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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Titian

Titian

Titian

Titian (1490 – 1576) was the most famous painter of the 16th-century Venetian school. So much so that his contemporaries recognised him as one of the most accomplished painters, adept with portraits, landscape, and mythological and religious subjects. His application and use of colour, his vivid, luminous tints, his brushwork and subtlety of tone had a profound influence on Western art.

Titian’s Masterpieces

  • Bacchus and Ariadne
    • “Bacchus and Ariadne” by Titian depict Bacchus, the god of wine, emerging with his followers from the right of the scene and according to myth, falling in love on first sight with Ariadne. Titian shows Bacchus leaping from his chariot to protect Ariadne, who has been abandoned on a Greek island and deserted by her lover Theseus, whose ship sails away to the far left of the picture. The first commission for this painting was given to Raphael, who unfortunately died young in 1520 and Titian was given the opportunity to paint this mythological subject during 1522 for a wealthy patron. Museum: National Gallery, London
  • The Rape of Europa
    • The “Rape of Europa” by Titian is a mythological painting of the story of the abduction of Europa by Zeus, painted about 1560 – 62. In Greek mythology, Europa was the mother of King Minos of Crete, a woman with Phoenician origins, after whom the continent of Europe was named. The painting depicts the story of her abduction by Zeus, who is in the form of a white bull. This myth was originally a Cretan story, and many of the love-stories concerning Zeus originated from even more ancient myths describing his marriages with goddesses. Museum: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
  • Perseus and Andromeda
    • “Perseus and Andromeda” by Titian dramatically depict the Greek mythological story of Andromeda. Perseus is portrayed attacking the sea monster, who turns to attack the hero, while Andromeda’s white body is contrasted against the dark undercliff and portrayed as pure innocence. Museum:  Wallace Collection
  • Diana and Actaeon
    • “Diana and Actaeon” by Titian depicts the moment of surprise when the young hunter named Actaeon, unwittingly stumbles on the naked goddess Diana who is enjoying a bath in a spring with help from her escort of nymphs. The nymphs scream in surprise and attempt to cover Diana, who, in a fit of fury, splashes water upon Actaeon. As a mortal man, he is transformed into a deer with antlers and promptly flees in fear. Museum: The National Gallery, London
  • The Death of Actaeon
    • “The Death of Actaeon” by Titian depicts the last stage of the mythological story in which the young hunter named Actaeon, who unwittingly stumbles on the naked goddess Diana who is enjoying a bath in a spring. Diana is surprised to be caught during her bath in an exposed naked state by Actaeon and in response splashes water upon Actaeon, who as a mortal is transformed into a deer with antlers and flees in fear. This painting recounts the unfortunate fate of Actaeon, who after fleeing is tracked down by his hounds and killed because they failed to recognise their master. Museum: The National Gallery, London

Titian

Explore the Artists and their Art

Quotes by Titian

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A good painter needs only three colours: black, white and red.

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The painter must always seek the essence of things, always represent the essential characteristics and emotions of the person he is painting.

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He who improvises can never make a perfect line of poetry.

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Painting done under pressure by artists without the necessary talent can only give rise to formlessness, as painting is a profession that requires peace of mind.

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From the example of the past, the man of the present acts prudently so as not to imperil the future.

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Those who are compelled to paint by force, without being in the necessary mood, can produce only ungainly works because this profession requires an unruffled temper.

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Art is stronger than Nature

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It is not bright colors but good drawing that makes figures beautiful.

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The painter must always seek the essence of things, always represent the essential characteristics and emotions of the person he is painting.

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I think I am beginning to learn something about painting.

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Reflections

  •  About 300 of Titian’s artworks have survived.
  • Titian died of a fever in 1576, during the plague that raged in Venice.
  • The painter must always seek the essence of things.

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“It is not bright colours but good drawing that makes figures beautiful.”
– Titian

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Photo Credit: 1) Titian [Public domain]

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