Painting Analysis. Bacchus and Ariadne by Titian (1520-1523)

Essay, 2019

7 Pages


Painting Analysis Bacchus and Ariadne by Titian ( 1520-1523)

„Bacchus and Ariadne“ is an Italian Renaissance painting by the Venetian painter Titian. It was painted around 1522-23 with oil on canvas. It has the size of 176.5 cm x 191 cm and is one painting of the cycle of paintings on mythological subjects produced for Alfonso l d’Este, the Duke of Ferrara, for the Camerino d’Alabastro. At the moment it is exhibited at the National Gallery in London. The painting depicts various persons, some animals and a mythical creature standing on a cliff with a wide horizon.

Starting with the foreground, there is a man standing on the right who seems to be struggling and walking into the scenery. He is clutching onto a snake’s neck, which is wrapping itself around the man’s body, missing the head and the right leg. It starts at the man’s left leg, continuing to wrap around his torso and his right arm and ending at his left arm. The snake’s head is pointing up to the man’s elbow.

Next to the man is a mythical creature that is walking to the left-side of the painting, looking up to the struggling man and pulling a heifer’s head by a string. It’s a young satyr, which becomes clear by looking at its hooves, furry bottom and his babyface. The shoulders are covered with a silk-like pink cloth and his hair is decorated with white small flowers. There is a lapdog beside the satyr’s leg, that seems to be growling at the mythical creature. At the right-side in the foreground is a lemon cloth with a bronze vessel with Titian’s signature.

Moving onto the middle ground, the first noticeable figure is an isolated female at the left-side of the painting, which is turning to the scenery. Her body as well as her blue and white dress is wrapped by a red, long cloth. She is looking slightly up to another figure, is ‚that nearly placed in the middle of the painting. Next to her are two cheetahs, pulling a chariot. The animals are looking at each other but are not really involved into the events behind them. On the chariot is a nearly naked male figure, that seems to be falling off it. He is staring back at the female and seems to be hypnotized by her appearance. His body is surrounded by a pink silk cloth, which he is also grabbing onto. On his head are vine leaves wreaths. Behind the male figure is another female figure with clash cymbals. Her clothes are gold, blue and white and she is looking up to the male figure above her. The last figure on the middle ground is another male figure with furry pants and a chain of vine leaves around his hips. In his left hand he is holding a rod with some more vine leaves while he his holding a hoof in his right. He is facing to a figure in the background of the painting.

The last ground is the background, where most of the figures are located in the right- side of the painting. Next to two trees, that are directly behind the women holding clash cymbals in the middle ground, is a female with a tambourine. Only her upper torso is visible while the rest is covered by the man in the foreground. She is looking at the male with the furry pants in the middle ground. Right behind her is a man on a donkey that seems to be sleeping. The last figure of this painting is an unclear man that is carrying a boulder. Behind all the figures are some trees that are covering the blue sky. The rest of the background is a view of a cliff that leads to the wide horizon. A small town behind the chariot man and a small, disappearing ship behind the isolated women. Above her head, far up the sky is a small star constellation with eight stars.

The Venetian painter Titian, or Tiziano Vecellio, was born 1488/1490 in Pieve di Cadore and died on August 27th 1576. He was the most important member of the 16th-century Venetian school and was often called da Cadore, which was taken from his birthplace. His career was successful from the start and he became sought after by patrons. During the course of his long life, his artistic manner changed drastically but retained a lifelong interest in color. Even tough his mature works may not contain vivid, luminous tins of his early pieces, their loose brushwork and subtlety of tone where precedent in the history of Western painting. The reason why he painted the picture is a commission by Alfonso l d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, who had originally commissioned the great painters of the time like the Venetian painter Giovanni Bellini, Titian’s possible teacher, and the Florentine painters Raphael, Michelangelo, that actually never delivered, and Fra Bartolomeo. Before they could deliver something, Raphael and Fra Bartolomeo died, only leaving some sketches behind. So Titian took over most of the commissions and painted them at the duke’s house.


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Painting Analysis. Bacchus and Ariadne by Titian (1520-1523)
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painting, analysis, bacchus, ariadne, titian
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Paula Amahaotu (Author), 2019, Painting Analysis. Bacchus and Ariadne by Titian (1520-1523), Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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