THIS IMAGE NEEDS TO BE LIGHTENED A LITTLE

Giorgione’s The Tempest, c. 1505, is as complex as Gauguin’s. Sociologically, the woman represents healthy innocence. Though naked, she does not convey sexuality as she is without shame as she nurses her child. Giorgione created the like-look effect as the woman sees us seeing her nursing but does not shirk or, in a panic, attempt to cover up.

But what about the man at left? How does he see her? What clues does the artist give viewers to decipher the narrative? He wears a red jacket, red patterned shorts, and a red stocking. He holds a diagonally projecting pole, is standing in front of a brick wall with a truncated pillar, and displays a trouser tent. Obviously, the man sees the woman as sexual restlessness and fetishes her. Our gaze constantly travels between the two figures resulting in a love triangle in which we are invited to participate. We see him seeing her seeing us and we get enraged that he objectifies and disrespects her. Narcissism? Female viewers who have seen mothers with their children can easily identify with the image of breast feeding and maternal affection. Male viewers may or may not identify with the man either due to his looks or predatory habits. Fetishism? Could women fetish that man, perhaps if men dressed like circus clowns are attractive. Could men fetish that woman? No. I think that that is the point of the painting. In the background, Giorgione painted an approaching lightening storm, hence the title. Perhaps the sky portends the potential for foul actions in the foreground.