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Beating the Heat in 1510

Giorgione's Pastoral Concert

Giorgione's Pastoral Concert

The heat and humidity afflicting most of the United States has been a problem for other people in other places too. Pictured above is a scene painted by Giorgione in Italy around 1510. We don’t know how Giorgione came across this interesting quartet who had found such a simple way to keep cool on a hot day. In mid summer there’s nothing like the peace and quiet of the countryside, especially if there’s a well of cool water and a glass pitcher close by. So you bring along your guitar or lute, and a recorder or flute of some sort, and play a few tunes. And you  stay cool.

Or at least some do.  There’s no way of telling what those two women were wearing when they left home that morning, but clearly they’ve discarded a lot of clothing. There’s no better way to keep cool than by slipping out of your clothes. So you have to feel sorry for those men — the fellow on the left must be roasting under all that heavy red velvet, and the guy on the right, the one with the 1968 head of hair, he’s not much better off either. But the women look cool. OK, so maybe they ate too much pasta the past few years, but they do look cool.  Heavy, but  cool.

The painting has had different names – Country Fiesta, is one — but if you call it Giorgione’s Pastoral Concert, that will be fine. Giorgione’s full name is Giorgio Barbarelli da Castelfranco; he was a Venetian and one of his students was Titian. In fact, the Louvre, where this painting hangs, believes that Titian painted it, or, at least, finished what Giorgione had started to paint shortly before his death.  Only about a half dozen of   Giorgione’s paintings survive, and many, like this one, have a  suggestive, enigmatic  quality about them.

More Notes


Tim Carmody, in his excellent piece, "How Haiti Became Poor", notes that President Trump's racist policies and vulgar language have sullied the word "shithole" which used to be one of the all-time great swear words. He's right. It's another terrible power this careless President wields.