Friday, December 13, 2013

Tiziano, Vecellio ; (Titian)

Rape of Europa
oil on canvas
178 × 205 cm
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, MA, USA

The Rape of Europa was painted by Titian for the King of Spain Phillip II.  The painting depicts a completely surprised Europa arms and legs flailing as she is carried away on Jupiter’s back as he is disguised as an ornamented white bull. Europa is portrayed as demure and resistant, weak with desire and frightened beneath a contrasting sky of opposites both calm and turbulent. Cupids one below and two above are transfixed as they watch the tension between Europa and Jupiter. Nymphs ambiguous on the far shore helplessly waive as they watch. Titian used light to accentuate the dramatization and emotions of the painting, superbly depicting the Venetian’s skill in the use of light.

Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio  (c.1488-1576) known in English as Titian was an Italian painter, the most important member of the 16th-century Venetian school. He was born in the Republic of Venice. During his lifetime he was often called da Cadore, taken from the place of his birth. He received important part of his training in the studio of Giovanni Bellini, then came under the spell of Giorgione, with whom he had a close relationship. Recognized by his contemporaries as "The Sun Amidst Small Stars", Titian was one of the most versatile of Italian painters, equally adept with portraits, landscape backgrounds, and mythological and religious subjects.

During the 1530s Titian's fame spread throughout Europe. In 1530 he first met the emperor Charles V in Bologna and painted a famous portrait of him. Charles was so pleased with it that he appointed Titian court painter and elevated him to the rank of Count Palatine and Knight of the Golden Spur - an unprecedented honor for a painter. At the same time his works were increasingly sought after by Italian princes. His influence on later artists has been profound: he was supreme in every branch of painting and revolutionized the oil technique with his free and expressive brushwork.

During the course of his long life, Titian's artistic manner changed drastically but he retained a lifelong interest in color. Although his mature works may not contain the vivid, luminous tints of his early pieces, their loose brushwork and subtlety of polychromatic modulations are without precedent in the history of Western art. His painting methods would exercise a profound influence not only on painters of the Italian Renaissance, but on future generations of Western art. His greatness as an artist was not matched by his character, for he was notoriously avaricious. In spite of his wealth and status, he claimed he was impoverished, and his exaggerations about his age (by which he hoped to pull at the heartstrings of patrons) are one of the sources of confusion about his birthdate.