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Video transcript

we're in the consortium in Vienna looking at Giorgio knees the three philosophers but that title is provisional because we really have no idea what this painting is about these figures clearly represent something they're each so very distinct in their gestures and the way that they look and how they're dressed and what they hold that there must be a key but we don't know what it is so let's take a look at what Giorgio nee is offering us and see if we can't figure this out at least a little bit their faces that are beautifully illuminated by that light just before dusk when the Sun is low in the sky but the figure seceded the youngest of the three is wearing this green and brilliant white he holds in his hand a compass at a right angle the standing figure next to him red in blue wearing a turban seems to be gesturing over to the oldest figure on the extreme right side who is himself dressed in these rich golds he holds a compass in his left hand and a drawing in his right and that drawing seems to have on it a son perhaps a moon some geometric diagrams so perhaps he's an ancient philosopher or a mathematician so this is esoteric knowledge it is knowledge that perhaps has been lost to us and he's the oldest of the three figures and he seems to look if anything inward the figure next to him by contrast looks down that's a standing man in middle age and then the youngest figure seems to look up but look what he's looking at into the darkness into this cave form he seems to be trying to measure not only the physical world around him in contrast to the old man on the right who seems to be measuring the cosmos in some way but he seems to be trying to understand an draw out something factual something actual from a space that he can't really see or at least that we can't really see it's very complicated and the most recent theory matches what we're describing ourselves as we stand and look at it which is that the figure on the Left represents the earth at Giorgione lived of this new humanist interest in the world around us that the figure in the center who looks like he's wearing foreign clothing may represent the Islamic world on the way that they preserved ancient Greek and Roman knowledge and the figure on the far right may represent that philosophy of ancient Greece and Rome other competing theories take these figures as the three great monotheistic religions Christianity Islam and Judaism another theory is that they represent three specific philosophers we really don't know we know that George Oni did work for aristocratic patrons in Venice and they seem to have preferred a new type of subject and often we really can't determine what those were they're not the standard Christian subject well right they're not enacting a narrative they're not enacting a biblical story they're not representations of mythic figures in a sense they seem to be referencing a set of ideas and that is more elusive and thus it's lost to us so even though we can't determine the specific meaning we can still really enjoy the painting the composition is so interesting because they are pushed over to the right they occupy less than half the canvas but they're perfectly balanced by the darkness the mass of the cave on the left and then between those groups a really beautiful landscape that to me looks very Venetian well look at that atmospheric perspective as we move back the hillside becomes bluer and bluer and then that's played against the golden light of that Setting Sun and that golden light is the environment for all of the figures that's one of the wonderful things about Giorgione a Venetian painting is that there's a real sense of atmosphere of time of day of a soft glowing light that envelops the landscape that also envelops the figures it creates a mood for the entire painting which is soft and contemplative and really does underscore the idea that something profound is taking place you