Home Entertainment “Venus and Adonis” by Titian sold for 13 million at Sotheby’s auction in London

“Venus and Adonis” by Titian sold for 13 million at Sotheby’s auction in London

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“Venus and Adonis” by Titian sold for 13 million at Sotheby’s auction in London

A depiction of the tragic story of ‘Venus and Adonis’ painted by Titian (1488-1576) sold at auction at Sotheby’s in London for 11.2 million pounds (13 million euros), reaching the second highest price realized for any work by the hand of the great Renaissance Venetian artist. The award took place on Wednesday evening 7 December, to a collector who has asked to remain anonymous for the time being. Today, a dozen versions of Titian’s “Venus and Adonis” survive, some of the highest quality are held in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The painting sold by Sotheby’s was exhibited in Vienna on the occasion of the recent exhibition at the Kunsthistorisches Museum entitled “Titian’s Vision of Women”, which was intended to illustrate through about sixty works from the collections of the Viennese museum, museums around the world and private collections how Titian depicted women throughout his production. It was exhibited in the section «The splendid world of myths», where it was told how Renaissance artists and their patrons considered mythological painting to be the pinnacle of great art. The research and studies that have been carried out on the painting have allowed experts to identify an almost uninterrupted provenance that traces three hundred years from the beginning of the eighteenth century to the present day. Recent reports have emerged showing that this «Venus and Adonis» belonged to Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736) and another notable former owner was Benjamin West (1738-1820), president of the Royal Academy of London and history painter officer of George III. New research has also established the painting’s journey through mid-20th-century Germany, from the collection of Maximilian von Heyl zu Herrnsheim (1844-1925) in Darmstadt, almost certainly from 1904 until 1966.

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“Too lascivious”
The original owner of the painting remains unclear, although a possible candidate could be Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle (1517-1586), one of the most influential statesmen of his time, who we know commissioned a version after 1554. Another clue to a The possible client is an engraving by Giulio Sanuto which reproduces the painting in 1559 – authorized by Titian – and which bears a dedication to Alberto Utiner, of whom very little is known. The work awarded by Sotheby’s has been hidden from public view for a long time and is therefore still little studied. After a technical examination of the painting in 2015, the full extent of Titian’s direct involvement was published in a study by Thomas Dalla Costa, who recognized its qualities as a work conceived and developed by Titian himself and provided clear evidence of the artist’s hand. Following the 2022 Vienna exhibition and a large subsequent discussion among scholars, there is now broad agreement as to Titian’s authorship of the painting. While Titian explored the theme of «Venus and Adonis» from the 1520s onwards, this version refers more closely to the artist’s celebrated painting of the same subject painted for Philip of Habsburg, later King Philip II of Spain (1527-1598 ), sent in 1554 and now in the collection of the Museo del Prado in Madrid. The version was part of a series of six paintings that Philip of Habsburg commissioned from Titian inspired by Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”. Known as «poetic paintings», this cycle of works – executed over the course of eleven years – ranks among the greatest achievements of Titian’s career. Although it had raised some concern at the time that ‘Venus and Adonis’ were ‘too lascivious’, Titian’s conception attracted great fame which earned him numerous commissions.

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