Venetian, 1488/1490 - 1576
Venus with a Mirror, c. 1555
oil on canvas
overall: 124.5 x 105.5 cm (49 x 41 9/16 in.) framed: 157.48 x 139.07 x 10.8 cm (62 x 54 3/4 x 4 1/4 in.)
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
Object 4 of 7
Perhaps one of the artist's favorite works, this canvas remained in Titian's studio until his death, and it inspired numerous copies and variations. Due to the painting's superior quality, this is the only version that is universally recognized to be entirely the product of Titian's hand alone without contributions from other painters working in his studio.
Venus with a Mirror is a visual feast of rich textures and sumptuous colors. Venus gazes at her reflection in a mirror held aloft by Cupid, while a second putto reaches up to crown her with a wreath of flowers. Raising her left hand to her breast, she draws her fur-lined robe across her lap with her right hand. The deep crimson color of the velvet garment beautifully complements the warm tone of her creamy flesh. The metallic embroidery and gleaming jewels provide textural contrasts to the softness of her fabrics, skin, and hair.
The pose of Titian's goddess recalls that of the classical Venus Pudica. Titian may have seen this work of ancient statuary in Rome when he wrote that he was "learning from the marvelous ancient stones." More than depicting a mythological subject, Titian's painting celebrates the ideal beauty of the female form.
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