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.
Cardinal Joseph Fesch [1763-1839], Rome; (his sale, Palazzo Ricci, Rome, 17 March 1845 and days following, 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; sold August 1937 to (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London, New York, and Paris); sold 1938 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1939 to NGA.
Associated NamesAllendale, Wentworth Blackett Beaumont, 1st baron
Allendale, Wentworth Canning Blackett Beaumont, 1st viscount and 2nd baron
Allendale, Wentworth Henry Canning Beaumont, 2nd viscount and 3rd baron
Beaumont, Thomas Wentworth
Christie, Manson & Woods, Ltd.
Duveen Brothers, Inc.
Fesch, Joseph, Cardinal
Kress Foundation, Samuel H.
- 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).
- 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).
- Berenson and the Connoisseurship of Italian Painting, Natioanal Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1979, no. 60, repro.
- The Pastoral Landscape: The Legacy of Venice, The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1988-1989, no. 3, fig. 43.
- 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.
- Duveen Brothers. Duveen Pictures in Public Collections of America. New York, 1941: nos. 147-150, repros.
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- Book of Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 247, repro. 113.
- Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. Masterpieces of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1944: 64, color repro.
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- Walker, John, Guy Emerson, and Charles Seymour. Art Treasures for America: An Anthology of Paintings & Sculpture in the Samuel H. Kress Collection. London, 1961: 94, repro. 88, color repro. 86, 89.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 142, repro.
- Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 58.
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- Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1979: 1:208-211; 2:pl. 144.
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- 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.
- Anderson, Jaynie. Giorgione: The Painter of "Poetic Brevity". New York, 1997: 294-295, repro.
- Freedman, Luba. The "Blurred" Horizon in Leonardo's Paintings, France, 1997, no. 1, repro.
- 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.
- Danziger, Elon. "The Cook Collection: Its Founder and Its Inheritors." The Burlington Magazine 146, no. 1216 (July 2004): 453.
- Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 90-91, no. 64, color repro.
- Santucci, Paola. Su Andrea Mantegna. Naples, 2004: 196, 431 pl. XCVI.
- 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.
- Bacchi, Andrea and Luciana Giacomelli, eds Rinascimento e passione per l'antico: Andrea Riccio e il suo tempo. Exh. cat. Castello di Buonconsiglio. Trento, 2008: 360.
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- Nardini, Claudio. Il natale--arte e letteratura. Florence, 2010: dust jacket cover, 117, 118-119, 256, color repros.
- Cohen, Rachel. “Priceless: How Art Became Commerce” The New Yorker 88, no. 31 (October 8, 2012): 70-71
- Grassi, Marco. "Bernard Berenson Revisited." The New Criterion 32, no. 4 (December 2013): 11.
- Roberts, Roxanne and Amy Argetsinger. "Viscount Visits a Family Heirloom." Washington Post 136, no. 238 (July 31, 2013): C2, color fig.
- Brown, David Alan. "Looking Backward; Americans Collect Italian Renaissance Art." In A Market for Merchant Princes: Collecting Italian Renaissance Paintings in America ed. Inge Reist. (The Frick Collection Studies in the History of Art Collecting in America, 2) University Park, Pennsylvania, 2015: 2-3, 4, color fig. 2.
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