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Dante's Divine Comedy with Giorgione illustration and death notice
In 2017, on the last page of this 1497 copy of Dante's Divine Comedy, Library staff discovered a death notice of Renaissance artist Giorgione in the form of an ink inscription written above a red chalk sketch by Giorgione of the Madonna and child. The upper line of the inscription is cut through at the top of the page and is reconstructed. The inscription, translated, reads:
1510 Ihs Maria
On the day of 17 September, Giorgione of Castelfranco, a very excellent artist died of the plague in Venice at the age of 36 and he rests in peace
This discovery of an original drawing by Giorgione was particularly astonishing as he is considered the rarest of the Venetian artists, with only six surviving paintings firmly attributed to him. Giorgione is arguably as important an artist as Leonardo da Vinci, and along with Titian founded the Venetian school of Italian Renaissance painting but much less is known about his life and comparatively few of his works survive.
This death notice and an annotation about his life, will have a transformative effect on the way Venetian art history is written, as it not only gives an exact date for Giorgione’s death, but also gives his age at death, and thus a definite chronology for his life. This will allow art historians to rewrite Giorgione’s placement in relation to his contemporaries.
The article about this find, Giorgione in Sydney, by Kim Wilson, Jaynie Anderson, Nerida Newbigin and Julie Sommerfeldt, is available through the Burlington Magazine, March 2019, Vol. 163. This article also discusses verification work around the chalk drawing and inscription undertaken by the Art Gallery of NSW, The National Gallery in London, and Professor Jaynie Anderson from the University of Melbourne.NotesThis item has been rebound prior to arriving at the University of Sydney, with pages trimmed and stitched into the spine on a slight angle, causing content to be misaligned.