Artibus et Historiae no. 77 (XXXIX)

2018, ISSN 0391-9064

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ANTHONY APESOS - Titian’s Flaying of Marsyas: Colorito Triumphant (pp. 111–143)

Titian’s painting of The Flaying of Marsyas in the archbishop’s palace in Kroměříž is possibly the last work touched by the brush of the master and it was probably still in Titian’s studio after he died in 1576. The painting depicts the punishment dealt to Marsyas, the loser in a musical contest between him and the god Apollo. In discussions of the painting, two aspects have occasioned significant disagreement: the identification of the figure of Midas as a self-portrait of Titian and the question of the facture of the painting as evidence of Titian’s late style or of simple lack of finish. These two issues are, I will argue, closely linked and can be illuminated by a consideration of Titian’s use of Giulio Romano’s composition of the same subject. My discussion of the identity of Midas, the facture of Titian’s painting and its relation to Giulio’s painting lead to an understanding of the Flaying of Marsyas as a contribution by Titian to the controversy between colore and disegno in sixteenth-century Italian art theory.

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