Titian, Pieta, 1576
NUDE OF THE WEEK: Titian, Venus of Urbino, 1538
One of my absolute favourite nudes, and one that paved the way for many to come (most obviously, Manet’s Olympia).
Titian, c.1538, Portrait of Eleonora Gonzaga
Titian, 1559, Diana and Actaeon
Gypsy Madonna by Titian, 1512
Mary Magdalene by Titian, 1560s. This is the later version of Titian’s representation of Mary Magdalene, the key difference being that Mary’s breasts are covered in this image. Her facial expression is much more sorrowful here as well, with tears being clearly visible in her eyes.
c.1300 - c.1450 (early), c.1450 - c.1550 (high)
The term ‘renaissance’ refers to a ‘rebirth’ or ‘revival’ of ideas, beliefs, standards and interests, a concept found profusely throughout Europe from the 14th to the 16th century. The Renaissance is most associated with the development and prominence of Italian art, especially in the Northern cities of Florence and Venice, (the Northern Renaissance refers primarily to the art from Germany, the Netherlands, France and England). This was a time where concerns and passions changed dramatically; people began to seek pleasure in the arts as a form of collection, extroversion and national pride.
The period begins roughly at the start of the 14th century, with painters such as Giotto and Masaccio. The sculptors Donatello and Lorenzo Ghiberti, the architects Filippo Brunelleschi and Michelozzo, and the painters Botticelli and Benozzo Gozzoli characterise the middle stage of the Renaissance, with the ruling Medici family patronage. Prominent artists of the Northern Renaissance include Albrecht Durer, Hans Holbein, Hieronymous Bosch, Jan van Eyck and the Brueghel dynasty. The High Renaissance is defined by the masters of anatomical depiction; artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo and Titian were responsible for directly linking the arts to the sciences. These ideas of new forms of education were also found across the studies of the Renaissance humanists, (other concepts include the teachings of rhetoric, grammar, poetry, mathematics and ancient philosophy). It was a time where the importance and interest in classical antiquity shone through in the arts and in people’s everyday lives.
There are some excellent books available on the Renaissance, but I would suggest checking out Giorgio Vasari’s Renaissance biographies ‘Lives of the Artists’ (posted here a few months ago) and the philosophical work of Nicolo Machiavelli (you can read his infamous piece ‘The Prince’ online here).
The Birth of Venus by Alessandro Botticelli, c.1486
Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, 1503
Venus of Urbino by Titian, 1538
Venus Anadyomene by Titian, c.1525. This isn’t my favourite ‘Venus of the Sea’ image, (and certainly not my favourite Titian!), but I do think the hair is beautifully painted, especially where it blurs into the deep blue waves of the sea. I much prefer this version by French Romanticist painter Theodore Chasseriau.
I thought I’d take the time out to post about the ultimate Renaissance read, described by some as the beginning of art history and one of the greatest biographical works of all time. Giorgio Vasari, who was also a painter himself, wrote his masterpiece ‘Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects’ in 1550, though it is more commonly referred to as the Lives of the Artists. Each chapter is a biography of a Renaissance artist and these are what I would describe as the most significant sections on the most important artists (in chronological and written order):
Cimabue - Giotto - Lorenzo di Bicci - Paolo Uccello - Lorenzo Ghiberti - Masaccio - Filippo Brunelleschi - Donatello - Fra Angelico - Benozzo Gozzoli - Domenico Ghirlandaio - Alessandro Botticelli - Andrea Mantegna - Pietro Perugino - Sofonisba Anguissola - Leonardo da Vinci - Donato Bramante - Raphael - Michelangelo - Titian
Read all of these and you’ll have a pretty good idea about the origins and development of Renaissance art. There are various edited versions available across the web, but it is well worth getting yourself a physical copy, as it is a must have for any art historian or Renaissance enthusiast!
Venus of Urbino by Titian, 1538. Venetian painter Titian, or Tiziano Vecelli, was a master of the Italian High-Renaissance, despite not being as well known in the modern world as Raphael, Leonardo or Michaelangelo. Venus of Urbino is a painting that has inspired a hundred others, whether it be through composition, subject or physical depiction. There is a fantastic article about the painting by Mark Hudson on the Telegraph’s website here.