Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) and Workshop (Italian, Venetian, ca. 1485/90?–1576)
Oil on canvas
65 x 82 1/2 in. (165.1 x 209.6 cm)
Munsey Fund, 1936 (36.29)
This work is the last of a series of four celebrated paintings by Titian. The two earliest of the group, representing Venus and an organ player (Museo del Prado, Madrid, and Gemäldegalerie, Berlin), date about 1548–55. Venus and the Lute Player is a late work executed about 1565–70 with studio assistance. A somewhat earlier version of the composition is in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. The subject of the paintings has been thought to relate to Neoplatonic ideas about whether beauty is better apprehended through sight or through sound, but it may just as well signify the way music inspires love. From 1718 to 1931, the present painting was owned by the earls of Leicester, Holkham Hall, Norfolk.