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


Oil on canvas, 253 x 217 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. In these two canvases, Titian achieves rich effects of colour and chiaroscuro with a limited palette in a foretaste of his late style.

According to the literature, Tityus is modeled on a Michelangelo drawing of 1532, or another possible explanation is that the figure of Tityus is based on body parts of the falsely restored Laocoön from 1532.