TIZIANO Vecellio
(b. 1490, Pieve di Cadore, d. 1576, Venezia)

Sisyphus

1548-49
Oil on canvas, 237 x 216 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

Titian painted four large canvases of the Damned for Mary of Hungary, Charles V's sister and his regent in the Netherlands. They depicted Tityus, Sisyphus, Tantalus and Ixion, all condemned to perpetual torture for incurring the displeasure of the gods. Only Tityus and Sisyphus are still extant. Tityus was sentenced to have his liver perpetually devoured by a vulture for having raped Latona and Sisyphus to carry a rock endlessly up hill for gossiping about Zeus's affair with Egira. Their gigantism is Michelangelesque, and Tityus is modeled on a Michelangelo drawing of 1532. In these two canvases, Titian achieves rich effects of colour and chiaroscuro with a limited palette in a foretaste of his late style.




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