Artibus et Historiae no. 61 (XXXI)

2010, ISSN 0391-9064

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PAUL JOANNIDES - Titian, Giorgione and the Mystery of Paris

Starting with a discussion of Titian's late Nymph and Shepherd in Vienna, of which Panofsky's interpretation as Paris and Oenone is accepted, it is noted that all the figurative components recall work by Sebastiano del Piombo and Titian himself of the early Cinquecento, a period when histories of the early life of Paris were uniquely common in Venetian painting. Various uncontroversial examples of Paris narratives by unidentified artists are cited, and several paintings by or after Giorgione and Titian are proposed as representation of Paris. In particular, from visual comparison with his lost early Finding of Paris, recorded by Michiel and known in a copy by Teniers, it is argued that Giorgione's Tempesta illustrates the Nurture of Paris. It is further shown that a lost Judgement of Paris known in several copies, and of which the original is variously attributed to Giorgione or Titian, must be by Titian since it quotes a figure in an engraving that was not issued in Giorgione's lifetime: Marcantonio Raimondi's Adam and Eve after Raphael. It is suggested that both the Tempesta and the Judgement of Paris may have been components of a Paris cycle in which Sebastiano too could have been involved. The article concludes that by returning, in his Paris and Oenone, to themes that he had addressed over sixty years earlier and to which he had not returned in the interim, the elderly Titian was consciously paralleling his own early life with the early life of Paris, and was responding to a profound emotional need to close the sequence of his mythologies with an untrammelled evocation of youthful love.

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