The Earlier Work of Titian eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 105 pages of information about The Earlier Work of Titian.
as The Maiden with Venus and Amor at the Well.  The vraisemblance of Herr Wickhoff’s brilliant interpretation becomes the greater when we reflect that Titian at least twice afterwards borrowed subjects from classical antiquity, taking his Worship of Venus, now at Madrid, from the Erotes of Philostratus, and our own wonderful Bacchus and Ariadne at the National Gallery from the Epithalamium Pelei et Thetidos of Catullus.  In the future it is quite possible that the Austrian savant may propose new and precise interpretations for the Three Ages and for Giorgione’s Concert Champetre at the Louvre.

[Illustration:  Herodias with the Head of John the Baptist.  Doria Gallery, Rome.  From the Replica in the Collection of R.H.  Benson, Esq.]

It is no use disguising the fact that, grateful as the true student of Italian art must be for such guidance as is here given, it comes to him at first as a shock that these mysterious creations of the ardent young poet-painters, in the presence of which we have most of us so willingly allowed reason and argument to stand in abeyance, should thus have hard, clear lines drawn, as it were, round their deliciously vague contours.  It is their very vagueness and strangeness, the atmosphere of pause and quiet that they bring with them, the way in which they indefinably take possession of the beholder, body and soul, that above and beyond their radiant beauty have made them dear to successive generations.  And yet we need not mourn overmuch, or too painfully set to work to revise our whole conception of Venetian idyllic art as matured in the first years of the Cinquecento.  True, some humanist of the type of Pietro Bembo, not less amorous than learned and fastidious, must have found for Titian and Giorgione all these fine stories from Virgil, Catullus, Statius, and the lesser luminaries of antique poetry, which luckily for the world they have interpreted in their own fashion.  The humanists themselves would no doubt have preferred the more laborious and at the same time more fantastic Florentine fashion of giving plastic form in every particular to their elaborate symbolisms, their artificial conceits, their classic legends.  But we may unfeignedly rejoice that the Venetian painters of the golden prime disdained to represent—­or it may be unconsciously shrank from representing—­the mere dramatic moment, the mere dramatic and historical character of a subject thus furnished to them.  Giorgione embodies in such a picture as the Adrastus and Hypsipyle, or the Aeneas and Evander, not so much what has been related to him of those ancient legends as his own mood when he is brought into contact with them; he transposes his motive from a dramatic into a lyrical atmosphere, and gives it forth anew, transformed into something “rich and strange,” coloured for ever with his own inspired yet so warmly human fantasy.  Titian, in the Sacred and Profane

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The Earlier Work of Titian from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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