Wednesday, April 28, 2010

" Venus With A Mirror"

1.Do you think Titian’s inspiration for painting Venus with a Mirror reflected a past experience he had with a woman in his personal life?
2.What other 17th century artist emulated Titian’s painting by reconstructing a similar painting for his own artistic style?
3.What is one other work that Titian painted that closely related to Venus with a Mirror?

Provenance Behind " Venus With A Mirror"

Portrait: Venus with a Mirror composed in 1555.(Titan)

Venus with a Mirror was composed in 1555 by Titian and remained in his studio until he died. The painting has remarkable quality and Titian constructed the painting alone without any help from artists of his time working in the same studio. Thus, Venus with a Mirror also shows visual spectra of “rich textures and sumptuous colors. Venus gazes at her reflection in a mirror held by Cupid, while a second putto reaches up to crown her with a wreath of flowers” (“Titian Late Renaissance”). The painting also shows the figure of Venus covering her breast and she pulls her garment across the surface area that surrounds her private area. The colors in the painting work will together. The garments that Venus wears carefully and descriptively goes well with her creamy skin. Also, “the metallic embroidery and gleaming jewels provide textural contrasts to the softness of her fabrics, skin, and hair” (“Titian Late Renaissance”).

Some of Titian’s inspiration for the work stemmed from the classical Venus Pudica. He was also seen to show how beautiful the female form is in the representation of Venus’s body. The Venus with a mirror is primarily about vision, and about being seen, about reality and its reflection, and about the exaltation of beauty that is embodied in the goddess and knowable through the spirit” (“Venice” Thus, Venus with a Mirror also models Titian’s intent to showcase beautiful women. In many of his paintings of women, he shows them all as being ladies rather than expose their bodies in a negative fashion as if they were mistresses. According to the article titled “Titian’s Venus of Urbino,” “Titian’s Venus is alert, powerful, more dominating than dominated by her unseen male beholder” (“Titian’s Venus” Venus as she is depicted in Venus with a Mirror and many other of Titian’s work is seen to possess domination of her body and also esteem herself with liberation and embrace the formation of her voluptuous size. Finally, Venus with a Mirror is a classical work of Renaissance art that esteems itself in the empowerment of a female body and it is now in the Andrew W. Mellon Collection.

The Concept of "Venus"

Venus is the second-closest planet to the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows. This description directly correlates to Titans painting, Venus With The Mirror. Venus meaning love or sexual desire in Latin, was a major Roman goddess principally associated with love, beauty and fertility, who played a key role in many Roman religious festivals and myths. From the third century BC, the increasing Hellenization of Roman upper classes identified her as the equivalent of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Knowing the historical aspect of Venus aids the audience in critiquing Venus With a Mirror in an efficient manner. Because Venus was considered to be beautiful, exotic, and without flaw, many paintings and criticisms have been done solely on the influence of the Roman goddess. Many times, it seems as if scholars forget that Venus is a mythological figure, because of her strong influence in the artistic world. However, when constructing an analysis of her being, there must be a realistic approach in arguments and claims made regarding Venus. Titan sets the pace for future paintings such as Venus in a Mirror, and Venus Before a mirror just to name a few. His extravagant painting of a voluptuous woman (Venus) looking into a mirror with cupid by her side is extremely intricate. We also must consider the historical context of the painting. The painting was produced in 1555. 16th Century Europe had a very particular and absurd view of beauty. Women dressed the same and were not as voluptuous as how Venus is seen in the painting. Here are some images to give you an idea of what was considered beautiful in 16th century Europe:

"Venus" vs. "Venus"

1. How are these images similar?
2. What are they saying about Renaissance society verses present day society?
3. How can each womans actions be interpreted?
4. Why do you think it is significant to show these two images parallel to one another?

Critiques on the Painting

What Peter Paul Ruben would comment on Titian’s Venus with a Mirror: Form and Style:
Brief biography: Sir Peter Paul Rubens was a 17th century Flemish Baroque painter and famous for his Baroque style(encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church which described a style of art present in the late 16th to the early 18th century where the style is characterized by strong movement, explicit emotion, and self confident portrayals) in his paintings. He particularly examined the use of movement, color, and sensuality in his paintings.

As seen by the perspective of Ruben:“I like the use of color and movement that Titian has incorporated in his painting of Venus with a Mirror. The form of Venus is very voluptuous and captivating in sense of the identification of the body as a real form and not an idealized one. I am so intrigued by the style and form that you used, that I will have to make a copy in my own artistic style that represents the Northern Baroque. I will call it Rueben’s Venus. I do have a problem in the realistic and humanized form that your painting is in, mine, however, will be much more humanized than yours. Her figure will be much fuller and far more curvaceous than yours. I want her form to be embraced. She will not look at her reflection in the mirror; hence she will gaze on how her beauty is effective to its viewers.”

The Judgment of Paris is a popular European magazine that looks at the transition of fashion throughout the years. The magazine evaluates how fashion and art are intertwined. In this critique the magazine looks at the appreciation of the female body, which correlates to Titan’s appreciation for feminine beauty.

As seen by the perspective of “The Judgment of Paris”:
“Titian found inspiration in an even lovelier and noticeably heavier fair-haired model, who personified for him the very acme of feminine beauty. The identity of this model is uncertain, but she is often judged the most beautiful woman in history. Titian first painted her in two mythological subjects, feminine ideal. Titian found inspiration in an even lovelier and noticeably heavier fair-haired model, who personified for him the very acme of feminine beauty. The identity of this model is uncertain, but she is often judged the most beautiful woman in history. Titian first painted her in two mythological subjects, DanaĆ« receiving the Golden Rain and Venus with Organist and Cupid, but his final representation of his fair muse in Venus with a Mirror (above) surpassed all his previous efforts, and ranks as Titian’s supreme masterwork. The artist was so attached to this painting that could never bear to sell it, and it remained with him until his death.
Unlike the earlier works, in Venus with a Mirror Titian’s voluptuous model adopts the classical pose known as the Venus Pudica, or “modest Venus.” But Titian contrasts the traditional modesty of the pose with the unmistakable pleasure in her own appearance that the goddess exhibits as she looks into the mirror—as if her luxurious charms are so wondrous that she herself is forced to pause and catch her breath in awe.”

Circulation of Cultural Energy: Swetnam & Speight

Two pieces of literature that we found that seem to go together with the painting, Venus with a Mirror, are Swetnam’s, “ From The Arraignment of Lewd, Idle, Froward, and Unconstant Women: Or the Vanity of Them Choose You Whether” and Speight’s, “ From A Muzzle for Melastomus”. In both of these pieces of literature each author makes an argument against or in support of the woman and her significance within society. Swetnams excerpt defends the negative stereotypes that are assumed about the woman from the patriarchal society of that time period. He portrays women as being lazy and willing to do anything at the detriment of a man. Swetnam continues to reinforce the notion that women are to be looked at and not heard. This argument ties into the painting, Venus with a Mirror, because the woman in the painting is doing exactly what Swetnam would say a woman should do. She is sitting beautifully admiring herself, while others admire her from a far. The painting captures the beauty and frailty of the woman. The woman is posed in a very demure position, which automatically displays her beauty. The fact that she is naked also plays into Swetnam’s beliefs that women are sexual creatures who use their sexuality to bring men down. Her being naked creates an alluring feeling for the man, which to its credit is very powerful in the hands of the woman.
In Speight’s piece, she argues that the woman has much more significance than just being the inferior figure to the man. She argues that the woman has her purpose and instead of being inferior should be equal to the man. Speight looks at gender in a means of equality, which banishes a lot of the gender roles that are assigned to men and women. A big part of Speight’s defense in her piece is the fact Swetnam’s argument is merely based off of emotion and ideals that have already been formed. Speight brings a new argument to the table, which supports equality of the sexes. After reading Speight’s piece, and evaluating the painting, we came to the conclusion that Speight would not be in support of this painting. One of the many issues that the writer would have with the painting is the fact that the women are only being displayed for her beauty. She is naked and a spectacle for men to look at and admire. The painting does not display the woman as being intelligent and independent of the ideals that the man has projected on to her. She is not being looked at as equal to the man but instead part of the existence for men. In men’s eyes this picture is the ultimate definition of feminity, however, Speight would argue that this picture is everything that she is fighting against when it comes to the role of the woman within Renaissance society.

Classical Beauty in Different Forms

Youtube Video that shows the connection between curvaceous women as a beauty form.


This video shows modern and renaissance and other classical paintings that show the similarity of beauty and full figured women depicted as art. As Titian would see this collection of art form and depiction of women as embracing the beauty they are entitled to. Hence the video also shows the Classical beauty ideal: painting and sculptures from the Victorian Era, Renaissance Era and full-figured models of the present day that represent such a feminine idea of beauty.