This lecture focuses on the riddle of the central figure of a mysterious turbaned Moor in one of the most enigmatic paintings of the Italian Renaissance, Giorgione’s "Three Philosophers" (Venice, 1504) now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Michael Barry, the Patti Cadby Birch Consultative Chairman of the Department of Islamic Art, gets to the bottom of this riddle and articulates the reasons for identifying the turbaned figure as Averroes, the 12th-century Spanish-Arab Islamic philosopher, jurist, and physician. This solution helps illuminate the entire image of Islamic philosophy and the very role of Islam in late medieval and early Renaissance European perceptions.
Above: Vittore Carpaccio, Italian, Venetian, born about 1455, died 1523/26, "The Meditation on the Passion" (detail), ca. 1510. John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1911 (11.118). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The True Moor of Venice: Giorgione and the Mystery of the "Three Philosophers"