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La Vecchia di Giorgione: iconography and meaning

Picture of Artsupp

La Vecchia by Giorgione is a large oil painting on canvas, created between 1508 and 1510 and now kept in the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice.

It represents the portrait of an old woman with a face marked by the years, dressed in sober clothes and adorned with a white veil.

The painting is one of the most enigmatic and fascinating in the history of art, and has sparked numerous interpretations by art historians.

The Iconography of La Vecchia

The canvas features a complex and sophisticated iconography.

The figure of the old woman is represented in a realistic and raw way, with particular attention to the details of the wrinkled face and smile.

In her hand, the woman clutches a note that reads “over time”.

It would be, for some, a bitter reflection on old age, as a cause of physical decline, but some have also read in it a positive meaning, linked to the growth of wisdom.

Giorgione’s Old Woman

The meaning

Giorgione’s La Vecchia has been the subject of debate among scholars.

Some have suggested, as anticipated, that the painting represents old age as a symbol of wisdom and experience, while others have interpreted the figure as a representation of human vanity and the transience of life.

Still others have seen in the painting a reference to Christian piety, since the figure of the old woman recalls the iconography of the elderly Madonna.

The historical background

Giorgione’s Vecchia was built during the Italian Renaissance, a period of great cultural and artistic ferment.

The artwork, which also inspired Michelangelo for the Sibyls in the Sistine Chapel frescoes, shows the influence of the classical tradition and naturalism, but also features innovative and experimental elements, such as nuance and chiaroscuro.

The painting can be seen as an example of the artist’s quest for a realistic and truthful representation of the world, but also as an example of his sensitivity to the deeper themes of human existence.

In conclusione, la Vecchia di Giorgione è un dipinto di grande fascino e mistero, che continua a suscitare l’interesse degli studiosi e del pubblico.

The complex and sophisticated iconography of the old woman’s figure, combined with her ambivalent expression means that the painting can be interpreted in many different ways.

What is certain is that La Vecchia di Giorgione represents an important example of Italian Renaissance art, and a work of great aesthetic and cultural value.

If in addition to this work you are also interested in the 2023 unmissable exhibitions in Venice, we also recommend:

Venice: exhibtions to see in 2023.

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