In the New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art, there are a lot of pictures presenting Renaissance art. In turn, Renaissance art was constantly applying to the theme of love and creating countless images of Venus, Eros, and the Graces. The interest in the subject was not accidental since it corresponded to the spiritual and aesthetic needs of the era. Humanistic philosophy fertilized the art by supplying it with various mythological images, ideas, and stories. These images were formed and transformed under the influence of Neoplatonic philosophy of love which, thus, had a direct impact on the visual arts of the Renaissance. In particular, “Neoplatonism flourished in the Italian Renaissance” (Bartlett 98). Many Italian painters, including Titian and Paul Veronese, continued to refer to mythological images praised by Neoplatonism. The image of Venus, which was one of the most popular topics in Neoplatonism, took a central place in the works of these two artists. Similarities between them can be observed in the technical aspects of creating their artworks, while the differences are manifested primarily in an ideological emphasis presented in their paintings. In order to verify this, the current paper analyzes The Venus and the Lute Player by Titian and Mars and Venus United by Love by Paolo Veronese.
As stated earlier, Titian’s art reflects the growing trend of Renaissance art to sensuality and eroticism. Titian had created a series of paintings dedicated to Venus. The picture of Venus and the Lute Player created by the artist in 1565-70s allows one to see the distinctive features of the work (“Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) and Workshop”). First, it can be argued that Titian’s Venus has primarily secular nature since she is depicted as a fine lady, resting on a bed and listening to music. Venus’ look is rather detached and cold. However, despite the haughty and dismissive expression of Venus’ face, a sharp contrast between the luxurious furnishings and a naked female body underlines the sensuality and eroticism of the depicted scene. A beautiful body of Venus corresponding to the canons of the Renaissance in respect of feminine beauty perfectly fits the overall story setting of the picture, creating an atmosphere of sensuality and eroticism. In the picture, Titian depicts the sensual image of a naked woman, which seems to be on the verge between the portrait and mythology as well as an erotic illustration and high art. Since Titian was a singer of sensual pleasures, in the painting, a spiritual moment does not disappear, but it seems to go by the wayside. One might note that Titian depicts not a dissolved and fragile beauty of youth but a ripe and juicy beauty, which has already blossomed. Titian’s Venus astonishes the viewer with her majestic beauty. In addition, it must be admitted that the picture has a pronounced hedonistic character. Hereby, this is achieved by the fact that it has an observer. Titian’s Venus shows a contact between the viewer and the object drawn. The artist arranges the composition according to the viewpoint of the observer and shows his aesthetic response to the presence of nude Venus.
Talking about Veronese, he adopted certain technical features of Titian’s works. In particular, he also uses a broad and free style of painting. The powerful figure of the god of war in armor and a red cloak is shown in the foreground of the picture, while nude Venus resembles ancient sculpture. The striking symmetry of the composition, accurate modeling and plasticity of the figures are emphasized by festive cheerfulness and expressive foreshortened figures as well as triumphant splendor of sonorous color. Similarly to Titian, Veronese applies the theme of sensuality and beauty of the naked body. The beauty of Venus is emphasized by pearl necklace and bracelets (“Paolo Veronese (Paolo Caliari)”). In addition, the picture has a tactile character that can also be seen in Titian’s work. Hereby, this tactility is observed in a heavy silk cloak of Mars, a smooth body of the horse, pure white and warm marble. Following the techniques of Titian, Veronese accurately describes every detail, and splendor of colors allows him to convey a sense of celebration and luxury. Moreover, among the technical similarities between the two artists one can point to their use of images of nature. In fact, it allows the authors to emphasize the idea of beauty as harmony between nature and man. However, unlike Titian, Veronese makes a departure from the secular subjects, alluding to the sublime love. Thus, this can be seen in the fact that the right Cupid is holding back the horse (which can be regarded as a symbol of the basest passions) with a sword, while a lascivious satyr is carved in stone.
To conclude, the technical features of both paintings are rather similar. Both artists use juicy and bright colors in order to accentuate the solemnity and pomp of the depicted situation. Following the ideals of Renaissance art, the artists are trying to highlight the beauty of the female body and depict jewelry and beautiful hairstyles among others. Nevertheless, in contrast to Titian who depicts Venus as a fashionable lady reclining on a bed, Veronese depicts Venus as the goddess of love, whose love inspires and encourages her lover. Thus, Venus of Veronese is a beautiful goddess able to give not only the beauty of her body but also sublime love in her heart.