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Andrea Previtali, Scenes from Tebaldeo's Eclogues: The Story of Damon

Key facts
Full title Scenes from Tebaldeo's Eclogues: Damon broods on his Unrequited Love / Damon takes his Life
Artist Andrea Previtali
Artist dates about 1480 - 1528
Group Scenes from Tebaldeo's Eclogues
Date made about 1510
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 45.2 × 19.9 cm
Acquisition credit Bought with a contribution from the Art Fund, 1937
Inventory number NG4884.1
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Scenes from Tebaldeo's Eclogues: The Story of Damon
Andrea Previtali

These two small paintings are part of a group of four scenes, which are painted on two wooden panels. They would once have decorated a piece of furniture, perhaps the case of a musical instrument. They illustrate key scenes from Tebaldeo’s popular Second Eclogue, first printed in Modena in 1498. The first and third scenes are represented on this panel: Damon broods on his Unrequited Love and Damon takes his Life.

In the first scene the young shepherd, Damon, sits on the ground with his head in his hand, thinking about his unrequited love for Amaryllis. He has stopped playing his lyre and ignores his flock of sheep. In the third scene, Damon is in a rugged, desolate landscape with a lake or shore in the middle distance. We see the moment he plunges the dagger into his chest in despair. A stream of blood pours from the wound, while his lyre lies broken at his feet.

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Scenes from Tebaldeo's Eclogues


These four small pictures were probably painted for a piece of furniture, perhaps the case of a musical instrument. They illustrate the key episodes of the Second Eclogue by Antonio Tebaldeo (1456–1538), a poet from Ferrara.

In the first scene the shepherd Damon broods over his unrequited love for Amaryllis. He neglects his sheep, stops playing his lyre and rests his head in his hand. In the next scene his friend Thyrsis urges him to stop being so melancholy. In the third scene, having broken his instrument and abandoned it on the ground, Damon plunges a dagger into his chest. In the final scene, Thyrsis discovers Damon’s body.

When the paintings were acquired by the National Gallery in 1937 they were believed to be by the Venetian painter Giorgione. However, the scenes resemble other signed works by Previtali and the paintings are now thought to be by him.