Maestro del Monte di Pietà (active ?1520-?1550)
Maestro del Monte di Pietà (active ?1520-?1550)

The Concert

Details
Maestro del Monte di Pietà (active ?1520-?1550)
The Concert
oil on panel
40 ¾ x 36 ½ in. (108.1 x 92.6 cm.)
inscribed 'TENOR XLVII' (lower right, on the musical notation)
Literature
H. Colin Slim, 'Arcadelt's "Amor, tu sai" in an Anonymous Allegory', I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance, II, 1987, pp. 91-106, as 'North Italian(?)'.

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Lot Essay

This panel is remarkable in its representation of a specific musical score, providing a fascinating insight into the relationships between painting and music during the late Renaissance in Italy, as well as establishing a secure terminus post quem date for the picture. The score resting on the table is an almost exact copy (though written over three lines, rather than six) of the tenor part from the first known printed copy of a madrigal, written for four voices, entitled ‘Amor, tu sai’. This was written by the French or Flemish born composer Jacques Arcadelt (c. 1500-1568), an important figure in the history of early Italian music, and had been printed in Venice by Antonio Gardane (1509-1569) in 1539. It was this printed edition that provided the basis for the Maestro del Monte di Pietà’s careful replication in his painting, including the slightly misshapen final ‘I’ of the ‘XLVII’, which appears in surviving copies of the music (op.cit, p. 98, fig, 3).

Amor, or Love, stands as the central figure in Arcadelt’s madrigal, as one who has ‘greater dominion over us all’ (Brussels, MS 27.731, fol. 17v., in op.cit., p. 103). This celebration of Love can consequently be seen to have been interpreted in visual terms in The Concert as a visual elucidation of Arcadelt’s poem. The group of fashionably dressed men and women singing the madrigal gather around the central figure of Love, who holds up a copy of the music for the figures on the left of the composition. In a broader sense, therefore, it is possible to interpret the scene as an Allegory of Love and Music, concurrent with many late Renaissance ideals that discussed the two as inextricably linked. Thus, as Vasari declared in the 1568 edition of his Lives, ‘Amor is born from Music…[and] always in the company of Music’ (G. Vasari, Le vite de’ più eccellenti pittri, scultori e architettori, ed. G. Milanesi, Florence, 1906, VI, p. 373).
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