At the core of Renaissance art is the revival of the classical past, and in his Venus with a Mirror, Titian revealed both his appreciation of antiquity and his remarkable modernity. During a sojourn in Rome he wrote that he was "learning from the marvelous ancient stones" that were being unearthed daily in the city. Indeed, he based the gesture of the goddess, her hands held to her breast and lap, on a famous Roman statue of Venus that later belonged to the Medici.
Yet Titian breathed a warmth and life into the remote source to conjure a startlingly immediate and sensual modern Venus. Her pliant flesh seems to melt at the touch of the cupid who strains to bestow on her the crown of love. While she pulls about her a wine–colored velvet wrap lined in fur, soft, opulent, and evoking the sense of touch, Venus reveals her body as much as she conceals it. The beautiful woman gazing at her reflection is a favorite theme of Renaissance love poetry in which the writer envies the fortunate mirror that enjoys his lady's splendid image.
Marks and Labels
The artist [c. 1490-1576], Venice; by inheritance to his son, Pomponio Vecellio, Venice; sold 1581 with the contents of Titian's house to Cristoforo Barbarigo, Venice; by inheritance to his son, Andrea Barbarigo; by inheritance in the Barbarigo family, Venice; sold c. 1850 to Czar Nicholas I of Russia [d. 1855], Saint Petersburg; Imperial Hermitage Gallery, St. Petersburg; purchased April 1931 through (Matthiesen Gallery, Berlin; P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., London; and M. Knoedler & Co., New York) by Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.; deeded 5 June 1931 to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift 1937 to NGA.
- Venetian Painting: Giovanni Bellini to Early El Greco, Los Angeles Museum of Art, 1979-1980.
- Tiziano [NGA title: Titian: Prince of Painters], Palazzo Ducale, Venice; National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1990-1991, no. 51, repro.
- Le Siècle de Titien: L'âge d'or de la peinture à Venise, Galeries du Grand Palais, Paris, 1993, no. 178, 586-587, repro. 171, as Vénus à sa toilette.
- Nicholas I and the New Hermitage, The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2002, unnumbered catalogue.
- Tiziano/Rubens. Venus ante el espejo, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, 2002-2003, no. 2, repro.
- Der späte Tizian und die Sinnlichkeit der Malerei / Tiziano maturo e la sensualità della pittura, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice, 2007-2008, no. 2.5 (shown only in Vienna).
- Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Musée du Louvre, Paris, 2009-2010, no. 30 (no. 29 in French catalogue), repro.
- Wrangell, Baron Nicolas. Les Chefs-d'Oeuvre de la Galérie de Tableaux de l'Hermitage Impérial à St-Pétersbourg. London, 1909: repro. 21.
- Tietze, Hans. Meisterwerke europäischer Malerei in Amerika. Vienna, 1935: 87, repro. (English ed., Masterpieces of European Painting in America. New York, 1939: 88, repro.).
- Cortissoz, Royal. An Introduction to the Mellon Collection. Boston, 1937: repro. 8.
- Jewell, Edward Alden. "Mellon's Gift." Magazine of Art 30, no. 2 (February 1937): 82.
- Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 196, no. 34.
- Book of Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 239, repro. 199.
- Favorite Paintings from the National Gallery of Art Washington, D.C.. New York, 1946: 33-35, color repro.
- Paintings and Sculpture from the Mellon Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1949 (reprinted 1953 and 1958): 38, repro.
- Einstein, Lewis. Looking at Italian Pictures in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1951: 84-86, repro.
- Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Great Paintings from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1952: 60, color repro.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1956: 28, color repro.
- Shapley, Fern Rusk. Comparisons in Art: A Companion to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. London, 1957 (reprinted 1959): pl. 47
- Shapley, Fern Rusk. Later Italian Painting in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., 1960 (Booklet Number Six in Ten Schools of Painting in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.): 30, color repro.
- The National Gallery of Art and Its Collections. Foreword by Perry B. Cott and notes by Otto Stelzer. National Gallery of Art, Washington (undated, 1960s): 26, color repro. 12.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 148, repro.
- Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 129
- Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 1:172, color repro.
- Walton, William. "Parnassus on Potomac." Art News 65 (March 1966): 38.
- European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 116, repro.
- Shapley, Fern Rusk. "Titian's Venus with a Mirror." Studies in the History of Art v.4 (1971-72):93-105, repro.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 344, repro.
- Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1979: I:476-480, II:pl. 341, 341A,B,C
- Watson, Ross. The National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1979: 39, pl. 24.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 208, no. 253, color repro.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 395, repro.
- Gingold, Diane J. and Elizabeth A.C. Weil. The Corporate Patron. New York, 1991: 90-91, color repro.
- Kopper, Philip. America's National Gallery of Art: A Gift to the Nation. New York, 1991: 91, 94, color repro.
- National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 102, repro.
- Echols, Robert. "Titian's Venetian Soffitti: Sources and Transformations." Studies in the History of Art 45 (1993):20.
- Stokstad, Marilyn. Art History. New York, 1995: 706, fig. 18.28.
- Goffen, Rona. Titian's Women. 1997: no. 79, repro.
- Santore, Cathy. "The Tools of Venus." in Renaissance Studies Vol. 11 Nol 3. The Society for Renaissance Studies, Oxford University Press, 1997: 185, repro. no. 7.
- Apostolos-Cappadona, Diana. “Toilet Scenes." In Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art. Edited by Helene E. Roberts. 2 vols. Chicago, 1998: 2:873.
- Cheney, Liana de Girolami. "Love and Death." In Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art, edited by Helene E. Roberts. 2 vols. Chicago, 1998: 1:523.
- Medievalia et Humanistica: Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Culture. [Vol. 25]. Edited by Paul Maurice Clogan. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1998: 58-61, repro. no. 2.
- Roberts, Helene E., ed. Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art. 2 vols. Chicago, 1998: 1:324, 326.
- Shefer, Elaine. "Mirror/Reflection." In Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art, edited by Helene E. Roberts. 2 vols. Chicago, 1998: 2:602.
- Pedrocco, Filippo. Titian: The Complete Paintings. London, 2001: no. 218, repro.
- Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 100-101, no. 77, color repro.
- Odom, Anne, and Wendy R. Salmond, eds. Treasures into Tractors: The Selling of Russia's Cultural Heritage, 1918-1938. Washington, D.C., 2009:
- Paglia, Camille. Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars. New York, 2012: 48-51, color repro.
- Reist, Inge. "The Classical Tradition: Mythology and Allegory." In Paolo Veronese: A Master and His Workshop in Renaissance Venice, edited by Virginia Brilliant. Exh. cat. Sarasota, 2012. London, 2012: 117, 118, color fig. 43
- Frank, Mary Engel. “'Donne attempate': Women of a Certain Age in Sixteenth-Century Venetian Art.” 2 vols. Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 2006: 1:64-106, 303, 305, 306, fig. 46, 67, 77.
Work of Art
Work of Art
- Event Name
- March 1–June 1
- Mon, Tues, and Wed at 1:00
- March 5, 2012 at 2:00
March 7, 2012 at 4:00
- East Building, Auditorium
- Name of docent
- 60 minutes
- Registration for this event begins on April 1, 2012 at noon.
- Download the program notes (100k)
- Italian Collection