Head of a Venetian Girl
c. 1509
Giorgione (Giorgio da Castelfranco) (Italian, 1477/78-1510)
On View

The subject of this intriguing painting remains unclear. The informal arrangement of the figure’s clothing, the delicate, floral head wreath and jeweled element have led to her designation as a courtesan or ‘bella,’ a genre of idealized, female busts invented by the innovative painter known as Giorgione. Her likeness should not be viewed as a portrait in the real sense because Giorgione, as well as Titian and Leonardo da Vinci, developed variations on the close-up, half-length personification of female beauty. Such sensuous portrayals were meant to be affective, and expressive of a thought or a mood. They correspond to similar preoccupations in the literary world where the celebration of female beauty in sonnets was highly fashionable.

Overall, the poetic mood, suggestion of movement, and interest in ‘morbido,’ (softness), were characteristics shared by both Giorgione and the young Titian at this moment in their careers. In fact, since the mid-19th century, some Venetian painting specialists have suggested Titian as the author. Head of a Venetian Girl, which has an illustrious pedigree, was included in the landmark “Art Treasures of Great Britain” held in Manchester, England in 1857. One of the largest exhibitions ever mounted, it greatly influenced the presentation of objects in public collections according to period and national schools.


  • Artist Name: Giorgione (Giorgio da Castelfranco) (Italian, 1477/78-1510)
  • Title: Head of a Venetian Girl
  • Date: c. 1509
  • Medium: Oil on panel, transferred to canvas
  • Dimensions: 12-1/2 x 9-3/8 in. (31.8 x 23.8 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation
  • Accession Number: F.1965.1.028.P
  • Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation

Object Information

Rt. Hon. James Howard Harris, 3rd Earl of Malmesbury, Stratford Place, London (sale 1 July 1876, lot 10, as Anonymous, sold for ₤9.19 to);
William Graham, Grosvenor Place, London (sale Christie’s, London, 10 April 1886, lot 443, as Titian, probably bought-in by Agnews for the heirs);
Lady Horner, daughter of Graham (sale 30 June 1906, London, lot 124, sold for ₤147 to);
Prince Karl Max von Lichnowsky, German Ambassador in London, Kuchelna, Hultschin, Czechoslovakia.
Sir Alexander Henderson, Buscot Park, Faringdon, Berkshire, by 1914.
[Paul Cassirer, Berlin].
Sir Alfred Moritz Mond (d. 1930), 1st Baron Melchett of Landford, Southhampton, Melchett Court, Romsey, Hampshire, by inheritance to;
Sir Henry Ludwig Mond, 2nd Baron Melchett of Landford, Southhampton, Colworth House, Sharnbrook, Bedshire.
[Kurt M. Stern, to;]
[Duveen Brothers, New York, stock no. 29643, by 1935-1937, sold 1965 to];
The Norton Simon Foundation.

Venetian Painting

  • Detroit Institute of Arts, 1941 to

Giorgione and His Circle

  • Johns Hopkins University, 1942 to

Giorgione e i Giorgioneschi

  • Venice, Palazzo Ducale, 1955-06-11 to 1955-10-23

The Venetian Tradition

  • Cleveland Museum of Art, 1956-11-08 to 1957-01-01

Konstens Venedig: Utställning anordnad med anledning av Konung Gustaf VI Adolf åttioårsdag

  • Stockholm, Nationalmuseum, 1962-10-20 to 1963-02-10

A Loan Exhibition of Fashion Headdress 1450-1943, for the Benefit of New York Infirmary for Women and Children

  • Wildenstein & Co. (New York, N.Y.), 1943-04-27 to 1943-05-27

[on loan]

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1969-09-24 to 1972-09-13

[on loan]

  • New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1980-12-16 to

[on loan]

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1973-04-26 to

Four Centuries of Venetian Painting

  • Toledo Museum of Art, 1940-03 to

Major Masters of the Renaissance

  • Rose Art Museum, 1963-05-03 to 1963-06-09

Exhibition of Italian Art, 1200-1900

  • Burlington House (London, England), 1930-01-01 to 1930-03-08

Loan to the Permanent Collection, The Cleveland Museum of Art

  • Cleveland Museum of Art, 1967-01-10 to 1969-09-23

[on loan]

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1965 to

The Venetian School: Pictures by Titian and His Contemporaries

  • Burlington Fine Arts Club, 1914 to 1915

[on loan]

  • Detroit Institute of Arts, 1974-11-08 to

Lock, Stock and Barrel: Norton Simon's Purchase of Duveen Brothers Gallery

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2014-10-24 to 2015-02-16
  • Shapely, J., Art in America, p. 129
  • Nicholson, B., The Burlington Magazine, p. 32
  • Salvivi, R., Pantheon, p. 239
  • Pignatti, T., Giorgione, p. 121
  • Sutton, Denys, Apollo, p. 53
  • Lucco, M., Giorgione, fig. 75 p. 151
  • Heinemann, F., Giovanni Bellini e i Belliniani, pp. 115, 122; p. 497
  • Pignatti, T., Giorgione, p. 133
  • Robertson, G., The Burlington Magazine, p. 277
  • Douglas, R. Langton, The Connoisseur, p. 7
  • Fiocco, G., Giorgione, p. 16
  • Tietze, H., Arte Veneta, p. 141
  • Morassi, A., Giorgione, p. 218
  • Richardson, E., Art News, p. 39
  • Richter, G., Art Bulletin, p. 443-444
  • Mather, F., Art Bulletin, p. 599
  • Suida, W., Tizian, pp. 17, 157
  • Berenson, Bernhard, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance, p. 575
  • Art News, pp. 12-13
  • Mayer, A., Pantheon, pp. 376, 378
  • Richter, G., The Burlington Magazine, pp. 122-132
  • Troche, G., Pantheon, pp. 4, 7
  • Holmes, C., The Burlington Magazine, p. 66
  • Morassi, A., Emporium, p. 149n
  • Baldass, L. van, Jahrbuch der Kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wein, 1929, p. 104
  • Richter, G., Giorgio da Castelfranco, called Giorgione, 1937, p. 226
  • Coletti, L., Tutta la pittura di Giorgione, 1955, p. 55/p. 44
  • Pallucchini, R., Le Arti, 1955, p. 4
  • Charensol, G., La Revue des Deux Mondes, 1956, pp. 531-532
  • Berenson, Bernhard, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Venetian School, 1957, p. 84
  • Valcanover, F., All the Paintings of Titian, 1960, p. 50
  • Valcanover, F. and C. Cagli, L'opera completa di Tiziano, 1969, no. 29 p. 93
  • Zampetti, P. and C. Gould, The Complete Paintings of Giorgione, 1970, no. 84 p. 101
  • Wethey, H., The Paintings of Titian: The Portraits, 1971, p. 159
  • Rylands, R., Palma il Vecchio, L'opera completa, 1988, pp. 110, 126
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 28
  • Justi, L., Giorgione, 1995, p. 404
  • Anderson, J., Giorgione: Peintre de la "Brièvete Poétique", 1996, pp. 331, 335
  • Joannides, Paul, Titian to 1518, 2001, fig. 83 pp. 94-96
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 152 p. 263
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. D26 p. 443
  • Mazzotta, Antonio, Titian: A Fresh Look at Nature, 2012, Fig. 11 p. 23
  • Renato Miracco, Italian Treasures in the U.S. An Itinerary of Art, 2014, p. #40
Audio Tour
English | Español
Audio Tour Transcript
English | Español
English | Español
Transcripción de Audioguía
English | Español

Image reproduction permission may be granted for scholarly or arts related commercial use. All image requests, regardless of their intended purpose, should be submitted via the reproduction request form.

Images may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. Additional permission may be required.

Approved requests for the reproduction of an image will receive a contract detailing all fees and conditions of use of the image. Upon receipt of both the signed contract and full payment, the Office of Rights and Reproductions will provide the image. A complimentary copy of the published material must be provided to the Norton Simon Museum.

Reproduction Request Form