Saturday, June 23, 2012

Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Painting

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA), in conjunction with the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS), the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, presented an exhibition of 25 Venetian masterpieces—13 paintings and 12 drawings— including two of the greatest paintings of the Italian Renaissance, Titian’s Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto (1556–59).


Tiziano Vecelli (c. 1485/90–1576) is considered the greatest of all Venetian Renaissance artists. The technical wizardry, narrative skill, and psychological insight he brought to his works have ensured they remain among the most highly prized of all Renaissance masterpieces. Artistically Titian reached full maturity with his commission for the altarpiece Assumption of the Virgin (1528, now at The Frari, Venice). He created a wide variety of works—portraits, mythological scenes, allegories and altarpieces—and painted for the greatest patrons of his age, including Emperor Charles V and King Philip II of Spain. He also worked for the leading families of Venice, Mantua, Ferrara, Urbino, and Rome.

The exhibition also included paintings by Tintoretto, Veronese, and Lotto from the NGS collection.

The MIA’s presentation of “Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Painting: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland” was on view February 6 through May 1, 2011.

As a complement to the Titian exhibition, the MIA presented a small show of important works on paper from the museum’s permanent collection. From Renaissance woodcuts designed by Titian to views of Venice by Canaletto and Whistler, “Venice on Paper” explored the city through the graphic arts, bringing together five centuries of original prints, drawings, books, and photographs, all made in or about this enchanting "floating" city.

Also on view, for the first time since its purchase in December,2010 was the MIA’s magnificent View of Venice map. This Renaissance masterpiece, published in Venice in 1500, is a mural-sized birds-eye view of the city, at the time of Titian’s boyhood. Over nine feet wide, this map reveals the design and dazzling technical skill of Jacopo de’Barbari (Italian, c. 1460/70–before 1516).

In addition to Titian’s famous Diana paintings, “Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Painting: ” showcased 10 other paintings that illuminate the depth of the NGS collection of Venetian Renaissance works.

These include Titian’s Venus Rising from the Sea

Jacopo Bassano’s Adoration of the Magi

Lorenzo Lotto’s Virgin and Child with Saints Jerome, Peter, Francis and an Unidentified Female Saint

Jacopo Tintoretto’s Christ Carried to the Tomb

and Titian’s Virgin and Child with St. John the Baptist and an Unidentified Male Saint.

Diana and Actaeon

Diana and Callisto

The Legendary Diana Paintings - Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto

Originally commissioned by King Phillip II of Spain as part of a series of six paintings, Titian’s Diana paintings were acquired by the Duke of Orleans in the eighteenth century. Following the French Revolution, the paintings entered the private Bridgewater Collection and passed to the Fifth Earl of Ellesmere (later the Sixth Duke of Sutherland), who placed them on long-term loan to the National Galleries of Scotland in 1945.

Titian’s Diana paintings were originally part of a series of six large, mythological pictures made for the king, which included Danaë and Venus and Adonis (both now at The Prado, Madrid), Perseus and Andromeda (Wallace Collection, London), and Rape of Europa (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston). The Diana paintings, completed when Titian was well into his sixties, depict scenes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and represent the Venetian master’s accumulated skill and experience. They were designed as a pair—a stream flows from one painting to the other. The Diana paintings are richer in color and composition than their counterparts in the series.

“These two paintings have long been recognized as among Titian’s very finest creations and as supreme masterpieces of Venetian Renaissance art,” said John Leighton, director of the NGS. “Their ambitious scale, the masterful unity of color and subject matter, the art-historical significance and their excellent condition all contribute to the fame and reputation of these works.”

Exhibition Organization

“Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Painting: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland” was co-organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, in coordination with the National Galleries of Scotland. It debuted at the High and traveled to Minneapolis (February 6 through May 1, 2011), after which it was pn view in Houston (May 21 through August 14, 2011). The exhibition was curated by David Brenneman, the High’s director of collections and exhibitions and Frances B. Bunzl Family Curator of European Art.

It was accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

About the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA), home to one of the finest encyclopedic art collections in the country, houses more than 80,000 works of art representing 5,000 years of world history. Highlights of the permanent collection include European masterworks by Rembrandt, Poussin, and van Gogh; modern and contemporary painting and sculpture by Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian, Stella, and Close; as well as internationally significant collections of prints and drawings, decorative arts, Modernist design, photographs, textiles, and Asian, African, and Native American art. General admission is always free. Some special exhibitions have a nominal admission fee. Museum hours: Sunday, 11 -5 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Monday closed. For more information, call (612) 870-3131 or visit