(b. 1490, Pieve di Cadore, d. 1576, Venezia)
The Concertc. 1510
Oil on canvas, 87 x 124 cm
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence
Cardinal Leopoldo bought this picture in 1654 as a Giorgione and for centuries it has been assigned to him. It was at the end of the nineteenth century that Morelli proposed the attribution to Titian, which, in spite of a recent return to giving it to Giorgione, is generally accepted as the more persuasive, naturally placing it in Titian's Giorgionesque period, that is to say his early years.
This painting has been considered a work by the young Titian only since it was last restored in 1976. The faces of the figures at the sides are badly damaged. Only the centre figure and the garment of the figure on the right display his masterful use of colour. Pictures of musicians were frequently painted in the 16th century. However, it was very rare for such an intimate relationship between the musicians to be depicted. The youth on the left draws the observer into the scene, thus including him in the web of glances and touches.
The conception and the pictorial rendering appear too full and expansive to allow one to think of Giorgione. Giorgione is considered as the inspirer of the picture, but here there is a greater force than is found in him and a style of painting which is in a certain sense broader. The episode represented (a mere excuse for the presentation of the three ages of man) might well be entitled "Musical Moment". While the elegant youth is absent and distracted, while the old monk seems as it were to placate us with his slow gesture and his intense look in which there is a pitiful sense of comprehension, the young monk in the centre in all his fullness of life "assumes to us the most sublime personification of music and of its bewildering emotions... The figures in the picture are three but such is the intensity of life in the monk who plays than the others seem far away from us - the weakened echoes of great warm voice of passion. (Adolfo Venturi)" The colour is warm and deep; it constructs, it illumines - the living expression of a security of modelling and design which is present and necessary but is subjugated to the poetry of colour.