified through the fact that Renaissance art displayed angels as soldiers without wings. The bolt of lightening shown in the painting is argued to be the power of the God or his revelation and his shadow over the Hagar and her child under her nursing. Likewise, the article lists down many different points of view of many different scholars. There are also various Greek myths reflected in the painting as pointed out by historians, such as the Hermes (Kilpatrick).

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Jan Greenstein’s “Leonardo, Mona Lisa, La Gioconda: Reviewing the Evidence”

Mona Lisa La Gioconda was reported to have been painted by Giorgio Vesari in 1545-1547. The painting is highly suspected of having been copied from the original Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci. Martin Kemp, Janice Shell and Grazioso Sironi have presented their opinions about the painting, which mostly disapprove of it as being an original piece. Shell and Sironi’s arguments against it are most accepted. Despite of the fact that there exists the title of La Gioconda on the inventory of Salai, and also that it was used in Fontainebleau later, it is still not accepted as being an original portrait of Mona Lisa. The claim of Vasari over it is just not convincing for the scholars, such is suggested by recent studies. The critics of the painting who had previously used the title prior to 1642 had not considered the fact that it had reference with the surname of the sitter in the painting. The article suggests that when the evidence is dealt with it does not favor so well Vasari and his credibility is seriously doubted. But such review also illuminates the reason behind Leonardo’s famous painting of Mona Lisa (Greenstein).

Critical Analysis

The article by Ross Kilpatrick puts forward many interpretations that makes us wonder ourselves too upon the mystery that the painting emphasis upon. It presents clear understanding of the forms and symbols that can be used to interpret the painting and the many interpretations that have been used for it enable us to better critically look to it. The article suggests how well the picture is drawn by Giorgione where he puts human life in such an intrinsic and colorful form filled with richness and poise, emotion and religion, and the integration of human with the nature which continues to astound us with its beauty, as we search for the most basic interpretation for it as it were present in the painter’s eyes.

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Reading the article one point gets very clear for us and that is that the painting “The Tempest” is famous and has caught the attention of its viewers throughout centuries because of the unique mystery is presents. Therein the many interpretations put forward by the many scholars, lies controversy in trying to confirm the form of the characters residing on it. None of the points of view have so far completely been able to justify all the specifications in the painting, if one theory clearly explains some aspects, therein lay others which continue to raise arguments. The painting is yet to discover an interpretation that provides the clear identification that it longs to have. Why is that so? The painting is very detailed, a fact which is not apparent but the researchers have discovered so. The depth of the painting is puzzling, with its color, which is elaborately delivered, the lighting that depicts a town, an environment that shows that a storm is approaching and an axial position. But the researchers are still not sure if whether what they have captured from the painting is correct or not. Another important feature of the painting that the article takes a strong notice of is the position of the eyes of the characters in the painting. The men in the painting seem to be looking at far off distant sceneries whereas the young woman who is watching over the child seems to be gazing at the viewers of the painting. The eyes of the two people do not meet. A puzzling notation regarding their sight is that if they do not acknowledge each other’s existence then why are they present together in the painting? Other than that there is another character on the left of the painting, the reason of whose existence in the scene set in the painting is the most confusing for the researchers. When noted carefully after scrutiny a tiny town resides on the top of a large building standing still firmly. The building carries a calm bird with white feathers. This sight represents a laid back, calm and humble attitude which shows relaxation and contempt for the approaching storm. This draws further complications in the formulation of significant implications of the painting. These are just a few of the problems that have aroused confusion in the minds of the researchers who still long to find an answer to the mystery that this painting has presented for centuries.

The article captures the many interpretations and presents arguments against each. Foremost, it says that “The Tempest” for the common eye is full of mystery and confusion. It is unpredictable. For Giorgione himself, it can be said that, it is blurry and vague, who tried to present it in an imaginative and religious way, which turned into a mystery and art in an unusual fashion. Giorgione also had the way of not leaving his signature on his work which added even further to the complications for the historians to identify his work. This however, reflects the fact that he was reluctant to show his point of view regarding his work.

Of the many interpretations presented in the article, in my point of view, I would say that the character of the woman and the child depicts Danae and Theseus. The setting is where Danae is to save the man Leonard Danae-Shepherd. While Danae breastfeeds the child before a storm, the shepherd stands on the side to guard them which displays his kinship. The lightning on the other hand shows the difficulties that Danae will be to face but right now she is calm.

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I do agree with the other interpretations in the article as well, which are mostly convincing. The article over all attempts to justify and explain the many interpretations of the paintings and how far others have gone to solve its mystery, but it remains unsolved nonetheless.

The article by Jan Greenstein I found to be more convincing with the arguments. The article very interestingly raises questions about the authenticity of the painting called Mona Lisa La Gioconda. Unfortunately, Lionardo Da Vinci himself did not leave us with enough evidence to have dealt with the dilemma posed by Visari later on with his painting. The evidence does not point us towards a definite sitter at the time of Leonardo, so it was difficult to argue over Visari in detail. The article does however come to us with some strong details that resolve the matter. First, La Gioconda was the title given to Visari’s version by Francesco del Giocondo in 1525. Secondly, it was painted by Leonardo on his own initiative to display what art can do.
Greenstein in his article has raised several convincing reasons for this. He says that if Leonardo was accustomed to paint this portrait then why didn’t he end up owning it? The article this is particular important because of two things: first, Leonardo was a worthwhile artist and he would not settle upon painting an ordinary man’s wife when he could get a nobleman’s wife for this painting; Second, why was the painting in Leonardo’s possession first when it was primarily a commissioned work? At that time patronage of the arts was important because it was used to create images of power and strength. So, considering this it was unlikely that Leonardo would have originated the piece of La Gioconda if it was not either for his own self worth or for a rich patron.


Both of the articles are based on solid grounds, with strong evidences to support the arguments presented. While Kilpatrick looks upon the mysterious Tempest, and finds various implications for it, Greenstein argues over the La Gioconda and proves its origins, which date back to Leonardo. With both articles being sound with arguments, I have to incline towards Greenstein as being more convincing for reasons justified earlier.

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