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

The Bravo

1516-17
Oil on canvas, 75 x 67 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

In the 17th century the painting was attributed to Giorgione, and later for a long time to Palma Vecchio. However, recently it was given to Tiziano.

The Bravo, so called because of the mysterious armed man with his back to us, falls into Titian's Giorgionesque phase and demonstrates an undercurrent of cruelty. The subject has been convincingly identified as the arrest of Bacchus by Pentheus, King of Thebes, who opposed the Bacchic cult. Bacchus' revenge was dire, and Pentheus was torn to pieces by his mother and sisters.