Painting Venus and the Lute Player
Artist:Titian (Italian, Pieve di Cadore ca. 1485/90?–1576 Venice)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:65 x 82 1/2 in. (165.1 x 209.6 cm)
CreditLine: Munsey Fund, 1936
Source:Onview at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 607
Venusand the Lute Player is one of Titian`s paintings on the subject ofVenus. In the ancient times, Venus was believed to be a goddess whorepresented the perfect beauty of a woman. In his painting, Titianwas trying to elaborate further the theme of Venus and musician.
Aninnocent child is lifting a plate of water and is trying to pourwater on Venus’ hair. The painting depicts love and music. Venushas paused, listening to music while Cupid crowns her. The paintingis thought to be addressing the Neo-Platonic debate of seeing andhearing as the principal means that people used to perceive beauty(Sorabella, 2011).
Poetryand music are ways of expressing love. The Lute Player is showinglove to Venus. The painting, as it can be seen, portrays a brightpictorial summon of Renaissance conventions of courtship. Thepainting has a highly cultivated aesthetic beauty which gives it anerotic appeal. On the left of the canvas, is a musician-courtier,well dressed in a sixteenth-century cloth, singing for his belovedone. It can clearly be seen that the man is so much attracted to thewoman, Venus herself. This is illustratedbythe narrative line that extends from the left to right, as the mangives a fervent glance in the direction the woman’s head. The womanlooks upwards towards a higher realm. This feature gives the paintingNeplatonic concepts.
Titianis trying to show the power of love that recognizes the variouslevels of that power right from earthly to the heavenly, from humanpassion to divine love. The painting addresses the observer directly.Titian turns the lush nude of the picture frontally for the viewer’spleasure.
Themost Significant Elements
Oneof the most important elements in Titian`s Venus and the Lute Playerpainting is the shape. According to Dewitte (2012), the shape of artrefers to the area that is enclosed within a given area or that canbe recognized due to color or value changes of a picture. The shapeof this painting is a free form. It can be seen that the shape ismedium in size and well colored to make it attractive at firstglance. Using a color that resembles that of a human being, Titianbrings out the beauty of Venus. Titian draws each part of the woman’sbody in a proportional manner.
Thesecond most significant element is the form. Dewitte, Larmann &Shields (2012) describes form as the three-dimensional quality of anobject. Titian`s Venus and the Lute Player painting can be describedas a realistic form.Titianuses colors that are true in real life. The trees and the wholebackground of the painting make it look natural. All features in thepainting are depicted as they would appear in real life. Titian chosecolors that will enhance the natural form. Watching the background,one can tell that Venus and the Lute Player are in mountainouslandscape. Mountains are seen from far, and one can also tell whatthe Lute player is doing while Venus is looking aside, probablylistening to the song being played.
Thelast element is the color. The color is composed of three commoncharacteristics comprising tone, value, and concentration. Titiandesired to engage the audience and therefore used a precise, richcolor combination to draw and play with the viewer’s eyes.Interestingly, the artists paired color composition of the outdoorbackground aids to capture the attention of the viewers to theinternal activity. The outside backdrop denotes a bright color whilethe interior space gives a warm intensity as shown in Venusmagnificent skin glow matched with the polish of the velvet draperyabove them making the scene amazingly beautiful. The color in thiscontext is portraying certain information to the viewer. In thepainting, we can see a piece of white garment next to Venus skin.This would automatically suggest that it is an innerwear because ofits color, positioning, and its quality. The precise blend of thecolor qualities and its casual approach seeks to characterizesensuality and a more natural tone.
Theprinciples of artwork aid to describe the different ways in whichartists use the elements of art their work. The three principles ofdesign used in art pieces above are the emphasis, rhythm, and unity.The principle of emphasis is one of the elements of paint work thatstands out more than the rest. It is used to infer the sense ofsignificance and is used to communicate a particular message. InTitians painting piece of Venus and the Lute Player, his mostsignificant principle is on emphasis. His most important message is aform of love celebration. He relies on the idealization of the beautyof the nude goddess. He achieves this by including a male gaze. Hisgaze is directed towards Venus body part i.e. the breasts which isalso meant to invite the audience to the gaze. This implies thatVenus is viewed as a sexual desire and may also symbolize fertilityfor the man.
Thenext principle is the rhythm. The flowing rhythm is meant to create aparticular movement. It also makes the design look more active(Dewitte, Larmann, & Shields, 2012).Titian uses a rhythmic pattern to guide the audience eyes through hispaint work. When we first look at the artwork, we can identify a man,gazing at something. When we follow this gaze, we find that he islooking at a woman i.e. Venus. We then see that his gaze is directedat the woman`s nudity. The random rhythm created an interest for usto follow him along with the gaze.
Thelast principle is the unity. Unity is used to blend differentelements so that they relate to each other to make an integrated part(Dewitte,Larmann,& Shields, 2012).To enhance a high quality of oneness which can only be attainedthrough practical application of the elements and principles ofdesign, the arrangement forms a completeness outlook. Titian`spainting seeks to create unison between the man`s gaze and thewoman`s nudity state while accentuating the vibrant colors, drapery,music, and outdoor landscape to encourage a seductive and sensualmood.
Toconclude, Titian`s artwork is full of rich and deep experience. Greathighlights of symbolism are involved in the painting. To emphasize onfantasy, the beauty of music and visualization, Titian incorporates aman to gaze on the woman`s nudity. The most important elements usedare color, form, and shape. Titian manages to draw the viewer`sattention by emphasizing on these three elements. The nudity of thewoman may be used to symbolize femininity which paints the picture ofbeauty. In the historical times, Venus was often viewed as a goddessof sexuality and sweetheart. She was portrayed as a woman who hadeverything an ideal and beautiful woman should have.
Throughthe Renaissance, Venus – a title given to a lady who is symbolizedas a unique form of beauty was no longer referred to as a goddess(Sorabella,2011).An in-depth examination of the painting helps us identify how artistsused various feature including color, shape and form to capture theattention of audiences to the sexualized body of Venus. Likewise,they can guide the audience eyes to take part in supporting the malegaze in the direction of the female nude body parts. The culturetoday is composed of women who attempt to display their femininityand nudity and to venerate their bodies for everyone to gaze on withpromises for more scenes. This has turned women into representationsof sexual desire.
Dewitte,D. J., Larmann, R. M., & Shields, M. K. (2012). Gatewaysto Art: Understanding the Visual Arts.Thames & Hudson.
Sorabella,J. (2011). The Nude in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. HeilbrunnTimeline of Art History.