National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of A Concert Cariani (painter)
Venetian, 1485/1490 - 1547 or after
A Concert, c. 1518-1520
oil on canvas
overall: 92 x 130 cm (36 1/4 x 51 3/16 in.) framed: 128.8 x 168.1 x 6.4 cm (50 11/16 x 66 3/16 x 2 1/2 in.)
Bequest of Lore Heinemann in memory of her husband, Dr. Rudolf J. Heinemann
On View
From the Tour: Venice and the North
Object 1 of 6

This is widely considered to be Cariani's masterpiece. Born in Bergamo, Cariani trained in the Venetian studios of Giovanni Bellini and Giorgione. Not surprisingly, Cariani's painting style alternates between those of Venice and areas farther north and west. Matter-of-fact details, such as the crumpled cloth used for wiping the fingers and the extra string in its little box, stem from Cariani's northern roots, as does his simple arrangement of solid figures.

The subject, on the other hand, is one Giorgione introduced in Venice. For sophisticated patrons, concert themes represented the transportative quality of music and its ability -- akin to love -- to delight the senses. A second type of picture developed by Giorgione is also evident here: the teacher with his tutor. The strong characterization of the faces suggests that these must be portraits from life. On the left, the prim tutor holds his book, while his charge, on the right, attracts our attention with his outward gaze. The two are separated by the singer, who dominates the moment. Absorbed in a search for inspiration, he is a figure of overly large presence, almost comic in his bulk, extravagant hat, and perhaps too-passionate concentration.

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