Tales from Ovid’s Metamorphoses inspired Titian to paint what he called poesie, or poetry in paint. Here, Venus tries to stop her lover from departing for the hunt, fearing—correctly—that he would be killed. The mood of sensuality, conveyed by the beautiful depiction of Venus, seen from the back, enhances the viewer’s sense of the tragic end to this story, expressed through their exchanged glances and the frightened Cupid. Titian’s workshop made multiple versions of this composition, but this one is of exceptional quality and was painted by Titian himself.
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Fig. 1. X-radiograph
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Fig. 2. Painting in frame: overall
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Fig. 3. Painting in frame: corner
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Fig. 4. Painting in frame: angled corner
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Fig. 5. Profile drawing of frame. W 5 3/16 in. 13.2 cm (T. Newbery)
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Title:Venus and Adonis
Artist:Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) (Italian, Pieve di Cadore ca. 1485/90?–1576 Venice)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:42 x 52 1/2 in. (106.7 x 133.4 cm)
Credit Line:The Jules Bache Collection, 1949
The Artist: Titian was born in the village of Pieve di Cadore, in the Dolomite Mountains roughly seventy miles to the north of Venice, where he must have come at a young age. He studied with Gentile Bellini and Giovanni Bellini, and by 1508 he was working with Giorgione on the fresco decoration of the facade of the new Fondaco dei Tedeschi, the warehouse of the German merchant colony at the foot of the Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal. By the time he completed the Assumption of the Virgin for the high altar of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari—in the late teens of the sixteenth century—he was recognized as the leading master in Venice. Titian is known not only for his religious paintings but also as an incisive portraitist and poetic interpreter of mythological subjects. In addition to church and private Venetian patrons, he was engaged to work for the Gonzaga court at Ferrara, for Pope Paul III, and for Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. In the 1550s, while living in Venice, he became, in effect, court painter to Philip II of Spain. He had a busy workshop engaged upon his many enterprises. Titian was the greatest colorist of the mid-sixteenth century, and while his palette darkened over time, he achieved an unparalleled breadth of handling. He lived a very long life, developing a mature style of profound humanity. He died much revered in Venice, and is regarded as one of the leading masters of European art.
The Picture: The goddess Venus is shown seated and viewed from the back, her upper body and face turned toward her human lover, Adonis, whom she beseeches not to leave. He is about to depart with his two dogs on what will prove to be a fateful hunt for the Caleydonian boar. He gazes back at her, the lance in his right hand signaling his resolve. Behind a hillock in the left of the composition is shown a frightened Cupid who protectively clasps a dove. One of the most popular themes of Renaissance painting, the theme of Venus and Adonis derives from Ovid's Metamorphoses (book X), an important Italian version of which was made by Titian's friend Lodovico Dolce (1508/10–1568), with interpolations that had an echo in Ovidian paintings for the next two centuries. The story turns on the goddess's fears that her lover will be killed, which in fact is what happens, whereupon Venus sprinkles his blood with nectar, from which grow anemones. The myth, then, is an admonitory story about love.
Titian's Treatment of the Theme: The theme of Adonis's departure from Venus was treated by Titian and his workshop many times over the course of his career in a constant variation. But these variants can be broken down into two main groups, understood to derive from a picture done on commission in 1447 for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese and another painted for Philip II of Spain in the 1550s (Wethey 1975, Bayer 2005, and Penny 2008). The Farnese picture is lost but its composition is recorded in an engraving published in 1779 by Robert Strange; Philip II’s picture is in the Prado. The various treatments differ in details and vary in size, the famous picture in the Prado being large and squarish, The Met's painting being smaller and having a more horizontal format. More recently, in a detailed analysis of all the surviving pictures and derivations, Turner and Joannides (2016) have posited that the first formulation of the composition was likely to have been a painting for Alfonso d'Este, duke of Ferrara, in the 1520s—about the time that Titian was involved on his famous Bacchic canvases for the duke's camerino (Museo del Prado, Madrid, and National Gallery, London). The appearance of this lost picture is evidently recorded in a miniature by Peter Oliver (Burghley House, Stamford). In it, the two main figures are posed as in The Met's painting but with these differences: Adonis does not hold a lance but embraces Venus with his right arm; Venus is nude except for a small piece of drapery over her right thigh; and the dog at the far right stands still and looks back, with the leashes hanging limp. (This composition recurs in a picture by a follower of Titian in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, destroyed in 1945.) Turner and Joannides note that Titian's visual source for the pose of Venus may have been a Classical relief owned in the fifteenth century by the sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti and much admired by Alfonso, who attempted to purchase it. The subject of the ancient relief is Psyche discovering Cupid, but it was known in the Renaissance as the Bed of Polyclitus and is found on reliefs and gems (Panofsky 1969, Rosand 1975, and Wethey 1975). The goddess’s twisted pose is emblematic of her conflicted state, as she pleads with her lover not to leave. Turner and Joannides have christened this initial composition the "tender" interpretation to differentiate it from the next iteration, in which Adonis no longer embraces Venus but holds a lance, signifying his resolve to depart, and the dog no longer looks back but tugs at his leash, eager for the hunt. This more "abrupt" interpretation (Turner and Joannides) was possibly first explored around 1540 in a now-lost painting that is recorded in a 1610 engraving by Raphael Saedler. Further, minor variations—so Turner and Joannides argue—were then introduced in the large painting that was commissioned from Titian in Venice in 1547 by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (probably for his brother Ottavio Farnese) but which has also been lost. The Met's composition belongs to this "Farnese" type, with two dogs (an alternative composition has three) and the frightened infant Cupid embracing a dove. (A painting in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, is derived from the same source.) In the Prado version, dating from the 1550s, larger and squarish in shape, the frightened Cupid is replaced by a youthful Cupid sprawled out on a hill at the upper left, Adonis's shoulders are covered and a bow and quiver hang from a tree, a third dog is included, and Venus’s carriage appears in a sunburst in the upper right. (Additional clothing or drapery seems to have been added with the progression from one iteration to the other.)
Date and Attribution: Given the span of perhaps four decades that separates the earliest from the latest versions of the theme, it is clear that Titian maintained in his workshop one or more templates that could be used to generate variations and workshop replicas. Two candidates for such templates—painted on canvas and incorporating all the changes found in the various versions (visible in x-rays)—have been identified (see Turner and Joannides 2016). In this manner, Titian had a record of his previous treatment of the theme that was progressively updated as he changed the particulars. A similar manner of production lies behind The Met's Venus and the Lute Player (36.29) and formed part of the activity of Titian's busy workshop as it met market demand. It is important to note that Titian's intervention or participation in the production of each canvas varied and can be judged primarily on a basis of quality. Titian was certainly responsible for the splendid version painted in the 1550s for Philip II (Prado, Madrid), and he seems also to have painted The Met's picture, which on grounds of style is also likely to date from the 1550s. Turner and Joannides provide a chart that lays out in approximate order the changes introduced over time.
Painting and Poetry: The humanistic idea that painting was a form of silent poetry, was famously formulated by the ancient poet Horace (65–8 B.C.): “Ut pictura poesis” (very loosely, poetry is like painting). In his correspondence with Philip II, Titian explicitly referred to his paintings with mythological subjects as “poesie,” thereby embracing this concept. We know that he was associated with the poet/translator/treatise writer Ludovico Dolce (1508/10–1568), whose translations of the Latin myths into the vernacular were much used by artists. However, as Turner and Joannides point out, in the case of Titian the direction of influence may well have gone in both directions. Dolce’s Favola d’Adone, published in Venice in 1547, postdates Titian’s invention, which may well have influenced the poet. But there can be no doubt that in referring to his pictures as poesie Titian set out to imbue his work with the allusive and evocative power characteristic of the written word (Rosand 1972). It has been thought that the myth here may be a metaphor for the cycle of nature through the death of Adonis and his return in the form of a flower. It could also be an allegory of the perils of life guided by fate rather than reason (Gentili 1980).
Ovid, Metamorphoses, book 10:
Ev'n Heav'n itself with all its sweets unsought, Adonis far a sweeter Heav'n is thought. On him [Venus] hangs, and fonds with ev'ry art, And never, never knows from him to part. She, whose soft limbs had only been display'd On rosie beds beneath the myrtle shade, Whose pleasing care was to improve each grace, And add more charms to an unrival'd face, Now buskin'd, like the virgin huntress, goes Thro' woods, and pathless wilds, and mountain-snows With her own tuneful voice she joys to cheer The panting hounds, that chace the flying deer. She runs the labyrinth of fearful hares, But fearless beasts, and dang'rous prey forbears, Hunts not the grinning wolf, or foamy boar, And trembles at the lion's hungry roar. Thee too, Adonis, with a lover's care She warns, if warn'd thou wou'dst avoid the snare, To furious animals advance not nigh, Fly those that follow, follow those that fly; 'Tis chance alone must the survivors save, Whene'er brave spirits will attempt the brave. O! lovely youth! in harmless sports delight; Provoke not beasts, which, arm'd by Nature, fight. For me, if not thy self, vouchsafe to fear; Let not thy thirst of glory cost me dear. Boars know not bow to spare a blooming age; No sparkling eyes can sooth the lion's rage. Not all thy charms a savage breast can move, Which have so deeply touch'd the queen of love. When bristled boars from beaten thickets spring, In grinded tusks a thunderbolt they bring. The daring hunters lions rouz'd devour, Vast is their fury, and as vast their pow'r: Curst be their tawny race! If thou would'st hear What kindled thus my hate, then lend an ear: The wond'rous tale I will to thee unfold, How the fell monsters rose from crimes of old. But by long toils I faint: see! wide-display'd, A grateful poplar courts us with a shade. The grassy turf, beneath, so verdant shows, We may secure delightfully repose. With her Adonis here be Venus blest; And swift at once the grass and him she prest. Then sweetly smiling, with a raptur'd mind, On his lov'd bosom she her head reclin'd, And thus began; but mindful still of bliss, Seal'd the soft accents with a softer kiss… (Translated by Sir Samuel Garth, John Dryden, et al)
Keith Christiansen 2017
Mariscotti family, Palazzo Mariscotti, Rome (until about 1804; sold to Camuccini); [V. Camuccini, Rome, until 1804; sold through James Irvine to Buchanan]; [William Buchanan, London, from 1804]; John Bligh, 4th Earl of Darnley, Cobham Hall, Kent (by 1816–d. 1831); Earls of Darnley, Cobham Hall (1831–1900); Ivo Francis Walter Bligh, 8th Earl of Darnley, Cobham Hall (1900–25; his sale, Christie's, London, May 1, 1925, no. 79, for £2,415 to Knoedler); [Knoedler, London and New York, and Colnaghi, London; 1925–27; sold for $80,000 to Bache]; Jules S. Bache, New York (1927–d. 1944; his estate, 1944–49; cats., 1929, unnumbered; 1937, no. 17; 1943, no. 16)
London. British Institution. 1816, no. 125 (as "Adonis going to the Chace," lent by the Earl of Darnley).
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Winter Exhibition," 1876, no. 119 (as "Venus and Adonis," lent by the Earl of Darnley).
Detroit Institute of Arts. "Sixth Loan Exhibition of Old Masters: Paintings by Titian," February 1–15, 1928, no. 19 (lent by Mr. Jules Bache, New York).
Art Gallery of Toronto. "Loan Exhibition of Paintings," November 1–December 1, 1935, no. 26 (lent by Jules S. Bache, Esq., New York).
San Francisco. California Palace of the Legion of Honor. "Venetian Painting," June 25–July 24, 1938, no. 71 (lent by the Bache Collection, New York).
New York. World's Fair. "Masterpieces of Art: European Paintings and Sculpture from 1300–1800," May–October 1939, no. 384 (lent by the Jules S. Bache collection, New York).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Bache Collection," June 16–September 30, 1943, no. 16.
Stockholm. Nationalmuseum. "Konstens Venedig," October 20, 1962–February 10, 1963, no. 97.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Venetian Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum," May 1–September 2, 1974, no catalogue.
Leningrad [St. Petersburg]. State Hermitage Museum. "100 Paintings from the Metropolitan Museum," May 22–July 27, 1975, no. 4.
Moscow. State Pushkin Museum. "100 Paintings from the Metropolitan Museum," August 28–November 2, 1975, no. 4.
Athens. National Pinakothiki, Alexander Soutzos Museum. "Treasures from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Memories and Revivals of the Classical Spirit," September 24–December 31, 1979, no. 42.
Washington. National Gallery of Art. "Titian: Prince of Painters," October 28, 1990–January 27, 1991, no. 60.
Paris. Grand Palais. "Le siècle de Titien: L'âge d'or de la peinture à Venise," March 9–June 14, 1993, no. 256.
Braunschweig. Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum. "Amors Pfeil: Tizian und die Erotik in der Kunst," September 4–November 9, 2003, no. 15.
Brisbane. Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art. "European Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," June 12–October 17, 2021, unnumbered cat.
Osaka. Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts. "European Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," November 13, 2021–January 16, 2022.
Tokyo. National Art Center. "European Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," February 9–May 30, 2022.
James Irvine. Letter to William Buchanan. June 30, 1804 [published in Ref. Buchanan 1824], writes from Rome that he has bought the picture for Buchanan from "the younger Camuccini," who bought it from the Mariscotti palace; as by Titian.
W[illiam]. Buchanan. Memoirs of Painting, with a Chronological History of the Importation of Pictures by the Great Masters into England since the French Revolution. London, 1824, vol. 1, p. 123; vol. 2, p. 153, as in the collection of the Earl of Darnley; publishes the letter from Irvine to Buchanan with details of its acquisition [see Ref. Irvine 1804].
[Gustav Friedrich] Waagen. Treasures of Art in Great Britain. London, 1854, vol. 3, pp. 18–19, as at Cobham Hall, in the collection of the earl of Darnley.
G[iovanni].-B[attista]. Cavalcaselle and J[oseph].-A[rcher]. Crowe. Tiziano, la sua vita e i suoi tempi. Vol. 2, repr., 1974. Florence, 1878, pp. 95–96 [English ed., "The Life and Times of Titian," 2 vols., London, 1881, vol. 2, pp. 151–52], call it a mediocre copy or imitation by a later artist of the version formerly in the Farnese collection (now lost).
Casimir Stryienski. La Galerie du Régent Philippe, duc d'Orléans. Paris, 1913, p. 46.
August L. Mayer. "Tizianstudien." Münchner Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst, n.s., 2 (1925), pp. 276–79, fig. 7, as with Knoedler, London and New York.
Frank E. Washburn Freund. "Paintings by Titian in America." International Studio 90 (May 1928), p. 39, ill. p. 41, dates it about 1555; calls it superior in some ways to the version in the Prado.
Frank E. Washburn Freund. "Leih-Ausstellungen in Amerikanischen Museen." Der Cicerone 20 (1928), p. 258, ill. p. 256.
Walter Heil. "The Jules Bache Collection." Art News 27 (April 27, 1929), pp. 3–4.
A Catalogue of Paintings in the Collection of Jules S. Bache. New York, 1929, unpaginated, ill.
August L. Mayer. "Die Sammlung Jules Bache in New-York." Pantheon 6 (December 1930), p. 542.
Ludwig Burchard inUnknown Masterpieces in Public and Private Collections. Ed. Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Vol. 1, London, 1930, unpaginated, under no. 24, assigns it to the second, later, group of paintings of this subject, along with the Washington picture, which he believes to be the last of all the versions.
Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 573.
Wilhelm Suida. "Tizians 'Kind mit der Taube'." Belvedere 11 (July–December 1932), p. 166, fig. 147, groups it with the Washington version and a smaller example in a private collection, Paris.
Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 493.
A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. under revision. New York, 1937, unpaginated, no. 17, ill.
A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. rev. ed. New York, 1943, unpaginated, no. 16, ill.
Hans Tietze. Titian: The Paintings and Drawings. 2nd, rev. ed. London, 1950, p. 402, calls it a studio replica of the Washington painting.
Edoardo Arslan. Letter. April 21, 1952, calls it a school work.
Rodolfo Pallucchini. Tiziano: Lezioni tenute alla Facoltà di Lettere dell'Università di Bologna durante l'Anno 1953–54. Bologna, [1953–54], vol. 2, p. 77, attributes it to Titian and dates it after 1560.
Josephine L. Allen and Elizabeth E. Gardner. A Concise Catalogue of the European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1954, p. 96.
Hans Tietze. "An Early Version of Titian's Danae: An Analysis of Titian's Replicas." Arte veneta 8 (1954), p. 202, tentatively suggests that the smaller versions of the composition, including this one, may be studio replicas by Orazio Vecellio.
Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Venetian School. London, 1957, vol. 1, p. 189; vol. 2, pl. 997.
Cecil Gould. The Sixteenth-Century Venetian School. London, 1959, pp. 99–100, under no. 34, dates it after 1554, later than the Prado painting; discusses in detail the two groups of versions and the issues connected with their provenance and dating.
Francesco Valcanover. Tutta la pittura di Tiziano. Milan, 1960, vol. 2, pp. 44–45, pl. 91 [English ed., "All the Paintings of Titian," New York, 1960, vol. 3, p. 47, pl. 91].
Erwin Panofsky. Problems in Titian, Mostly Iconographic. New York, 1969, p. 151 n. 34, suggests that Venus's pose derives from the Roman relief of Psyche and Cupid known as the "Bed of Polyclitus" (Hewett collection, Ashford, Kent), by way of the figure of Hebe in Raphael's "Marriage of Psyche" (Villa Farnesina, Rome).
Francesco Valcanover inL'opera completa di Tiziano. repr., 1978. Milan, 1969, p. 129, no. 428, ill. p. 128, attributes it to Titian with assistants and dates it 1560 or later.
Rodolfo Pallucchini. Tiziano. Florence, 1969, vol. 1, pp. 142, 315; vol. 2, pl. 475, dates it about 1560–65.
Harald Keller. Tizians Poesie für König Philipp II von Spanien. Wiesbaden, 1969, p. 191, calls it a copy after the Washington painting.
Calvin Tomkins. Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, p. 316 [rev., enl. ed., 1989].
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 202, 475, 608.
David Rosand. "'Ut Pictor Poeta': Meaning in Titian's 'Poesie'." New Literary History 3, no. 3 (1972), p. 539 n. 31, calls the MMA and Washington paintings "smaller format studio variants of the composition"; further explores the influence of the "Bed of Polyclitus" on the composition [see Ref. Panofsky 1969].
Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Venetian School. New York, 1973, pp. 81–82, pl. 95, state that "although some parts, especially areas in the landscape, are too weak to have been painted by Titian himself, the major part, including the three figures, can be considered his work"; date the MMA and Washington paintings to the late 1560s.
Harold E. Wethey. The Paintings of Titian. Vol. 3, The Mythological and Historical Paintings. London, 1975, pp. 59, 192–93, no. 43, pl. 97, attributes it to Titian and workshop and dates it about 1560–65.
David Rosand. "Titian and the 'Bed of Polyclitus'." Burlington Magazine 117 (April 1975), p. 245 n. 17.
Sylvia Hochfield. "Conservation: The Need is Urgent." Art News 75 (February 1976), pp. 32–33.
Fern Rusk Shapley. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. Washington, 1979, vol. 1, pp. 493, 495 n. 6, states that the MMA and Washington paintings are "both attributed to Titian and studio and both believed to date in the mid-1560s".
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, p. 276, fig. 505.
Fritz Heinemann Università degli Studi di Venezia. "La bottega di Tiziano." Tiziano e Venezia. Vicenza, 1980, p. 437, attributes it to Orazio Vecellio.
Jaynie Anderson. "Giorgione, Titian and the Sleeping Venus." Tiziano e Venezia. Vicenza, 1980, p. 339 n. 22, calls the MMA and Washington paintings workshop variants of the lost Farnese picture.
Augusto Gentili. Da Tiziano a Tiziano: mito e allegoria nella cultura veneziana del Cinquecento. Milan, 1980, pp. 115–16, 215 nn. 16, 17, fig. 72, attributes it to Titian with the collaboration of assistants and dates it to the end of the 1560s.
David Alan Brown inTitian: Prince of Painters. Exh. cat., Palazzo Ducale. Venice, 1990, pp. 328–30, no. 60, ill. (color), states that cleaning in 1976 revealed that the picture is in large part executed by Titian himself, and that the palette is typical of his work of the 1560s.
Colnaghi in America: A Survey to Commemorate the First Decade of Colnaghi New York. Ed. Nicholas H. J. Hall. New York, 1992, p. 131.
Marjorie E. Wieseman inThe Age of Rubens. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston, 1993, p. 586, under no. 127, calls it a replica of the Prado painting.
Francesco Valcanover inLe siècle de Titien: L'âge d'or de la peinture à Venise. Exh. cat., Grand Palais. Paris, 1993, pp. 616–17, no. 256, ill. pp. 238 (color) and 616 [2nd ed., rev. and corr., 1993, pp. 672–73, no. 256, ill. pp. 238 (color) and 672], following the cleaning in 1976, finds that the painting is superior to the version in Washington, mostly by Titian with minimal studio assistance, and dates from 1560–65.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 79, ill.
Rona Goffen. Titian's Women. New Haven, 1997, pp. 248, 250, 314 n. 110, fig. 146.
Bruce D. Sutherland. "A Subtle Allusion in Titian's 'Venus and Adonis' Paintings." Venezia Cinquecento 9 (January–June 1999), pp. 37–38, 42, 46, 49, 51 nn. 16, 18, fig. 4, proposes that in his versions of this subject Titian intentionally positioned Adonis's spear over Venus's breast in order to allude to the "arrow pierced heart".
Maria Agnese Chiari Moretto Wiel in Filippo Pedrocco. Titian. New York, 2001, pp. 228, 260, no. 216, ill. (color).
Old Master Paintings: Part One. Sotheby's, London. July 10, 2003, p. 12, under no. 4, calls it a "partially autograph variant" of the lost Farnese painting.
Mila Horký. Amors Pfeil: Tizian und die Erotik in der Kunst. Exh. cat., Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum. Braunschweig, 2003, pp. 10, 13, 18, 60–62, 64, 66, 68, 79, 85, 97, no. 15, colorpl. III, ill. p. 60 and on front and back covers (color details).
David Rosand. "Inventing Mythologies: The Painter's Poetry." The Cambridge Companion to Titian. Ed. Patricia Meilman. Cambridge, 2004, p. 292 n. 24.
Meryle Secrest. Duveen: A Life in Art. New York, 2004, pp. 306–7.
Linda Borean. Lettere artistiche del Settecento veneziano. Vol. 2, Il carteggio Giovanni Maria Sasso - Abraham Hume. Verona, 2004, p. 227 n. 185.
Andrea Bayer. "North of the Apennines: Sixteenth-Century Italian Painting in Venice and the Veneto." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 63 (Summer 2005), pp. 12, 14–15, fig. 11 (color), ill. on cover (color detail), suggests that Titian based the composition not directly on Ovid, but on a retelling of the story by the Spanish writer Diego Hurtado de Mendoza published in Venice in 1553.
Nicholas Penny. The Sixteenth Century Italian Paintings. Vol. 2, Venice 1540–1600. London, 2008, pp. 277, 283, 289 n. 19, p. 291 nn. 69–70, pp. 449, 451 n. 16, thoroughly discusses all the versions of the composition, calling the MMA painting partly autograph.
Giorgio Tagliaferro et al. Le botteghe di Tiziano. Florence, 2009, p. 220 n. 53.
Freyda Spira inDürer and Beyond: Central European Drawings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1400–1700. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2012, pp. 155–56 n. 6, fig. 2 (color), under no. 70.
Frederick Ilchman. "Questioning Connoisseurship: The Other Late Titian in Boston." Venetian Painting Matters, 1450–1750. Ed. Jodi Cranston. Turnhout, Belgium, 2015, pp. 106, 111 n. 62.
Maria Ruvoldt. "Titian's Choice." Venetian Painting Matters, 1450–1750. Ed. Jodi Cranston. Turnhout, Belgium, 2015, pp. 70, 73, fig. 4.
Kathryn Calley Galitz. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Masterpiece Paintings. New York, 2016, p. 278, no. 193, ill. pp. 194, 278 (color).
Jane Shoaf Turner and Paul Joannides. "Titian's Rokeby 'Venus and Adonis' and the Role of Working Templates within his Development of the Theme." Studi Tizianeschi 9 (2016), pp. 48, 55, 57–58, 72–74 n. 6, figs. 4, 12 (overall and marked-up x-ray showing initial lay-in).
Vittoria Markova inVenezia rinascimento: Tiziano, Tintoretto, Veronese. Exh. cat., Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. Moscow, 2017, pp. 174, 176–77, under no. 4.
Matthias Wivel inTitian: Love, Desire, Death. Exh. cat., National Gallery. London, 2020, pp. 127–28, 130, as a partly autograph painting from the 1560s.
Katharine Baetjer inEuropean Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Exh. cat., Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art. South Brisbane, 2021, pp. 101, 233, ill. pp. 11, 100 (color, overall and detail).
Chris Saines inEuropean Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Exh. cat., Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art. South Brisbane, 2021, p. 44, ill. (color detail).
The frame is from Venice and dates to about 1560 (see figs. 2–5 above). This rare giltwood frame with its original pale leaf is made of pine and adorned with a close succession of carved ornament which emanates from a center point. The acanthus and pearling at the sight edge rise to an animated top edge. Raking cabled flutes with shadowed hollows punctuated with pearls fall back to tassled swags. The back edge is carved in running acanthus leaves also punctuated with pearls, and the corner acanthus leaves’ spines are formed with a row of tapered pearling. Diagonal cuts on the vertical sides to resize the frame skillfully retain the intervals in the elegant ornament.
Timothy Newbery with Cynthia Moyer 2016; further information on this frame can be found in the Department of European Paintings files
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