Venus and the Lute Player

Titian Italian

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 608

Venus, the goddess of love, interrupts her music making to be crowned with a wreath of flowers by Cupid. An admiring, well-dressed youth playing the lute—the quintessential instrument for love madrigals—gazes at her raptly. In the background nymphs and satyrs dance to the music of a shepherd. Titian and his followers were known for capturing the complex personalities of female subjects. In this painting, Venus is more than an object of desire. In her devastatingly confident pose, she becomes a symbol of the power of women over men. Titian painted this amatory theme multiple times. This one was left unfinished except for the landscape background, which is fully painted by the artist.

Venus and the Lute Player, Titian (Italian, Pieve di Cadore ca. 1485/90?–1576 Venice) and Workshop, Oil on canvas

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