Monday, January 16, 2017

Along the world axis
The Empress lay sleeping #2

"Please, Uncle Smut!" begged absolutely no-one. "How about you cobble together all of Titian & workshop's paintings of golden showers, into an animated Gif?" And so it came to pass, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROPHECY.

We figure that imagery of this genre will become increasingly mainstream during the golden reign of Emperor Commodus,* when American conservatives take on board the fact that someone important has a thing for water-sports, therefore it must be an acceptable taste -- if not obligatory for everyone -- and collectively retcon their moral judgement to reflect this new-found understanding. We're just getting in before the rush.

Some technical points, to be read out in the Explaining Voice:

1. The version in Oslo (with a weird metallic tent or spaceship cowling instead of bed drapery) is damn near impossible to find through the much-vaunted Gazoogle, apart from an entry on Tripadvisor and a couple of Flickr accounts. It doesn't even feature on the Nasjonalmuseet for Kunst's own website. But the brushwork in my memory is authentic enough -- apart from the "later modifications" -- and details of composition locate it to soon after the 1544 version (in the Capodimonte Museum in Naples**) and its several copies.

2. No-one really seems to rate for the Barker Welfare Foundation's copy either -- currently on loan to the Art Institute of Chicago -- on account of its generally sketchy provenance, but it does have a marginally larger presence on the Interducts. It is relatively unpopulated, apart from the face of Zeus, drooling golden fluids from up in the clouds. The Foundation dates it to "after 1554"... the puppy at lower left might invite comparisons with the doggage in the same place of the 1560s version in the Prado, but Titian liked painting puppies.

I am not sure how the process of connoisseurship works whereby some of the paintings from Titian's workshop receive the imprimatur of being the work of Titian his own self. Perhaps someone counts individual brushstrokes and decides if enough of them are assertive yet graceful enough to be the contribution of the Master. Time was when only four paintings had passed the gatekeepers to enter the Canon, but then in 2013 it was agreed to retrospectively recognise the Wellington Collection's version in Apsley House as a Authentic Work of Unmistakable Genius after two centuries of classifying it as a coarse copy, further ruined by over-painting and insensitive restoration.

3. What's that up at top right in the 2009 Riddled Mithrasmas Advent Calendar? Why yes, "Dec. 22" seems to be another version of Danaë's Golden Shower, located in Archduke Leopold Wilhelm's personal collection, when David Teniers was painting it in 1647-1651 as was the custom of the time.
What happened to that version in later years is a matter for art historians, but a very similar painting changed hands at an art auction in 2006.

4. Yet another early version passed through the hands of Parisian art connoisseur Le Brun some time in the 1770s, when M.-L.-É. Vigée (later Vigée Le Brun) painted a rather fine partial copy. There is talk of a Danaë that changed hands at auction in 2011, and speculation that it might have been Le Brun's version.

Then there are umpteen bootleg copies, and engravings, and reimagined versions by later painters using the same pose. Suffice to say that in the Riddled Amateur Dramatic Society staging of the whole saga, certain parts of each authentic workshop painting will prove to be the work of "LCF", and when all those sections are assembled into a single artwork, they will hold the power to open the Ninth Gate of the Kingdom of Shadows. I am available to play the role of the unscrupulous art dealer.
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* B^4 prefers the name "Little-Gloves" for the Imperator, i.e. Caestigula ["caestus" is a 4th-declension noun so (as any fule kno) it takes the diminutive suffix '-igula' or '-icula']. But here at the Riddled Institute for Crap Historical Analogies we rate for Commodus... the disastrous successor to Marcus Aurelius, who devoted his Caesarship to partying, corruption, playing at gladiator, avoiding responsibilities and generally undoing Aurelius' last-ditch attempts to hold the Empire together.

** That version was on loan to the National Gallery in Washington for July-November 2014, so American readers really have no excuse not to have seen it.

1 comment:

rhwombat said...

I, for one, am entirely persuaded by Uncle Smut's mammocentric montage. In this revolutionary post-Copernican world, cerebrocentric gifs are so Sixteenth Century.