Autumn by Francesco Bassano (c. 1576)

Autumn by Francesco Bassano (c.1576)

Still at the Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna

After looking around the Hans van Aachen exhibition (see yesterday’s post) I went to the wing of the gallery which housed the museum’s collection of Italian paintings and I came across works of art by a father and son, Jacopo and Francesco Bassano. 

Francesco Bassano the Younger, sometimes known as Francesco Giambattista da Ponte or Francesco da Ponte the Younger, was an Italian Renaissance painter who was born in Bassano del Grappa a town 50 miles north west of Venice in 1549.  He was the eldest of four sons and came from a family of painters, his father being the celebrated painter Jacopo Bassano and his grandfather, a village painter, Francesco da Ponte.  His three brothers, Leandro, Gerolamo and Giovanni Battista, like himself followed in the footsteps of their father and both Francesco and Leandro gained reputations as fine painters.

Francesco was trained in his father’s workshop in Bassano del Grappa between 1560 and 1570.  Later he moved to Venice and ran a branch of the family business.  Francesco the Younger had a penchant for rural scenes begun by his father, and he developed this aspect of the workshop.  Sadly, all his life, Francesco was prone to hypochondria and other mental illnesses and soon after his father’s death in 1592, he committed suicide

My Daily Art Display painting today is Autumn by Francesco Bassano, which hangs in the Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna.  He painted this rural scene around 1576.  Against a lush mountainous landscape, he illustrates a country scene with workers busy picking, collecting and crushing the harvested grapes.  In the left foreground are two oxen hauling a cart on which is a large wooden barrel.  Beside the animals is a young girl kneeling, drinking the grape juice.  The background of the picture has a hare, seen in mid flight, and a couple of dilapidated timber-framed thatched dwellings.  The theme for the majority of Francesco’s paintings, notwithstanding whether the theme was religious, mythological or allegorical, was almost always that of a rustic and contemporary setting and decor.

The subject matter of the painting, harvesting of the grapes, is obviously secular and yet there is also a subtle religious aspect to the painting for if one looks closely at the background on the left hand side one can just make out, on the top of a grassy mound, a kneeling man dressed in a white robe.  He is seen receiving an object from a godly figure in the sky who is reaching down from the illuminated cloud.   This god-like figure extends his hands towards the arms of the kneeling individual. The interpretation of this is that it is probable that this small scene depicts Moses receiving the two stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. This was a popular iconography during the Renaissance and it was not unusual to include the detail within a larger genre scene such as the harvest.

Have you a favourite painting which you would like to see on My Daily Art Display?  

If so, let me know and tell me why it is a favourite of yours and I will include it in a future offering.