Wednesday, November 12, 2014

172. Titian in The Hague

There is only one painting by Titian in a Dutch collection, 'Boy with Dogs in a Landscape' (c. 1570-1576), one of the later paintings by Titian. It belongs to the collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam.

Titian, 'Boy with Dogs in a Landscape' (Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen) 
The painting was acquired by the museum in 1958 with the collection of D.G. van Beuningen (1877-1955). This painting was unknown to Ricketts when he compiled his notes for a monograph on Titian (1910). It was not in Rotterdam, when Ricketts visited Holland in 1911. Van Beuningen bought the painting in 1930 from the Amsterdam art dealer J. Goudstikker (paying fl. 240.000).

Another Titian painting is temporarily on display at the Prince William V Gallery in The Hague. 'Venus Rising from the Sea' is on loan from the National Galleries of Scotland. 

Titian, 'Venus Rising from the Sea' (c. 1520-1525)
When Ricketts saw this painting, it was in a private collection in London, at Bridgewater House. He noted:

A work allied to this last ['Laura Dianti'] in character, the 'Venus and the Shell' at Bridgewater House (Plate xxxv.), has fared rather better, but it is also falsified and given a later appearance by retouching and the deepening of the shadows.'
(Titian, 1910, page 53)

A footnote explained:

Since this was written this picture has been cleaned.

In Chapter X of his book, Ricketts continued:

The first record of Titian's journey to the court of Ferrara belongs to the year 1516, when he lodged at the Castello; we even know that salt, meal, oil, salad, chestnuts, oranges, tallow candles, cheese, and five measures of wine were allowed him and his two assistants weekly from the 13th of February till March 22nd. His letter to the Duke, dated February of the following year, makes mention of a picture of 'A Bath,' which we can identify with some measure of certainty with the beautiful, but damaged, 'Venus with the Shell,' in the Bridgewater collection. I think that we may assume that the same model who does duty for the Venus figures also as a nymph in the 'Garden of Loves,' and if we can trust an old copy of the last picture made in the early seventeenth century, and once in the possession of G.F. Watts, the same model was employed for the statue of Venus in that picture, before statue and attribute had been made unrecognisable by some restorer. In the copy the statue holds a recognisable shell done from nature, at Madrid the shell has become a sort of utensil or vase which looks like a sauce-boat; at one time the statue was a fair Venetian, both the statue and the 'Venus' at Bridgewater House have been 'founded,' in the pose of the torso at least, upon some Praxitelean statue of the type of the 'Venus of Ostia'; these details connect the two works, and they are further related to each other by a common classical origin. The 'Venus' in the Bridgewater collection manifestly emulates the description of the masterpiece of Apelles, while 'The Garden of Loves' is an illustration of one of the word-pictures in the Eikonon of Philostratus; these two works, the famous 'Bacchanal' and the better known 'Baccus and Ariadne' form a sequence in Titian's career; they add the evidence of richer resources and a profounder sensuousness to the secular mood which Titian had inherited from Giorgione, which he had intensified in the 'Three Ages of Man' and in the 'Sacred and Profane Love.' These paintings form a climax; in them the poetic impulse has become stronger and more conscious, the pictorial resources richer and more varied, they are the supreme expression of a temperament and vision which have remained unrivalled. We owe Titian's finest and most typical works to his relations with the house of Ferrara.

(Titian, 1910, pages 55-56)

The damage, mentioned by Ricketts, is not recorded in modern descriptions of this painting.