Room 2

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Titian and Venice 1500–1530

In the first decade or so of the 16th century, Venetian painting was transformed by a new generation of young artists, among them Giorgione and Titian. In their successful efforts to depict the fall of natural light on landscape and figures, they revolutionised the use of oil paint.

Giorgione painted with a new freedom, his brushstrokes looser and lighter than those of his predecessors. This style lent itself to capturing atmospheric effects in landscape, and the creation of new poetic moods for his subject matter. Many other Venetian painters, including Titian, adopted this way of painting to convey emotion. 

After Giorgione’s early death, Titian became the city’s pre-eminent painter. His earliest works include monumental and subtly characterised portraits, and devotional pictures that combined artistic beauty with profound religious feeling. 

In the decades that followed, he further expanded his range as a painter of drama and psychological nuance, as well as a storyteller. His Bacchus and Ariadne, painted for Alfonso d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, as part of a series of mythologies, is a high point to this development.