Beauty and Cruelty

In the 1550s, Titian painted seven great paintings for Philip II of Spain. Philip, who drove the Netherlands to revolt and succession by imposing the Spanish Inquisition on them, who channelled the wealth of the New World into building the Escorial palace and pointless wars, who burned thirty-one Protestants in the main square of Valladolid in 1559, displayed paintings in which Gods exercised their power without remorse or pity over helpless humans, in pictures where the viewer is invited to take pleasure and amusement in the victims’ pain. The paintings show the skill of one of the greatest artists, and are beautiful.

Jupiter descends to impregnate Danae, in a shower of gold.

Jupiter, in the form of a bull, carries off Europa. A putti mocks her, mimicking her movement.

Actaeon, hunting in the woods, comes upon Diana and sees her nakedness.

Diana hunts him down with his own dogs, which rip him apart. This painting was never delivered and is not always included in the set.

Diana punishes Callisto, for her pregnancy to Jupiter.

Adonis, the hunter, pulls away from Venus, who loves him.

Andromeda, chained to be eaten by a sea monster, sees Perseus coming to her rescue.

All show naked women. In three, the woman exercises power, and in four she is its victim.

My blog is now ten years old.

4 thoughts on “Beauty and Cruelty

  1. Congratulations on ten years blogging.
    If you look at other paintings Titian did for Philip II, especially those in the Prado, the pornographic intent is unmistakeable. But great mythology hides many sins!
    Thanks for sharing these. It’s always nice to find a bit of culture on the internet.
    Sue x

    Liked by 1 person

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