Artibus et Historiae no. 74 (XXXVII)

2016, ISSN 0391-9064

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BRENDAN CASSIDY - Some ‘Giorgiones’ in Eighteenth-Century England (pp. 255–271)

Until the mid-nineteenth century Giorgione was largely an ahistorical figure, a construct of the imaginations and speculations of early writers such as Vasari and Ridolfi. Of the hundreds of paintings attributed to him between the seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries, very few were actually painted by him. This article considers three such paintings. All had been acquired by British collectors in Venice in the second half of the eighteenth century and brought to London for sale. Their owners, the Scots artist Gavin Hamilton, and the diplomats Sir James Wright and John Strange, thought highly of their acquisitions and priced them accordingly. But although the three paintings were painted by masters in the Veneto in the first half of the Cinquecento they are not by Giorgione. This article identifies the three paintings with works now in Jerusalem, Dublin and Philadelphia, charts their histories and considers them in the context of the eighteenth-century’s concept of Giorgione and in relation to other paintings attributed to Giorgione at the time.

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