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Venus with an Organist and Cupid
Tiziano, Vecellio di Gregorio
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Tiziano, Vecellio di Gregorio

Pieve di Cadore, Belluno, Véneto, 1490 - Venecia, 1576

Miniatura autor

Venus with an Organist and Cupid

Ca. 1555. Oil on canvas, 150.2 x 218.2 cm.

Titian painted five images of Venus and music, but those five variations on a single theme were not made for the same client, nor intended to be exhibited together. Set in a villa, they show Venus reclining before a large window. At her feet, an organist (in the versions at the Museo del Prado and the Staatliche Museen in Berlin) or a lutenist (at the Metropolitan Museum of New York and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge) play their instrument as they contemplate the goddess’s nudity. Meanwhile, she looks away, distracted by the presence of a dog, or of Cupid. These works’ typology indicates they date from the final stage in the development of one of Titian’s subgenres: the reclining female nude, which began with his Sleeping Venus (Dresden, Gemäldegalerie) and continued with the Venus of Urbino (Florince, Galleria degli Uffizi). He thus returned to the subject of musicians with nude women in an open space that he had first addressed at the beginning of his career in his Pastoral Concert (Musée du Louvre).

The paintings of Venus and music have been the object of diverse interpretations. Some historians consider them manifestly erotic works with no deeper meaning. Others assign them considerable symbolic content, interpreting them as allegories of the senses from a neo-Platonic perspective that considers sight and hearing the means of knowing beauty and harmony, as defined by Mario Equicola in his Libro di natura d’amore (Venice, 1526). It is not enough, however, to assign the same meaning to all versions without considering the commercial logic and particular circumstances underlying each one. The first version would be one of the two at the Museo del Prado (P420), which is the only one in which the faces of both figures are individualized. In the others, Venus has stereotyped features of the sort visible in other female figures by Titian. In that first version, she wears a wedding ring on her right hand and lacks iconographic elements that would identify her as Venus. Moreover, this is the only version in which she is not accompanied by Cupid. The figures in the garden are exceptional in Titian’s work and are probably a metaphor for a successful marriage. Here, their meaning would be related to such a bond: the dog would allude to happiness, the donkey to eternal love, and the peacock to fecundity.

Titian based Venus and the Organ Player with Cupid on the previous version, transferring the silhouettes of both the main figures and the surrounding elements -the organ, curtain, trees, fountain, animals and the couple walking in the garden- but making small changes that depersonalize the original composition and endow it with greater commercial projection. The most important change was the presence of Cupid in place of the dog. This identifies the woman as Venus, which obliged the artist to modify the upper part of her body and the position of her head and left hand. The other changes were less significant, and involved the musician’s face, the landscape, and the placement of the folds in the curtain and in the velvet blanket on which Venus lies.

Venus and the Organ Player with Cupid was first mentioned in writing in 1626, when Cassiano del Pozzo saw it in the Lower summer quarters at Madrid’s Alcázar Palace. It entered the Museo del Prado in 1838 via the Royal Collection (Text drawn from Falomir, M. in: El Prado en el Ermitage, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2011, pp. 76-77).

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Technical data

Related artworks

Venus and Music
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1550
Inventory number
P00421
Author
Tiziano, Vecellio di Gregorio
Title
Venus with an Organist and Cupid
Date
Ca. 1555
Technique
Oil
Support
Canvas
Dimension
High/Height: 150.2 cm.; Width: 218.2 cm.
Provenance
Royal Collection (Royal Alcázar, Madrid, "bóvedas de Tiziano", 1700, no. 484; New Royal Palace, Madrid, "primera sala de la Furriera", 1747, no. 6; New Royal Palace, Madrid, "estudio de Andrés de la Calleja", 1772, no. 6; Casa de Rebeque, Madrid, 1794; Academy of San Fernando, Madrid, "sala reservada", 1827, no. 53).

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Other inventories +

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos II, Alcázar de Madrid, 1701-1703. Núm. 484.
Bobedas del tiçiano [...] 484 / Yttem Ottra [pintura] de dos Uaras y quartta de altto y Uara y media de largo de Una Venus Con Vn Cupidillo desnudo con Vna figura que estta tocando Vnos Organos de mano de el tiziano Con marco negro tasada en Un mill doblones ... 1000

Inv. Felipe V, Palacio Nuevo, 1747. Núm. 6.
PINTURAS EXISTENTES ANTIGUAS [...] En la primera Sala de este Oficio [de la Furriera] [...] {10225} 6 / Otro [lienzo] de Venus y Cupido y vn mancebo tocando el Organo original de el Ticiano de dos varas y dos tercias de largo y siete quartas de caida = se tasó en veinte mil reales

Inv. Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1772. Núm. 6.
Estudio de don Andres de la Calleja [...] [13310] 6 / Otro [quadro] de venus tendida en lecho donde hay vna figura tocando vn organo de dos varas y dos tercias de largo y siete quartas de caida original de Ticiano

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Casa de Rebeque, 1794. Núm. s. n..
[744] Dos de dos varas y tres quartas de largo y mas de vara y media de alto: Dos Venus á seis mil reales cada una. Ticiano ... 12000

Academia, Sala Reservada, 1827. Núm. 53.
Una muger, el mismo asunto que el anterior [Venus (...) y un Musico tocando el organo] acariciando a un cupidillo. / [Autor] Tiziano / [Alto] 5 [pies] 9 [pulgs.] / [Ancho] 7 [pies] 8 [pulgs.]

Inv. Testamentaría Fernando VII, Real Museo, Sala Reservada, 1834. Núm. 6.
SEIS. Venus acariciada por Cupido. / Ticiano / Escla Veneca / L. / 400.320

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 2355.
Ticiano / 2355. Una Venus. / Alto 5 pies, 3 pulg, 6 lin; ancho 7 pies, 9 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 460.

Exhibitions +

Splendor, Myth and Vision: Nudes from the Prado
Williamstown MA
12.06.2016 - 10.10.2016

Splendor, Myth and Vision: Nudes from the Prado
Williamstown MA
12.06.2016 - 10.10.2016

El Prado en el Hermitage
San Petersburgo
25.02.2011 - 29.05.2011

Picasso et les maîtres
París
06.10.2008 - 26.01.2009

From Titian to Goya. Great Masters from the Museo del Prado
Shanghai
13.09.2007 - 12.11.2007

From Titian to Goya. Great Masters from the Museo del Prado
Beijing
29.06.2007 - 24.08.2007

De Tiziano a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado
Osaka
14.07.2006 - 15.10.2006

De Tiziano a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado
Tokio
24.03.2006 - 02.07.2006

In the Light of Apollo. Italian Renaissance and Greece
Atenas
22.12.2003 - 19.04.2004

Vénus dévoilée. Autour d'un seul tableau: la Vénus d'Urbino du Titien
Bruselas
10.10.2003 - 01.02.2004

Titian
10.06.2003 - 07.09.2003

Pintura y poesía: del amor y la guerra en el Renacimiento
Madrid
01.11.2002 - 31.01.2003

El triunfo de Venus
Munich
01.02.2001 - 22.04.2001

Dipingere la musica
Cremona
02.12.2000 - 18.03.2001

El jardín de Melibea
Burgos
18.04.2000 - 20.06.2000

Las tierras y los hombres del rey
Valladolid
22.10.1998 - 10.01.1999

Le siecle de titien, de Giorgione a Veronese
París
09.03.1993 - 14.06.1993

Update date: 22-04-2016 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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