On June 20, 1789 more than 500 deputies of the third estate took the oath of allegiance in the tennis court in Paris. It was apparent that only the revolutionary painter David could be commissioned to depict this event.
David planned to produce a painting more than six metres long sublimating the historic oath and preserving it for posterity. He failed: the scrupulously detailed representations of the individual figures would not resolve into a unified composition. The time in which David was working was not ripe for the transmutation of a very profane present into a convincing history painting, and the work remained unfinished.
Catalogue numbers: F 282, JH 1165.
A significant part of the pictures painted by van Gogh in his Parisian period belonged to the genre of still-life with flowers. These paintings can be considered experimental aiming to lighten his palette and explored colours.
The characteristic features of the present still-life are the depiction of cineraria, a rarely represented flower, and the unusual diagonal cut which contrasts with van Gogh's other Parisian still-lifes of frontal, symmetrical composition. The pot looks as if it were falling over, its spatial positioning is somewhat uncertain.
The altar-piece, called the Castelfranco Madonna, was in all probability commissioned by the Condottiere Tuzio Costanzo in memory of his son Matteo, who died in 1504: the Costanzo coat of arms can be seen on the base of the Virgin's throne. It can almost certainly be dated to 1505. Although it is not signed, the authorship is made indisputable by Giorgione's individual technique in laying on delicately shaded coats of paint without any underlying scaffolding from a drawing. The traditional scheme of composition is lightened by the novel use of such elements as the throne and the landscape, which takes up a good portion of the background.
This smallish altarpiece echoes the artistic approach developed by Giovanni Bellini, who was probably one of Giorgione's teachers. Giorgione softens both the atmosphere surrounding the figures and that in the space before the viewer. This atmospheric veil has a palpable analogy with the methods of Leonardo da Vinci, who was known to have been in Venice in 1500 and it is possible that Giorgione had seen some works by the Florentine genius. Yet the figural proportions and the lacy landscape speak to a fully personal Giorgionesque idiom.
In the predella below the Annunciation, near the two farthest edges, two scenes are painted (23 x 14 cm each). The first represent the Birth of the Virgin, the other The Virgin Consigns the Habit to St Dominic. There are five central scenes of the life of the Virgin, one after the other without interruption (23 x 183 cm), namely (from the left). Marriage of the Virgin, The Visitation, Adoration of the Magi, Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, Death of the Virgin.
This picture shows the scene of The Virgin Consigns the Habit to St Dominic.