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

Philip II Offering Don Fernando to Victory

before 1575
Oil on canvas, 325 x 274 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

The painting is an 'Allegory of the Battle of Lepanto'. On 7 October 1571 the combined allied fleets of Spain, the papacy and Venice, under the supreme command of Don John of Austria, met and defeated the Ottoman fleet in Greek waters at Lepanto (now Nafpaktos) in the Corinthian Gulf. It was an extraordinary triumph for Christian arms with an enormous psychological impact bringing relief to Christendom which had long felt beleaguered by Islam. As the news spread across Europe, in Toledo a Te Deum was celebrated in the great cathedral, Philip II endowed an annual procession to commemorate the victory in perpetuity.