Titian's Triumph of Love

This event was held from 21 July 2009 to 20 September 2009

21 July – 20 September 2009

Room 1

Admission free

Titian’s ‘Triumph of Love’ went on display to the public for the first time in nearly 50 years. The painting shows cupid taming a crouching lion, representing love’s conquest of the wilder passions.

Work by the National Gallery’s Conservation Department reveals the true quality of this painting for the first time in generations.

Renaissance covers and reverses

Research at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford has unearthed the painting’s function as a cover, which was used to protect and conceal a female portrait. This research has also linked the painting with its original owner, Titian’s patron, the collector Gabriel Vendramin.

The relationship between Italian Renaissance portraits and their covers and reverses was a key theme of this exhibition.  'The Triumph of Love’ was displayed alongside rarely seen reverses of A Lady in Profile by a follower of Botticelli and Jacometto’s Portrait of a Man. For comparison the exhibition also included another possible cover, Titian’s Allegory of Prudence.

Image above: Detail from 'The Triumph of Love', mid-1540s, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
Photo © The National Gallery, London