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Giorgione, Il Tramonto (The Sunset)

Key facts
Full title Il Tramonto (The Sunset)
Artist Giorgione
Artist dates 1473/4? – 1510
Date made 1506-10
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 73.3 × 91.4 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1961
Inventory number NG6307
Location Room 29
Collection Main Collection
Il Tramonto (The Sunset)

The meaning of this scene is difficult to decipher, largely because the painting is very damaged and many areas are not original. The two foreground figures are genuine and may represent Saint Roch and Gothardus, who tended the plague sore on Saint Roch’s thigh. If this is the case, the picture might have been painted to commemorate relief from the plague in the Veneto in 1504. The sinister little beaked creature emerging from the water also seems to be genuine, although its meaning is unclear.

After its rediscovery in the 1930s, the painting underwent several phases of restoration. Saint George and the dragon were added to cover a large area of damage, as was the monster in the lake, and the ‘hermit’ in the cave on the right was extensively repainted. However, the distant landscape with its atmospheric dissolution of light is evidence of Giorgione’s work.

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