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Titian's Venus of Urbino

Titian's Venus of Urbino

Venus of Urbino
by Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)
1538. Oil on canvas, 119 x 165 cm
Uffizi, Florence

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Titian's Venus of Urbino has the trademark red-gold hair that history has named "Titian" after the artist's name because of his frequent use of the brownish orange color. Titian's Venus of Urbino was finished in 1538 for the Duke of Camerino, Guidobaldo della Rovere. Titian's Venus of Urbino is the first in a long series of recumbent Venuses, a theme which Titian returned to again and again in later years.

A litle dog sleeps at the feet of Titian's Venus as Venus herself lies in nude splendor. Two other figures busy with some task, perhaps a lady-in-waiting and a servant girl, occupy another room in the background with a treetop window flanked by columns. Unlike earlier works by the artist which were set in the outdoors, the subject of Titian's Venus of Urbino resides in a dark sumptious interior hung with rich brocade curtains.

The della Rovere patron who ordered this commission anxiously awaited its completion, describing in correspondence Titian's Venus of Urbino not as Venus, but simply as a nude woman. The woman appears to be a courtesan, staring boldly at the viewer, unconcerned with her nudity. Frederick Hartt describes Titian's Venus of Urbino painting as being the "closest he [Titian] ever came to Central Italian Mannerism" with his use of ornamentalism, concern with flat areas, textures, patterns, and subdued colors.

Brenda Harness, Art Historian

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