Titian’s Venus (c.1548-9) and Manet’s Olympia (1863)

Each of Titian's reclining Venuses represent a nude "painting" within the painting as demonstrated in Titian's Venus with an Organist (c.1550). The musician represents the artist metaphorically "painting" the nude by performing his music. In this version (left) the dog is also self-referential. The pet is traditionally described as protecting his mistress from the viewer yet if one compares his face....

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Captions for image(s) above:

Titian, Venus and Cupid with an Organist (c.1548-9) Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

 

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....... to an engraving after a lost self-portrait of the artist, you will notice that they share the same "moustache". The dog is "Titian" in the lower right-hand corner of the image where artists leave their signature. His untamed hair suggests "brushiness" (the hairs of a paintbrush) but barking with mouth open he also resembles a variation on the face and gaze of the Medusa.

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Captions for image(s) above:

Left: Detail of Titian's Venus and Cupid with an Organist
Right: Detail of an engraving of Titian's lost self-portrait

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Three centuries later Manet based Olympia on another of Titian's nude Venuses, the Venus of Urbino. He must have known, though, that Titian's dog in the Berlin Venus resembled the artist because he added a cat on guard glaring out of the canvas for the same purpose. 

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Captions for image(s) above:

Manet, Olympia (1863)

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No-one has noticed that the cat's legs spell the letter 'M' for Manet, again like a signature in the lower right-hand corner. He also formed objects into the letter M in Cafe-Concert, Execution of Emperor Maximilian, Interior at Arachon and Monet Painting in His Studio Boat to name a few.

The purpose here, though, is to demonstrate that artists, who identify with God, Christ and kings, are 'animals' too. Most of them, regardless of their outer religion, not only feel at one with all beings but with inanimate nature too, as future entries will also show. 

Captions for image(s) above:

Left: Detail of Manet's Olympia
Right: Diagram of the letter M in the cat's legs

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Notes:

Original Publication Date on EPPH: 30 Jul 2011. © Simon Abrahams. Articles on this site are the copyright of Simon Abrahams. To use copyrighted material in print or other media for purposes beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Websites may link to this page without permission (please do) but may not reproduce the material on their own site without crediting Simon Abrahams and EPPH.