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Scenes from Tebaldeo's Eclogues

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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.

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