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Probably by Bernardino da Asola, The Garden of Love

Key facts
Full title The Garden of Love
Artist Probably by Bernardino da Asola
Artist dates active about 1525 - 50
Date made about 1535-50
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 221 × 148.3 cm
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG930
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Garden of Love
Probably by Bernardino da Asola

Two elegantly dressed couples have been making music on the banks of a small stream. The young man in the foreground pauses from playing his fiddle to watch the amorous couple on the other bank. The lady reclines beside her lover, and a lute and music lie abandoned on the grass. Music and playing instruments are frequently associated with lovemaking in the art and writing of this period. The pair of doves beside the foreground couple and the roses held by the lady – both attributes of Venus, the goddess of love – suggest that they are also lovers.

The costume in this painting dates from about 1540 and is particular to the region of Brescia. This painting was formerly thought to be Venetian and by a follower of Giorgione. However, the Brescian costume and subject matter suggest it was painted by a provincial artist working outside Venice. The buildings and other features are similar to those in the National Gallery’s Adoration of the Shepherds attributed to Bernardino da Asola.

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