The following is a test of the capability and design of this website. I have posted a art history, the course was required give me a break, assignment that I recently completed below:
Timothy Coish Student NO redacted
Comparison of Titian’s Venus of Urbino with
Lucas Cranach’s Nymph of Spring
By 1538 Titian was a very famous Italian painter, having been made official painter to the republic of Venice in 1516, and having completed many commissioned works of art for a variety of patrons in the time from 1516 to 1538. The man who would later become the duke of Urbine, Guidobaldo della Rovere, commissioned Titian for a painting, probably to celebrate his wife, a fourteen year old woman. Titian completed the work, which is now known as Titian’s Venus of Urbino.
The eye is immediately drawn to the beautiful woman lying on the bed, Venus. Titian has “lit” Venus in such a way as to set her apart from the background. The slight shadows around her body set her apart from the white sheets. Interestingly, similar lighting is common in films in present days, although Titian did not have access to powerful electrical lights, nor would such a thing have mattered to the paint or canvas. The realism of the painting is slightly strained as perspective indicates to us that the tiled floor in the background is nearly as high as the top of the bed. This is done to show the information of the servants more clearly, important in the correct reading of the painting, and elsewhere the painting appears very real, almost as if we are looking at a real scene.
The meaning of the picture is quite clear; it is a portrayal of a beautiful wife, as numerous marital symbols show. The spaniel sleeping on the bed with Venus implies fidelity and domesticity. Marriage chests, called cassoni, and the bridle associations of the myrtle and roses further remove an interpretation of only eroticism. She appears to us more as a beautiful woman who allows herself to be seen by a man whom she trusts and is familiar with then a more risqué, or heart pounding courtesan.
There can, however, be no mistaking the purposeful sensuality of Venus. Titian has painted her with a very soft golden glow, which combined with her open but reserved body placement, especially her hand, portrays her not necessarily as a sexual object, but as a woman who is sexual.
Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Nymph of Spring was made for Frederick the Wise of Saxony in 1537. The background is very detailed and beautiful. Cranach has slightly stylised the shadows in the foliage as darker than the time of day would naturally make them. With only a few colours, as well as the stylised shadows, he creates a look in the foliage that makes the bushes appear lusher. The city backdrop is stylized only so far as content, the shapes of the architecture and the perspective is entirely natural. Unfortunately, the nymph unnaturally pops out from the background. While this is certainly intentional, we can see that the lighting is not simply directed, but, when it comes to her, it is unnatural. She appears to be floating. She does not appear to press down the foliage under her, which, when combined with the lighting, break the laws of physics in an unfortunate, although only minor way.
The inspiration for Cranach was an inscription on the side of a fountain, which he has put on the top left of the painting. It reads, “I am the nymph of the sacred font. Do not interrupt my sleep for I am at peace.” The nymph portrayed in Cranach’s painting appears to be youthful and healthy, both traditionally seen as beautiful. She appears to have cast off all her clothes, as evidenced by the bow and quiver in the tree, as well as the fine velvet red gown. However, she continues to wear her jewelry, accentuating her bare skin, and drawing the viewers eyes down from her half closed eyes to her breasts. The transparent veil she wears again only serves to heighten her nudity. The pair of partridges arguably serves as a symbol for marital love; however that appears to be to further reinforce the sexual nature of the nymph, and the art as a whole.
We see a heightened sexual passion in Lucas Cranach’s painting. Cranach was reputedly more delighted in the possibility of earthy things, something not typically shared by his contemporaries working for Protestant patrons. The lushness of the foliage, the elegance of the velvet, and the majesty of the castle town is pleasing to the viewer, much more so than the moderately harsh and certainly less idealized background in Titian’s painting. The use of the partridges by Cranach is nearly identical to the use of the spaniel by Titian in terms of placement, both to Venus or the Nymph, and also simply in the location in the painting. Indeed, they are both symbols of marital love, but Titian’s dog symbolises fidelity and domestication, whereas Cranach’s partridges simply reinforce the sexualisation and even wildness of his nymph. Titian’s Venus appears naked presumably for her husband, whereas Cranach’s nymph appears naked and free. Titian celebrates the beauty of a wife; Cranach can be interpreted as celebrating the beauty and sexualisation of a woman in general, as seen finally by the darker, more romantic and hidden lighting of Titian, and the lighter, more open lighting of Cranach.