Painter/Artist: Vecchio Palma

Venetian School. Giacomo Palma, called II Vecchio, as his kinsman was called Palma Giovane. “He stands in the front rank of the secondary post-Giorgionesque Venetians.” His pictures are very numerous, especially his admirable variations of the Sacred Conversation and bust portraits of beautiful ladies; of the latter there are six fine examples at Vienna.


PORTRAIT OF A POET Half length, nearly full face, the body three-quarters right, the eyes left; with long bronze-red hair, slight beard, and moustache. He wears a quilted crimson and blue dress, showing the neck and white shirt, and a mantle round his shoulders. The gloved hand rests on his lap, the left arm on a book, a rosary on the wrist. Background of laurels.

Formerly ascribed to Palma, Titian, and Giorgione in turn.

Purchased in Paris in 1860.


THE ADORATION OF THE SHEPHERDS The Virgin is seated in front of a ruin ornamented with bas-reliefs, turning slightly to the right, holding the Child in a cradle towards a young kneeling shepherd. St. Joseph sits at her right side leaning on his staff. To the left is a kneeling donatrice in a grey dress trimmed with fur. Two spurious signatures, Titianus and Ticiamao, are in the foreground.


THE HOLY FAMILY WITH ST. CATHERINE The Virgin reclines with her back against the trunk of a large tree on the right, turning as she holds out the Child to the little St. John, who stands farther to the right, while St. Joseph is kneeling behind him. Opposite on the left sits St. Catherine watching the holy group, the centre being filled by a distant landscape, with a shepherd and his flock and a hilly background.

JACOB AND RACHAEL In the centre foreground of a landscape are Rachael (to the left) and Jacob embracing as they meet, a staff and bundle near her feet, and a dog near his. Behind them on the left are two shepherds, one sitting watching them, the other watering some sheep; and on the right flocks and herds. In the background on the left are heavy trees, and on the right wooded hills with some buildings.

This picture has been ascribed to Giorgione and to Cariani, but it is now generally considered to be Palma’s.

THE THREE SISTERS Also called “The Three Graces.” Half-length figures of three young women sitting together in a landscape. All are bareheaded, with hair parted in the middle, and are dressed in rich but plain silk dresses with very full sleeves, cut low round the necks. One sits facing us in the middle, her right hand over the shoulder of the second, whose head is bent towards her. The third, on the right, is nearly in profile, her left hand on the arm and her right playing with the hair of the middle one.


HOLY CONVERSATION “The most successful of Palma’s large holy conversations is that of the Naples Museum, where to the usual enticements of soft and portly shape and sunny colour Titianesque vigour and richness are superadded. The Virgin has taken her seat on a knoll within easy distance of a farm (background left) in an undulating country; the weather is fair and warm, and the sun plays upon the clouds and hills and bushes. The mirthful, cheery Child gives the blessing to a lady and her lord, whose heads and hands appear at the picture’s edge (right lower corner) as they approach the foot of the knoll and are introduced by the wild, half-naked St. Jerome. To the left St. John the Baptist on one knee points with powerful gesture to them, and St. Catherine sits behind him.” (C. and C.)