Tiziano and the conceptual program of his “Poems”

On September 10th, 1554, the artist Tiziano Vecellio sent to the king of Spain, Philip II, the painting “Venus and Adonis”. It was the first of a series of works on mythological subjects (called “Poems”, some of them are in the gallery above) that were supposed to adorn an entire room in his residence. In a letter that accompanied the work, the artist wrote to the king the instructions to follow in order to properly look at the series of works.


The series – he stated – was to be appreciated by comparing a painting after another, through the result of every single moving figure. Each figure, in fact, should be enjoyed in its different attitude and posture (“the front”, the b-side, or any other “different view”). In this way, Titian was connecting his art to one of the most frequent theoretical arguments of his time, that is the comparison of the different specificity of expression between painting and sculpture.


Tiziano’s reflections particularly related to the subject of “the multiplicity of views” in a three-dimensional figure: the artist was indeed attempting to evade the two-dimensionality of the painted surface by providing multiple points of view. Thus giving the work a new dimension, as if the figures were free to move in time and space.

July 17, 2015