Pastoral Concert
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Arty Fact

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Le Concert champêtre, or Pastoral Concert, dates from the earlier part of Titian's career, when the artist was just emerging from the tutelage of Giorgione as an independent artist.

Nothing is known of the origins of this celebrated picture, the iconographic interpretation of which continues to be hotly debated. Equally contentious is the question of its authorship…

Although Titian was an assistant of Giorgione, critics generally preferred Titian's work, which caused a rivalry between the two artists. It is ironic that even today there is a controversy as to which artist created the Pastoral Concert, or whether they did it collaboratively. We do know that Manet used the painting as the model for his 1863 painting Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass), which scandalized critics for its depiction of nude women in 19th century French society.

Manet's friend Antonin Proust related that Manet was inspired by the image of a woman bathing in the Seine at Argenteuil, and that Manet said, "I copied Giorgione's women, the women with musicians. It's black that painting. The ground has come through. I want to redo it and do it with a transparent atmosphere with people like those we see over there."

While some writers contend that the two nude women are muses referring to Aristotle's distinction between lyric poetry and the more everyday lyricist, Hugh Honour and John Fleming contend that the painting is "entirely without any discernible narrative content, mythological or otherwise." They add that "the theme might possibly be harmony, though whether harmony between man and nature, or the sexes, or classes of society or simply of musical instruments, we are left to guess." It's remarkable that Honour and Fleming's tone, speculative, puzzled, and timid, is typical of writing on this painting, which many writers consider to be the pinnacle of painting in this style and period. In a sense the Concert, although "entirely secular," has carved out a sacred place for itself beyond clear iconography, authorship, and narrative, although this indefiniteness only adds to its attractiveness to both writers and artists.

Finally, it is an early example of the "male gaze" as theorized by feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey, whereby the viewer of the painting inhabits an aspect of the passion of the man to unveil, reveal, and possess the woman.




  1. Eastham, Andrew. Aesthetic Afterlives: Irony, Literary Modernity and the Ends of Beauty. London: A&C Black, 2011.
  2. Honour Hugh, and John Fleming. A World History of Art. London, Laurence King Publishing, 2005.
  3. Humfrey, Peter. Titian. London: Phaidon, 2007.
  4. Magi, Giovanna. The Grand Louvre and the Musee D'Orsay. Florence: Casa Editrice Bonechi, 1998.
  5. Mulvey, Laura. Visual and Other Pleasures. Berlin: Springer, 1989.
  6. Rubin, James H., and Olivia Mattis. Rival Sisters, Art and Music at the Birth of Modernism, 1815-1915. London: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2014.
  7. Tinterow, Gary, and Henri Loyrette. Origins of Impressionism. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Pastoral Concert

The Pastoral Concert or Le Concert champêtre is an oil painting of c. 1509 attributed to the Italian Renaissance master Titian, previously attributed to his fellow and contemporary Giorgione. It is in the Musée du Louvre in Paris.


The painting was originally attributed to Giorgione, but modern critics assign it more likely to the slightly younger Titian, as the figures' robustness is thought more typical of his style. It is also possible that Giorgione (whose works included elements such as music, pastoral subjects and the simultaneous representation of the visible and invisible) began the work, and then, after his death in 1510, it was finished by Titian.

The work was owned by the Gonzaga family, perhaps inherited from Isabella d'Este: it was later sold to Charles I of England. When the English royal collections were dispersed following the revolution of 1649, the painting was sold at auction to the German banker and art collector, Eberhard Jabach, who, in turn, sold it to Louis XIV in 1671.

The painting was also attributed to Palma the Elder and Sebastiano del Piombo.

Édouard Manet conceived his Le déjeuner sur l'herbe (1863) after viewing the Pastoral Concert in a visit to the Louvre museum.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Pastoral Concert.