Overview

Giorgione has always been considered one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance, and one whose influence on following generations of painters was considerable. For all his fame, very little is known about his short life (he may have died during a plague epidemic in 1510 at age 32 or 33), and only a few paintings can be definitively attributed to him. He initially studied with Giovanni Bellini, seems to have been influenced by Leonardo, and could claim Titian and Sebastiano del Piombo as his pupils.

The Adoration of the Shepherds, or the Allendale Nativity, as it is commonly known after one of its previous owners, is now almost unanimously accepted as Giorgione’s work. This important painting had an immediate impact on Venetian artists. The composition is divided into two parts, with a dark cave on the right and a luminous Venetian landscape on the left. The shimmering draperies of Joseph and Mary are set off by the darkness behind them and contrast with the tattered dress of the shepherds. The scene is one of intense meditation; the rustic, yet dignified, shepherds are the first to recognize Christ's divinity and they kneel accordingly. Mary and Joseph also participate in the adoration, creating an atmosphere of intimacy.

Inscription

Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Cardinal Joseph Fesch [1763-1839], Rome; (Fesch sale, George, Rome, 17 March 1845, no. 874). Claudius Tarral, Paris; (Tarral sale, Christie & Manson, London, 11 June 1847, no. 55); purchased by (Banting) for Thomas Wentworth Beaumont [d. 1848], Bretton Hall, Yorkshire, England; by inheritance to his son, Wentworth Blackett Beaumont, 1st baron Allendale [1829-1907], Bretton Hall; by inheritance to his son, Wentworth Canning Blackett Beaumont, 1st viscount and 2nd baron Allendale [1860-1923], Bretton Hall; by inheritance to his son, Wentworth Henry Canning Beaumont, 2nd viscount and 3rd baron Allendale [1890-1956], Bretton Hall;[1] sold August 1937 to (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London, New York, and Paris);[2] sold 1938 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York;[3] gift 1939 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1912
A Collection of Pictures of the Early Venetian School and Other Works of Art, Burlington Fine Arts Club, London, 1912, no. 19 (no. 58 and frontispiece in illustrated catalogue titled Early Venetian Pictures and Other Works of Art).
1930
Exhibition of Italian Art 1200-1900, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1930, no. 395 (no. 332, pl. CXXV of commemorative catalogue published 1931; not in souvenir catalogue).
1979
Berenson and the Connoisseurship of Italian Painting, Natioanal Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1979, no. 60, repro.
1988
The Pastoral Landscape: The Legacy of Venice, The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1988-1989, no. 3, fig. 43.
2006
Bellini, Giorgione, Titian, and the Renaissance of Venetian Painting, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, 2006-2007, no. 17, repro., as Adoration of the Shepherds ("Allendale Nativity"), fig. 2 in brochure.

Bibliography

1941
Duveen Brothers. Duveen Pictures in Public Collections of America. New York, 1941: nos. 147-150, repros.
1941
Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 78-79, no. 400, pl. V.
1942
Book of Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 247, repro. 113.
1944
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Masterpieces of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1944: 64, color repro.
1944
Frankfurter, Alfred M. The Kress Collection in the National Gallery. New York, 1944: 47, repro.
1945
Paintings and Sculpture from the Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1945 (reprinted 1947, 1949): 99, repro.
1946
Favorite Paintings from the National Gallery of Art Washington, D.C.. New York, 1946: 15-18, color repro.
1949
L. J. Roggeveen. "De National Gallery of Art te Washington." Phoenix 4, no. 12 (December 1949): , 337, repro. 335.
1951
Einstein, Lewis. Looking at Italian Pictures in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1951: 78-82, repro.
1956
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1956: 26, color repro.
1957
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Comparisons in Art: A Companion to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. London, 1957 (reprinted 1959): pl. 133
1959
Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 154, repro.
1960
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Later Italian Painting in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., 1960 (Booklet Number Six in Ten Schools of Painting in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.): 24, color repro.
1960
The National Gallery of Art and Its Collections. Foreword by Perry B. Cott and notes by Otto Stelzer. National Gallery of Art, Washington (undated, 1960s): 19, color repro. 12.
1961
Seymour 1961 (Kress), 94, repro. 88, color repro. 86, 89
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 142, repro.
1965
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 58
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 1:160, color repro.
1966
Schiller, Gertrud. Ikonographie der christlichen Kunst. 6 vols. Gütersloh, 1966-1990: 1:98, 218, 328, fig. 221.
1968
European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 50, repro.
1968
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Italian Schools, XV-XVI Century. London, 1968: 151-152, fig. 367-370.
1975
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 152, repro.
1978
Gibbons, Felton. "Further Thoughts on the Allendale Nativity." Studies in the History of Art vol. 8 (1978):23-34, color repro.
1979
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1979: I:208-211, II:pl. 144
1979
Watson, Ross. The National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1979: 35, pl. 17.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 196, no. 232, color repro.
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 175, repro.
1991
Kopper, Philip. America's National Gallery of Art: A Gift to the Nation. New York, 1991: 180-181, 183, color repro.
1992
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 28, repro.
1992
Rearick, W. R. "From Arcady to the Barnyard." Studies in the History of Art 36 (1992):137-141. repro. no. 1.
1992
Rosand, David. "Pastoral Topoi: On the Construction of Meaning in Landscape." Studies in the History of Art 36 (1992):164, repro. no. 1.
1993
Freedberg, S. J. "The Attribution of the Allendale Nativity." Studies in the History of Art 45 (1993): 51-70, repro. no. 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 14, 23.
1993
Steinberg, Arthur. "Blurred Boundaries, Opulent Nature, and Sensuous Flesh: Changing Technological Styles in Venetian Painting, 1480-1520." Studies in the History of Art 45 (1993): 216.
1997
Anderson, Jaynie. Giorgione: The Painter of "Poetic Beauty". New York, 1997: 294-295, repro.
1997
Freedman, Luba. The "Blurred" Horizon in Leonardo's Paintings, France, 1997, no. 1, repro.
1998
Gibson, Sarah S. “Shepherds/Shepherdesses." In Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art. Edited by Helene E. Roberts. 2 vols. Chicago, 1998: 2:820, 823.
2004
Danziger, Elon. "The Cook Collection: Its Founder and Its Inheritors." The Burlington Magazine 146, no. 1216 (July 2004): 453.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 90-91, no. 64, color repro.
2006
Hartt, Frederick and David G. Wilkins. History of Italian Renaissance Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, 2006: 600, color fig. 19.2.
2011
Nardini, Claudio. Il natale--arte e letteratura. Florence, 2010: dust jacket cover, 117, 118-119, 256, color repros.
2012
Cohen, Rachel. “Priceless: How Art Became Commerce” The New Yorker 88, no. 31 (October 8, 2012): 70-71
2013
Grassi, Marco. "Bernard Berenson Revisited." The New Criterion 32, no. 4 (December 2013): 11.
2013
Roberts, Roxanne and Amy Argetsinger. "Viscount Visits a Family Heirloom." Washington Post 136, no. 238 (July 31, 2013): C2, color fig.

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