The Pastoral Concert, by Titian

The Pastoral Concert, by Titian
The Pastoral Concert, by Titian

Two young men, one dressed in a red costume with bloused sleeves and playing a lute, the other blond with bare feet and simply dressed, are seated in the center of a landscape of dells bathed in the light of sunset. One either side of them are nude women: one stands a little distance away and pours water into a fountain; the other, seated with her back to the viewer, plays the flute. In the background, under a grove of trees, a herdsman tends his sheep. The strangeness of the meeting of these two dressed men and two nude female figures suggests a complex meaning. It seems Titian wanted two worlds to confront one another here: Venetian aristocracy on the one hand, and nymphs and shepherds on the other. No one speaks: they communicate through music.

The theme of music in a serene landscape might evoke an allegory of Poetry - a poem or a legend. Titian gives great weight to the landscape; it is not used as simple d├ęcor, but as a reflection of a certain state of mind. The search for balance is shown through the integration of these figures in a setting where man and nature must coexist in perfect harmony. This thought evokes the myth of Arcadia recounted in Virgil's Bucolics and reinterpreted by the Neapolitan poet Jacopo Sannazzaro. The myth tells of the happy life of the shepherds of Arcadia, whose existence is centered around music and song.