With a surprised, questioning and perhaps slightly annoyed expression, the scholar looks at us over his shoulder. His youthful protégé with the soft brown curls and dark eyes seems completely absorbed by the explanations of his teacher, who is demonstrating how to measure heaven and earth with a compass and an astrolabe. Current research suggests that this is a work by the Venetian painter Giorgione which the artist-biographer Giorgio Vasari had seen in the palazzo of the Borgherini family in Florence: a portrait of the young Giovanni Borgherini with his teacher from Venice. In fact, the striking physiognomy of the scholar depicted here corresponds entirely to the appearance of the Venetian polymath Trifone Gabriele (1470–1549) as recorded in contemporary portraits. Written sources attest to the fact that Trifone was indeed a tutor to young Giovanni while the latter stayed in Venice in his youth.
For more details on the painting cf. the essays by Antonio Mazzotta and Johanna Pawis in: Venezia 500<<. The Gentle Revolution of Venetian Painting, Exhibition Catalogue, A. Schumacher (ed.), Munich: Hirmer Publishers 2023.