Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

Titian’s Diana and Callisto (Metamorphoses VII)

Titian, Diana and Callisto, 1556-59, The National Gallery, London, England. Detail.

Renaissance

Titian’s Diana and Callisto (Metamorphoses VII)

In a series of articles we are meeting each of the seven Poesies, which Titian delivered Phillip II of Spain in the 1550s and early 1560s. So far we have encountered the stories of Danaë, Venus and Adonis, Perseus and Andromeda, The Rape of Europa and Diana and Actaeon. Today’s Poesie, Diana and Callisto, previous and the final one, all revolve around stories about the goddess Diana. This one is particularly exciting because it completes a pair with Diana and Actaeon.

The Story of Callisto

Callisto is a nymph who has been raped by Jupiter and is now pregnant. However, being a follower of Diana she should be a virgin. The other nymphs reveal the pregnant belly to the virgin-goddess, who then orders Callisto into exile.

Mighty Diana punishes Callisto

Titian's Diana and Callisto
Titian, Diana and Callisto, 1556-59, The National Gallery, London, England.

“Nine crescent moons had since grown full when the goddess faint from the chase in her brother’s hot sunlight found a cool grove out …. “let’s bathe our bodies naked in the flowing water.” Callisto blushed: all of them took off their clothes: one of them tried to delay: hesitantly the tunic was removed and there her shame was revealed with her naked body. Terrified she tried to conceal her swollen belly. Diana cried ‘Go, far away from here: do not pollute the sacred fountain!’ and the Moon-goddess commanded her to leave her band of followers.”

Ovid, Metamorphoses II. 453-465

Once again, the scene abounds with female nudes and Titian has the opportunity to portray a pregnant belly and he chooses to make it fairly grotesque. Like in Diana and Actaeon the gaze of each figure is in a different direction and holds a very individual expression.

Titian’s Poesies – A Series


Be sure not to read about Diana and Actaeon, a twin to our painting. And find out about the previous Poesies too: Danaë (1549-50), Venus and Adonis (1554), Perseus and Andromeda (1556), The Rape of Europa (1560-2) and Diana and Actaeon (1556-9). The final Poesie to be uncovered is The Death of Actaeon, click here to find out more.

Four things to look out for in the Poesies

1. The female nude, which would be hard to miss.


These famous paintings achieve many things, not least their depictions of the female nude from all possible angles.

2. D-R-A-M-A, again, hard to miss.


Their greatest feat however is the way Titian captures the drama of the stories from Metamorphoses. Each Poesie focuses on the moment just before the climax. They are incredible to behold even if you don’t know the myth behind them and can even captivate and engage the most astute viewer because of their specificity to the Ovidian poem.


3. Pairings.

They’re marvelous as stand-alone paintings, in pairs and as a set. Taken as duos the paintings often mirror each other visually.

4. Drapery, dogs and dead-pan stares.

As a set the Poesies offer coherent motifs, such as the dogs, the red drapery, and the power play of the gaze.

Isla is a Classicist and lover of learning about art. She recently moved to London, having spent a year in Japan after graduating from the University of Cambridge.

Comments

More in Renaissance

  • 19th Century

    AE Russell’s Visions of Ireland

    By

    George William Russell, known as AE, painted the spirits and visions he had seen since childhood. His Irish landscapes are topographically familiar, but juxtaposed with fairyland qualities. Russell’s paintings glow with light and soft colors, which often form a background for faeries and spirits of folklore....

  • Art Travels

    Eleri Mills – A Deep Sense of Belonging

    By

    The colour palette in Wales at the moment is one of muted browns, dour greys and mucky khaki. So what a perfect season to come across the work of Eleri Mills. Mills is one of the most well-regarded of Welsh artists. Her work has travelled across...

  • Art State of Mind

    Book Review: Sofonisba, Portraits of the Soul

    By

    Sofonisba, Portraits of the soul is a book by Chiara Montani about the life and work of the Italian artist Sofonisba Anguissola. Sofonisba was an artist during the Renaissance in Italy and Spain. She was the first woman of her time to dare to pursue her...

  • Artists' Stories

    Last Chance to See: William Blake at Tate Britain

    By

    Tate Britain is the oldest of the United Kingdom’s four Tate galleries, the others being the Tate Modern in London, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives. Tate Britain not only boasts an excellent permanent collection of British art, but also a series of world-class exhibitions. The...

  • dailyart

    Titian’s The Death of Actaeon (Metamorphoses VIII)

    By

    A whistle-stop tour of each of the seven Poesies, which the Renaissance master delivered Philip II of Spain in the 1550s and early 1560s, finally reaches it’s conclusion with Titian’s The Death of Actaeon. Revised style and an unsent Poesie Intriguingly, The Death of Actaeon never...

To Top

Just to let you know, DailyArt Magazine’s website uses cookies to personalise content and adverts, to provide social media features and to analyse traffic. Read cookies policy