10 October - 7 December 2014 in the Prince William V Gallery
This autumn a Titian will be on display in the Prince William V Gallery: Venus Rising from the Sea from around 1520/25, a generous loan from the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh.
Titian has painted a woman standing submerged to her thighs in the sea. Her nude body stands out brilliantly against the blues of the water and sky. She tilts her head and looks to the side as she wrings out her hair. To the left, a shell bobs on the water. This detail makes it clear that this is not just any woman, but Venus, the goddess of love.
Titian has portrayed her as a magnificent creature: full and round in the hips and thighs, small breasts, a classical profile, milky-white skin and a luxuriant sweep of auburn hair. According to the sixteenth-century Venetian ideal of beauty, this was the most beautiful woman imaginable.
Titian (1485/90-1576) was the most influential painter of the Golden Age of Venetian art, the sixteenth century. He was a virtuoso artist with an unparalleled instinct for colour, dynamism and natural detail. He was still only young when he was appointed Venice’s official painter and received commissions from Italy’s various courts. But his most important patrons were Emperor Charles V and his son Phillip II. Titian’s influence was felt long into the seventeenth century and can be seen not only in the work of Italian artists, but in the paintings of Rembrandt too.
Titian ranks among the greatest Italian painters of the fifteenth and sixteenth century. His name can be uttered in the same breath as the three other great masters of the Italian High Renaissance: Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo. And as is true of all the greats, he has the distinction of being known by only his first name.
Titian’s Influence in the Gallery
Two paintings in the Gallery reveal Titian’s influence in seventeenth-century Italy. These are two depictions of the mythological figures Tityus and Sisyphus, painted by Langetti and Zanchi. They recall a series that Titian had produced a century earlier of ‘the four condemned’, four mythological figures sentenced to eternal punishment. The paintings were originally in the collection of the Dukes of Mantua and were purchased for the Mauritshuis by King William I in 1831.