Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Zeus of Urbino

Titian. Venus of Urbino (1538) 
Having recently learned that Zeus is a kitty vampire, I am now more apt to believe him when he tells me about some of his friends from centuries ago. When he told me that Titian had painted a picture of him in 1534 that was identical in every way to the Venus of Urbino I naturally thought that he was telling me a lie. He informed me that he and Titian had been great friends, and that Guidobaldo II della Rovere (the Duke of Urbino) loved the painting so much that he tried to buy it from Titian. Titian refused to sell his portrait of Zeus to the Duke of Urbino, but offered instead to do something similar with the Duke's wife (Giulia Varano). After great protestation the Duke agreed, and that is how the Venus of Urbino came about. You can still see that glorious painting at the Uffizi, but the portrait of Zeus was lost to posterity because it was stolen from Titian's personal estate after his death. There has been an exhaustive ongoing search for this painting for nearly 500 years, and Zeus and his "friends" from the underworld feel they are getting closer to recovering it. In the meantime he commissioned a photograph of himself as a reminder of Titian's portrait- though it clearly lacks all of the Cinquecento fineries that one would expect to see.


  1. That nutty Zeus. Next week he will be Goya's La Maja Desnuda who, considering the time, looked like she had silicone implants.

    1. He's a nut for sure! That's funny-- I always thought they looked like silicone implants as well-- I have the same thought about Michelangelo's Night, and Dawn at the Medici Chapel in Florence. Now that's a hell of a commitment to carve those "implants."


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