XI-B. Venice

High Renaissance

XI-10 Titian, Worship of Venus

Titian. Worship of Venus (also called Amores), Prado, Madrid. probably 1517-1519.

Painted for the camerino d'alabastro of Alfonso d'Este.

The painting shows a grassy landscape bounded on the viewer's left by a small grove of apple trees, then a knoll with small houses above a lake, and on the horizon a tower. On the right a statue of Venus stands on a high plinth against shadowy trees. Four winged children fly around the trees, plucking apples: in the foreground, a large group of winged children play. Many gather apples, others embrace, wrestle, shoot arrows, or simply gambol. Two young women enter the scene from the right, immediately in front of the statue of Venus. One, running forward, rises her head to look in a mirror at something out of the picture, and the other looks back over her shoulder.

Detail of winged children (erotes/cupids).

Detail of women.

XI-11 Titian, Bacchus and Ariadne

Titian. Bacchus and Ariadne. after 1520. The National Gallery, London. (It is unclear whether this was painted before or after The Bacchanal of the Andrians)

Painted for the camerino d'alabastro of Alfonso d'Este.

Oil on canvas. One and three quarters meters by almost two meters, or five feet nine inches by six feet three inches.

Ariadne runs along the coast, gesturing toward a ship that sails away in the distance. Behind her comes Bacchus at the head of his followers. He is leaping toward her from his chariot. Behind the god child-satyr drags a calf's head along the ground, while a dog barks at him. Behind the child comes a thiasos including two maenads with cymbals, and four male figures of various types, one waving an animal leg aloft, another wreathed in snakes.

Detail of Bacchus

Detail of dancers.

XI-12 Titian, Bacchanal of the Andrians

Titian. The Bacchanal of the Andrians, The Prado, Madrid. 1520s. (It is unclear whether this was painted before or after Bacchus and Ariadne.)

Painted for the camerino d'alabastro of Alfonso d'Este.

This complicated composition can be roughly divided into three levels: in the foreground are four figures arranged in two groups; immediately behind them come a dense series of figures, again divided into two groups, and, finally, several background details.

Foreground: A nude woman lies asleep in the right corner of the painting. Beside her a small boy lifts his garment to urinate. Further to the left, two women with contemporary Italian clothes and hairstyles recline on the grass. Each holds a recorder, and a sheet of music lies in front of them. One of the pair holds a shallow dish out behind her into the second level.

Middle ground: The dish is filled from a pitcher held by a nude man. Near him are four other nude or seminude men , one carrying a large jug, one drinking, one lurching drunkenly, and one reclining behind the foreground women. He touches one of the women's ankles, but looks up at the figures in the middle ground on the right. These figures wear elegant but abbreviated garments. One, in the center, seems to lurch. Behind him, another holds up a glass pitcher filled with wine so that it is silhouetted against the white clouds filling much of the sky. At right, a young man and woman dance.

Background: Behind the dancers, at the top of a low hill, an old man stretches out in sleep. In the space between the nude and the clothed figures a landscape opens up, and we can see a ship sailing away in the distance, almost merging into the clouds.


Middle ground


XI-13 Giorgione, Sleeping Venus (some work by Titian)

Giorgione (and Titian). Sleeping Venus. c. 1510. Gemäldegalerie, Dresden.

Oil on canvas. About one by one and three quarters meters or three feet six inches by five feet eight inches.

XI-14 Titian, Venus of Urbino

Titian. Venus of Urbino c. 1538. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.

Three feet eleven inches by five feet five inches (1.19 by 1.65).

Painted for the Duke of Urbino.

A nude woman lies on a bed at the front of a room. In the back two women are taking clothes out of a chest.

XI-15 Titian, Venus, Cupid and Organ Player

Titian. Venus with Cupid and an Organist. 1548

Painted for the Emperor Charles V; first of at least five versions of this composition.

Venus, nude except for jewelry, reclines against pillows on a velvet-covered bed. Her son leans against her. At the left, a man in contemporary Spanish dress plays an organ, while looking over his shoulder at the goddess. Behind them a dull red curtain and a window sill frame a view into a park where two lovers walk down a road, and a satyr fountain plays.

Detail of organist.

Detail of fountain with satyr.

Detail of Venus and Cupid.

XI-16 Titian, Rape of Europa

Titian. The Rape of Europa. 1559-1562. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.

Painted for Philip II of Spain, one of the "poesies" he commissioned.

At the viewer's left several women stand on a distant shore. A shimmering white bull swims strongly toward the right. A woman rolls on his back, one hand clasping his horn while the other waves a rosy cloth in the air. The woman looks up at two cupids who fly over head and gesture toward her. Another cupid rides a large fish through the water. Between the shore and the swimming bull the sea stretches away to a rosy horizon.

Detail of Europa and bull.

Detail of Cupids.

Detail of companions left on shore.

Persons and Events:

  • Europa

  • Eros (Erotes)

  • Cupid

  • Dionysos

  • Venus

  • Bacchus

  • Ariadne

  • Andrians

  • Deities of Place

  • Bacchanal

  • Love

  • Rape

Objects and Places:

  • Painting on house walls

  • Painting to hang in houses

  • Private space

  • Camerino

Texts and Authors:

  • Ovid

  • Catullus

  • Philostratus’ Imagines